During a trip to the V&A museum in London, I visited the Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s. As there was a clear ruling that no photos were allowed to be taken of any of the display items, I immediately took out my notebook wrote as many notes as possible. The exhibition was curated by head of Fashion at the V&A; Claire Wilcox and Wendy Dagworthy was the Expert Consultant.

The exhibition was split over two levels. The lower level was centred on the designer collaborations such as Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren. These designs clearly caught the free spirited anarchy of the 80s – the use of print, DIY culture & the birth of oversized shoulder pads.

There were some works displayed by designers that I was unfamiliar with; Chrissie Walsh with her ‘Jewel Collection’ & Michiko Koshino ‘Rain Jacket’ to name a few. This is why attending events like this are an essential part of my development as a designer as if broadens my knowledge of fashion designers & allows me to learn about the historical side of the fashion industry.

One display called ‘Blitz Denim’ showed a collaboration of 22 designers that worked with blitz magazine to create/customise denim jackets that were provided by Levis. It was interesting to see the use of everyday materials like hairgrips incorporated into their designs, it really defines the DIY attitude of the 80s.

What I liked that there were ‘fun facts’ which gave snippets of information about what was happening at the time. Information like designers were becoming more colonised and independent shops were starting to appear in what were previously unfashionable areas of London.

The upper level consisted of fashion fads such as; Rave, Body Concious, Punk, Body Map, Club, Hard Times & Glam Fetish. It was essentially a fashion timeline that captured the social, political & personal issues of that era. I particularly enjoyed the Rave & Hard Times displays. Rave was about sensation seekers, letting the music take over you. Rave, wasn’t about how good you looked but about having fun and dressing to have a great time which was clear from Rifat Ozbeck’s Spring/Summer 1990 collection.

Hard-times was about using what you had and working into it to become more unique. It was a tough sense of style with ripped T-Shirts, torn jeans, a strong – masculine style that seeped attitude. Katherine Hamnet’s ‘Clean up or die collection’ from 1989-1990 was a great example of this. This really caught the financial issues of the 80s as people couldn’t afford new clothes so they customised what they already had to create a new trend.

Overall this exhibition proved to be an education experience that touched on many issues of this decade which I can use for the essay framework. In preparation for writing my essay, I will conduct further research into some of the designers that were displayed here to enhance my background knowledge and build on the topics that I want to discuss in my framework.


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