Our latest project Trellick Tales brings to life the heritage of Grade II listed building Trellick Tower. This year-long programme of free weekly drama and heritage sessions will develop your skills in research, oral history interviews, curating and performance, which will all be accredited.
The first Trellick Tales session of 2016 is on 16th January. We will be having a Welcome Party for young people aged 13-25 years who want to come along and join in!
Creative workshop sessions run every Saturday 12-5pm from the 16th of January and it is a great chance for young people to learn new skills, gain an Arts Award and have fun! The opportunity leads into the creation of an interactive exhibition and performance project.
Friday the 8 November 2013 will be memorable for any number of people for the chaos on the tube. For me, it was the eve of my birthday and I had booked to attend a talk at the Victoria & Albert Museum that was part of their Club to Catwalk exhibition. The line up was Caryn Franklin, Toyah Willcox and Karen Binns. They complimented each other perfectly, bringing their thoughts, ideas and experiences to a discussion on women who developed, fused and influenced fashion and music in 1980s London.
Caryn Franklin MBE is former Fashion Editor and Co-Editor of i-D Magazine. I immediately remembered her from The Clothes Show. In the Evening Standard Lifestyle Magazine (Print edition: 5 July 2013 ) Caryn writes:
‘There was never any talk of celebrity or success, only credibility and who had it. The style magazines i-D, The Face and Blitz were a triumvirate of street and music fanzines aimed at those with aspirations, attitudes and pretensions to creative grandeur. i-D is still headed by Terry Jones, who gave me my very first job. He put Madonna on the cover before anyone knew who she was. Channel 4’s Swank and Network 7, both programmes I worked on, were appetisers to the BBC’s The Clothes Show. I joined in 1986 with Jeff Banks and Selina Scott, and we covered everything from street style to John Galliano’s earliest work. The Clothes Show reached 157 million homes worldwide for 12 years. And with only four TV channels in the UK, at 5pm on Sunday it was rugby or us.’
‘In a career spanning thirty years Toyah has had thirteen top 40 singles, recorded twenty albums, written two books, appeared in over forty stage plays, made ten feature films and presented such diverse television programmes as The Good Sex Guide Late, Watchdog and Songs Of Praise. Toyah’s influences for her costumes were the Masai, Kabuki and the Mexican day of the dead amongst others. Clothing was like an armour, protective.’ (quote from www.toyahwillcox.com).
Karen is from Brooklyn and has worked as a fashion stylist in the pop and fashion industry. She has styled Tori Amos for 20 years. She is also editor and publisher at WHAT MAGAZINE. Karen described how things were in the 80s:
‘There was no internet or social media. The clubs were the place to see and be seen. You would use clothes to read each other. There were no courses for stylists. Fashion courses were aimed at those wishing to be designers. You proved your worth using your own personal style and your ability to get attention for the right reason at the right time.There was no copying, individuality ruled – if you saw it on someone else, you got rid of it fast.’
As soon as I got into work on the following Monday, I started my research. Chelsea Reference Library has the V&A book that accompanies the exhibition, From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion by Sonnet Standfill, V&A Publishing 2013.
This encapsulates the period with plenty of images – including a cover of i-D magazine:
From Club to Catwalk has a number of picture credits citing articles in Vogue and Harpers and Queen magazine.
What you see below are two pictures taken from a whole spread that appeared in the magazine. The costume collection at Chelsea Reference Library has Harpers and Queen and Vogue, so you can compare colour plates reproduced in the book with complete article as it appeared in the magazine, giving an added dimension to any research project! Below is a page from Club to Catwalk which helpfully gives the magazine title, month and year. In this case:
You can see here the full page spread that the book doesn’t give you – plus a chance to read the whole piece.
The trend for street style was reflected in Vogue’s Peacock Parade, featuring pictures of London’s punks and clubbers:
From Vogue September 1983:
‘Street fashion in London is in fine exhibitionist form. No capital in the world harbours such strange, eclectic, individual diversity of appearance. Apparel and appurtenance. Within this kerbside court. Fantasy selves pose and posture, defiance is by design and disguise is a mode of recognition.’
So if you want to refine your own personal aesthetic, why not give Chelsea Reference Library a try?
