Stephen Webster’s New Campaign | Vertigo and CH₂: Backstage with Patti Smith
Coinciding with my time at art school in 1976, Punk Rock crashed into the music and cultural scene. Cited as a reaction to the hardships and humdrum of working-class life in the UK; and the irrelevance of the overblown stadium-style rock n roll, punk filled the vacuum, providing heroes from within the ranks of the disenfranchised. Meanwhile on America’s East Coast, focused in NYC, a Punk scene was well underway and quickly added real gravitas to the UK’s DIY zeitgeist.
The US Punks were full of attitude and energy, but less styled than the UK movement of the same (borrowed name), which was driven by the young rebel fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her partner in crime and life, Malcolm McLaren. The first transatlantic wave gave us The Ramones, NY Dolls Iggy Pop, and a poet/songwriter Patti Smith. Looking like a 5th member of the Ramone family, Patti Smith epitomised rock ‘n’ roll. Her pose or rather anti pose for the cover of her seminal album; Horses, is an icon of the period. Androgynous, Rockstar skinny (as a result of her poets starvation diet of coffee and heads of lettuce), a suit jacket slung over her shoulder, a shirt, untied tie, obligatory skin-tight black jeans; combined with a jet black screwed down hairdo and a fresh-faced expression of, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ attitude, provided a simple but very potent mix
Her most famous song; ‘Because the Night’, written by fellow NJ advocate for working-class America; Bruce (the boss) Springsteen, seemed to be around for the entire Punk movement, eventually reaching classic rock status. Patti’s unwavering commitment to her beliefs and strength of character have kept her relevant and an inspiration for so many musicians and creative people ever since.
Despite shifts and manifestations of the popular and cultural landscape, it’s important that we are able to reference the people, places, and milestones that provide the roadmap of our journeys.
From inception as a company, Stephen Webster, has remained authentic to our real-life experiences and inspirations. We have learned that every now and again it pays off, both creatively and commercially, to reference moments from our unique journey; whether they be momentous changes or more personal and emotional. The resurrection of our No Regrets Lounge as a physical, and of late, a virtual home for everything we create and enjoy, has helped us to better communicate the essence of the brand - of being ‘rebels with a cause’. A term that captures the spirit and drive of Stephen Webster and our community.
Our 2020 ‘Backstage’ campaign launches two jewellery collections; Vertigo and CH2, both are contemporary but inspired by two completely different subjects. One playing with an impossible perspective in a world increasingly lost of perspective. The other, a 25-year celebration of Crystal Haze, our most iconic collection and one that put Stephen Webster on the map.
While in a campaign planning meeting, I had a clear image of Patti Smith on the cover of horses. Inspired by the artist and what that picture captured at the time and continues to do to this day; uncluttered rock ‘n’ roll, a rebel who stood for something. The subsequent campaign, shot on the last day before lockdown, manages to capture some of the current climate where the noise has stopped and the creativity will once again begin.
-Stephen Webster MBE