V&A // Club to Catwalk

Taking advantage of Ivor’s Tate pass again, on Sunday we headed to the V&A to see the Club to Catwalk exhibition which focuses on London fashion during the 1980’s.

The eighties were a truly amazing era for British Fashion, quite topical too as London Fashion Week began in 1984. The exhibition features the experimental designers who dominated the decade (and continue to today), John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes and so on. It also included designs from Betty Jackson and Wendy Dagworthy, as I studied their beautiful creations, Ivor casually informed me that he used to holiday with them when he was younger…needless to say I am currently pleading with him to get back in touch with them, what an amazing opportunity that would be!

The eighties club scene and fashion were one and the same, John Galliano famously said “Thursday and Friday at St Martin’s, the college was almost deserted. Everybody was at home working on their costumes for the weekend”. The clubs looked like catwalks and vice versa. Watching the video replays of 1980’s catwalk models dancing their way down the runway, contrast sharply with the monotonous parade of seriously straight faced models that dominate the catwalks of today.

New materials were one of the reasons for such experimental change which governed the era. Stevie Stewart and David Holah, the masterminds behind Bodymap, took full advantage of these new textiles and redefined pattern cutting, with form fitting knits and layers of stretch jersey.


In the early eighties Clubs like Taboo influenced the ‘High Camp’ look, think Boy George wearing John Galliano’s theatrical designs.


Later in the decade came the ‘Rave’ trend, inspired by Ibiza, which featured an amalgamation of peace signs, neon colours and slogan tees.


One of the quotes featured in the exhibition states that the eighties were a time when fashion was a new way to express oneself. If this is true then it was an exceptionally expressive decade.


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