Back in the early days of 1981, I was living in a dull and small minded city in Canada when I came across a magazine that had featured some fashions I’d never seen before, I snapped it up without bothering to look inside to see if it was worth the fact that I was about to spend most of my pocket money, I had to know about this. The style was so different to the basic jeans and t-shirt uniform, or ugly polyester clothing that was usually on offer at every shop, (save for one that had recently opened, Le Chateau back in the early 1980’s was cool). Actually, saying it was merely different doesn’t do the style justice, it was a complete 180′ from what I was stuck with, and it was just what I had been longing for, this was like wearing art!
My sewing skills were, and remain today, mediocre and I had a difficult time finding any decent material, so when I spent the following summer in the UK I spent most of my saved money on the copies I found in the high street shops. Yes, I was imitating but with limited resources I had little choice, but it started me on a path where I began to make my own style, and yes I did stand out, but I was already firmly established as the weird girl so this fashion was, (I think), expected.
I rummaged through charity shops and found some gems, made some alterations to some generic fashions, and mixed matched them both. There were some tragic mistakes, but a few hits, I had a black chiffon dress that I found in a charity shop, it was of the early 1960’s, and while I didn’t alter it, the accessories I wore with it really changed the style. It was my favourite and I wore it until it began to literally fall to pieces.
A few months ago, I was going to spend a few days of wandering London, and a couple of days before I was to arrive I took a look online to see what was going on, on my first day, (I needed to keep busy on my most sleep deprived day), and I came across an exhibit at the V&A museum. A museum isn’t what I would plan for such a day but when I read what the Club to Catwalk exhibit was about, I wasn’t about to wait, this about the beginning of a new and exciting, and fun part of my life, I couldn’t wait to relive it.
While I’ve just realised I’ve aged myself, I was too young, (not to mention the fact that I was living well over 5000 kms, or over 3000 miles away), to be a part of the club scene from which this fabulous fashions came from, but I lived it vicariously which was of some consolation to me.
When I arrived I sought out the exhibit, making it my first stop at the museum, (this place has long been one of my most favoured places to wander about, I used to spend many Sunday’s, slightly hungover, but able to admire the beauty of the building and it’s contents), I eagerly handed over my £5 but was immediately disappointed by the sign that said “no photography,” not that was going to stop me of course but it meant getting any decent photo’s of the clothes was going to be a bit of an annoyance. There were plenty of security, watching everyone, I saw a few be told off for trying to take some photo’s, but I had my phone, and I was receiving a lot of messages that afternoon…. To be honest I found later as I took photo’s of other items in the museum, the lighting, (perhaps purposely), is not for taking pictures, so my apologies in advance for the poor quality.
The exhibit is still on, until 16 Feb 2014, and I highly recommend you visit it, even if you have no interest in fashion history the style also played a large part of the music scene in that decade, and it began the careers of some truly brilliant designers, and you owe it to yourself to see the best of it, I hope it inspires you as well.
I loved the exhibition, there were some old favourites and some I may have missed but it brought back some good memories and I’ll be honest, I could still wear this style, (well some of it).