Last weekend I was lucky enough to get tickets for the Club to Catwalk exhibition at the V&A while I was in London for a long weekend to catch up with friends and family. I was most excited about seeing the exhibition, not least because I’m old enough to remember the ’80s! The sheer diversity of fashion in London during the ’80s made for a fascinating journey from New Romantics through bold colourful prints to extremes such as goth, all heavily influenced by music. I really liked the experimental outfits included, there was a fabulous denim jacket series commissioned by Blitz magazine in 1986, Stephen Linad’s customisation really intrigued me. He has chosen the theme of camping for his jacket, and added a rucksack to the back of the jacket, along with various camping implements attached to the denim by silver metal chains, like tin openers, cutlery, and a whistle. The lining of the jacket was pink taffeta, a total contrast to the dark stiffness of the denim.
My favourite piece from the exhibition was a dress by Willy Brown called ‘Peacock eye’ as it has unusual military style detailing at the top and flattened seams down the side of the dress to give it a lovely curved shape.
Photo courtesy of the V&A
The exhibition then continued upstairs, where the outfits weren’t behind glass and I liked the atmosphere of this more. The lighting was low, mainly to protect the outfits from damage, but this added to setting the scene. There was ’80’s music and video playing and it almost felt like being at a club night. Then I found the most experimental outfit of the exhibition, a few teenage schoolgirls were gathered around it discussing whether they were brave enough to sketch it for their art projects!
I had a throwback memory moment while looking at the Bodymap outfits, remembering the stripy tights I used to wear, and the big bag of coloured tights my mum kept for my starring moment in the school play every Christmas. This outfit is part of the ‘Cat in the hat takes a rumble with a techno fish’ collection from 1984;
The exhibition made me think about how fashion was so heavily influenced by music, I spent a lot of the ’90’s wearing band T shirts with floral print skirts and Doc Marten boots and lumberjack shirts because I listened to obscure indie and grunge music. I really enjoyed the exhibition, it demonstrated the huge diversity of fashion directions in the ’80’s and although I had to pay to see ‘Club to Catwalk’ it was only £5, which I felt was good value considering other exhibitions of a similar scale usually cost upwards of £10.