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Friday, 26 July 2013

Club to Catwalk

The 1980’s were a weird and wonderful era where an ‘anything goes’ attitude surfaced in London’s embryonic club scene. The merge of music and fashion saw clubbers experimenting with outlandish style using a DIY approach to express creativity and individuality. Whether the look was new romantic, goth, fetish, raver or high camp, it was a decade where youth rebelled against ‘hard times’, thatcherism or whatever was the going concern at that moment and exerted by sheer force their mark on nightlife and leisure forever. There can be no doubt how influential this period was on today’s fashion (you only have to walk through London’s Brick Lane to catch a blast from the past with acid wash denim, beanie hats and Dr martens worn by a new generation of ravers) Miss Mannequin, of course, remembers these times fondly as if it were only yesterday; customising her leather jacket, cut off denims and using her articulated limbs to strike a vogue-like pose in the most exclusive clubs where only the fashion elite were welcome!

Installation image courtesy and copyright to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

For some the 80’s may now be a bit of a hazy period; for others a magic era which they never experienced or like Miss Mannequin a time she will treasure. The latest exhibition at London's V and A  Museum 'Club to Catwalk' proved irresistibl, documenting through fashion what life was like for the young in the 80’s.

Now we all know my Darling Readers that a lady never reveals her age, this show however took me straight back to my wild child years of the Blitz, Mudd Club and Wag and so many other venues I hung out in. Eeeks, ahhhs and wows repeatedly left my perfectly painted lips as I wandered through the Gallianos and the Gaultiers, flabbergasted by memories of what we used to wear, the sheer chutzpah of some of the outfits, some of which remain in the wardrobe at Mannequin Towers (perhaps it’s time for a clear out).

Divided into two separate areas; the downstairs 'catwalk' area provides a snapshot of the most creative designers working in London in the 1980’s, displaying an informative selection of Levi Strauss commissioned denim jackets by a group of 22 London based designers. John Galliano, Paul Smith, Jasper Conran and John Richmond were amongst a selection of designers who went on to become more famous, alongside the more obscure yet no less influential style gurus including Stephen Lineard and Willie Brown. The exhibits were well displayed and brought to life by proportion london’s male mannequin collection – METROpolitan and female mannequin collection – FASHIONISTA.

Moving upstairs to ‘the club’ area, the electric atmosphere is recreated with clever lighting and a soundtrack which includes many new romantic dance floor classics. All the better for being less crowded and sweaty than a Soho basement, on show are designs by the likes of Body Map, Vivienne Westwood, and fetishwear expert Pam Hogg. A small enclosed space has been used to good effect showing film footage and imagery from many club nights (look carefully Dear Readers and you will spot me sociliasing with the likes of Leigh Bowery and Philip Salon).

Installation image courtesy and copyright to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Who am I kidding the 80’s was fabulous! Now where did I put that Spandau Ballet cassette…

Club to Catwalk is open until the 16th February 2014.For more information on this exhibition please visit

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