From 1970’s icon to Vivienne Westwood’s Sex boutique: How Pamela Rooke championed fashion’s punk aesthetic

·3-min read
English model and actress Pamela Rooke, also known as Jordan, smoking a cigarette while attending an exhibition, UK, 23rd June 1978 (Getty Images)
English model and actress Pamela Rooke, also known as Jordan, smoking a cigarette while attending an exhibition, UK, 23rd June 1978 (Getty Images)

Pamela Rooke, the punk fashion icon known as Jordan, has died from cancer at the age of 66 - but she leaves behind a bold legacy within the fashion and entertainment world.

Her death was announced by her partner Nick, who released a statement in Brighton and Hove News.

It reads: “She died peacefully a stone’s throw away from the sea in her home town of Seaford, East Sussex in the company of her loving family at 9pm last night (Sunday 3 April).”

They added: “Jordan (Pamela Rooke) has left her mark on this planet, whether it be as ‘The Queen of Punk’, or for her veterinary work and countless prize winning cats.

“She lived life to the full and was true to herself and others throughout the whole of her life. She was totally trusted and respected by all those who knew her.”

The British model worked with Vivienne Westwood and is renowened for emulating the London punk look of the 1970s, alongside musicians Siouxsie Sioux and Johnny Rotten, and the punk icon Soo Catwoman.

Her distinctive style helped form punk’s aestheic, which typically features rubber, leather and ripped fabrics.

The whole point of the punk movement was to rebel against the establishment, so fashion was chaotic and fearless, featuring nudity, with bold, bleached hair and makeup designed to prove a point.

In her late teens, Rooke was employed at Vivienne Westwood’s boutique Sex.

Referring to her outfits, which were always full of attitude, she said: “I was running a gauntlet every day. People were scared of me. And the funny thing is, I was actually quite shy.”

The Sex Pistols were regularly spotted at Sex, and their bassist Glen Matlock worked there at the weekends.

Rooke even became a linchpin at Sex Pistols gigs, sometimes even getting on stage, such as during their first live televised perfomance of “Anarchy In The UK” in 1976.

She also managed Adam and the Ants and co-performed with them on the song “Lou”, which appeared on the band’s John Peel session.

Rooke met her former husband, the guitarist Kevin Mooney, whilst managing Wide Boy Awake, but later divorced him in the mid 1980s.

She dabbled as an actress, becoming somewhat of a muse to the filmmaker Derek Jarman, who cast her as the lead in the fantastical Jubilee, where she played a punk called Amyl Nitrate.

She also appears in his debut film, Sebastiane.

But later in life, Rooke became a veterinary nurse and cat breeder, removing herself from the fashion world and the limelight.

She told The Guardian in 2019: “Things had become too hectic. It sounds really corny, but normality saved my life.”

She will be portrayed by Game of Thrones actor Maisie Williams in Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols drama Pistol, airing in May.

The late star recently spoke of how she advised Williams on her performance, saying: “What I said to her was, ‘You’re in a position of playing a role that is very strong, a strong woman, and a woman set apart, really.’ I decided that I wanted to be me, like a walking work of art, if you like, and I was totally and utterly unshakable. So she had to bring that to the role.”

Jonathan Ross was among those paying tribute, saying: “An amazing woman. She changed our world. And she loved cats. So sad she’s gone.”

Singer-songwriter Boy George also paid tribute to the icon, calling her his “teenage obsession”.

Glen Matlock simply said: “Will miss you girl.”

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