Vogue from 1923 – current issue
Queen from 1949 – 1970
Harpers & Queen 1971 – current issue
From Club to Catwalk: 80s Fashion by Sonnet Standfill, V&A Publishing 2013
We Can Be Heroes: punks, poseurs, peacocks and people of a particular persuasion. London Clubland 1976-1984 by Graham smith and Chris Sullivan
When We Were Young – Derek Ridgers: Club and Street Portraits 1978-1987 by Val Williams
Fashion Now – i-D selects the Worlds 150 most important designers by Terry Jones
I was a teenager in the 1980s and I was interested to see if I recognised any of the clothes on display. I was really surprised at how much I recognised – I mean I obviously didn’t buy or wear any designer clothes (my Saturday job at C & A’s didn’t pay that well!) but I was an avid reader of Just Seventeen (a weekly magazine that began in 1983) so I was aware of designers such as Katherine Hamnett and Wendy Dagworthy. Just Seventeen also featured items from a shop called ‘Boy’ on the Kings Road – this is now called ‘Ad Hoc’ and little did I know all the years ago that I would end up working less than five minutes away from there…
One fantastic thing about the exhibition is the 1980s soundtrack they play and hearing some of these songs and these really brought back memories for me – so much so I wanted to share them on this piece.
If you’ve been inspired to listen to some music from this great decade – check out our CD collections in our libraries.
Gillian Nunns, our Reference Librarian with the Chelsea Library fashion collection at her fingertips, writes:
I recognised some of the songs in the exhibition but can’t remember them from the time! To make up for it I have been looking through the books and magazines in Chelsea Library’s fashion collection and getting an idea of the 80s vibe.
It was great to see images from London’s 80s clubs such as Blitz, The Wag Club and Taboo in our collection. The clothes take inspiration from a great mixing-pot of places and times. Here is a picture of a Blitz Kid – Steve Strange from Visage, who features in Jodie’s Playlist:
And here is someone at Heaven’s Day Glo Ball in 1984 that we found in When We Were Young by Val Williams, which is a great book of street portraits taken in London by Derek Ridgers between 1970 and 1987.
In the early 80s there was a shift away from Punk’s anti-fashion stance with subcultures like the New Romantics, who dressed really theatrically and individually, taking inspiration from artists like Bowie. Here is a picture of one of David Bowie’s outfits from his Serious Moonlight tour in 1983:
So with the new club culture growing London seems like an exciting place to have been in the early 80s, with different kinds of music and styles emerging. Here is a nice shot of Sade by the Thames who also feature in Jodie’s playlist:
London’s club scene in the 80s was documented in independent magazines from the time such as i-D and Blitz. These great i-D magazine cover’s are also in the book ‘We Can Be Heroes’:
From the V&A exhibition Jodie and I got a sense of how designers took inspiration from street style, and I came across some great images of some 1980s collections. London’s theatrical and eclectic club scene can definitely be seen in Wendy Dagworthy’s designs. Check out this design with its layers and mix of cultural influences that I found in a book called The London Look:
Punk’s legacy can be seen in Katherine Hamnett’s anti-establishment slogan t-shirts. Hamnett herself wore one saying ‘58% DON’T WANT PERISHING’ to meet Margaret Thatcher at Downing Street. Here is an image of one that we found in Harpers & Queen, October 1986:
And there was also Body Map, which started with a stall in Camden market and was closely linked with London’s thriving club culture, even holding its own Body Map parties. By 1982 there was lots of hype around this brand, which also exploited a younger market by making a more affordable, b-Basic clothing range. This Body Map outfit is from Harpers & Queen, October 1986:
And I haven’t forgotten Vivienne Westwood, whose 1981 Pirates collection saw her move away from the Punk scene but stick with taking inspiration from rebellion. Like with London’s club fashions, her 80s collections including ‘Pirate’, ‘Savage’, and ‘Witches’ took inspiration from a melting pot of places and times. Her 1982 collection ‘Savage’ collection has a tribal look:
Vivienne Westwood’s Worlds End shop is just down the road from us on the King’s Road, which got us thinking about what else was happening on The Kings Road at the time. Of course the Kings Road in the 60s is pretty infamous, but after the 60s the draw continued…
If you enjoyed this, keep an eye out for more 80s fashion posts!
From Club to Catwalk edited by Sonnet Stanfill, V&A Publishing 2013-11-20
The London Look: Fashion from street to Catwalk by Christopher Breward et al
When We Were Young by Val Williams, Photoworks, 2004.
We Can Be Heroes by Graham Smith, Unbound, 2012
David Bowie is, V&A, 2013
Vivienne Westwood by Claire Wilcox, V&A Publishing 2004