From Club to Catwalk

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The 1980s was an era of sartorial diversity that goes beyond the obvious references of oversized Dynasty shoulder pads and off-the-shoulders sweatshirts a la Flashdance. An array of clothing from the 1980s–with not a shoulder pad in sight– is currently on display at London’s V&A Museum in an exhibition titled: Club to Catwalk: a celebration of 1980s British club culture. This exhibition celebrations the exuberance of dress and unbridled creativity that came out of the club scene at the time. Seminal figures like Leigh Bowery and Adam Ant ruled the scene where dressing up wasn’t about looking fashionable or chic. So called the New Romantics emphasized “Dressing fancy, not fancy dress.” Customization was key and days of preparation were required to create original looks each week. Gender lines were blurred and not just in clothing, this extended itself to a fluid sense of sexuality in a time just before the devastation of AIDS. Flowing just as freely as the sexuality at the time were the drugs and alcohol which in combination left many memories of the era quite foggy. The trauma that the AIDS epidemic left in it’s wake in the late 80s was a horrible awakening jolt to many enjoying the hedonistic pleasures of the scene. Beyond the museum walls of the V&A the presence of these creative renegades of a bygone era is felt in the presentations of many young British designers many of whom have turned their lenses towards the club culture of the 1980s as inspiration for their collections in the new millennia.

-Samm Mackin

 Watch this video to hear first hand experiences of the club culture of the 1980s

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The Cloth, Summer Summit
Anita Corbin
1985
© Anita Corbin

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Trojan and Mark at Taboo

Derek Ridgers

Colour photograph
1986
© Derek Ridgers

 

*Photos Courtesy of V&A Museum London