September 27, 2005

Book shows hidden side of bad-boy rocker Doherty

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) - A new book of photographs shows the
hidden side of troubled British rocker Pete Doherty, a far cry
from the media's fascination with the drugs, the fights, and
his relationship with supermodel Kate Moss.

In "London: Birth of a Cult," French fashion designer Hedi
Slimane, head of menswear design at the Christian Dior fashion
house, documents the emergence of a new British rock scene.

The book, published on Tuesday by German art publisher
Seidl and fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's 7L imprint,
portrays Doherty, the former Libertines singer now with
Babyshambles, as one of its most iconic characters.

"This book is simply about music and the irresistible rise
of a mythical rock figure, even if it is that of an anti-hero,"
Slimane said in an interview.

The black-and-white photos show Doherty as a charismatic
frontman and pioneer of a new generation of musicians that has
revitalized rock.

This is a side of Doherty that has been overshadowed by
publicity surrounding antics such as the four days he spent in
London's Pentonville prison on charges -- later dropped -- of
blackmail and theft, the unsuccessful attempts at rehab and the
canceled gigs.

In recent weeks, the lanky 26-year-old has been on the
front pages again after the Mirror tabloid published
photographs that it said showed his on-off girlfriend Moss
snorting cocaine.

However, Slimane is a fan of the singer and his book is
about Doherty's performances and his relationship with the

"I do not think the tabloid speculation interests this
generation of fans. The music and the stage (performances) are
the only rallying points," he said.

What made Doherty's performances special, he said, was that
"stage life and everyday life totally merge. There is no
rupture, transformation, composition. It's direct, often


Slimane's passion for rock music is an intimate part of his
life and creative process.

"I was born with a David Bowie album in my hands, my
friends are musicians. For five years I have been designing the
clothes of a large part of the rock scene," he said.

His rock culture-inspired fashion is seen everywhere -- on
Hollywood star Brad Pitt and on Mick Jagger, who asked Slimane
to design his skin-tight satin outfit for the Rolling Stones'
"A Bigger Bang" tour.

Slimane's first book of photographs, "Berlin," was a
tribute to a city he loves and the second, "Stage," was about
the rituals of rock concerts.

"After 'Stage' I wanted to focus on a key figure of this
new scene, a personality combining all the codes of rock; the
transmission of a tradition, but also the distinctive character
of a generation and the intimacy with fans," he said.

Slimane started working on the book about two years ago
when Doherty had just completed the second Libertines album,
but he was kicked out of the band for his well-publicized drug
addiction and moved on to start Babyshambles.

Other bands features in the book include The Others and The
Paddingtons, which are part of a movement that Slimane says
could be as strong and exciting as punk rock in the 1970s.