Club to Catwalk at the V&A

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The V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) is known for hosting some of the most incredible exhibitions that take place in London every year. Now until February 2014 you can take in a wonderful and no doubt colourful exhibition entitled ‘Club to Catwalk’ which takes a look at the incredible explosion of colourful creativity that took place in the fashion industry during the 1980’s. This is a major exhibition that is not only going to be a talking point for some time to come, but for those who attend who grew up in the era it is also bound to spark some incredible memories.

Photo by Antoine Kienlen
Photo by Antoine Kienlen

There are more than eighty five individual outfits included in the exhibition which illustrate some of the exciting new looks that hit the fashion scene in what has to have been one of the most progressive decades of the century for the fashion industry. Amongst the outfits on display are some from respected designers John Galliano, Wendy Dagworthy, Katharine Hamnett and Betty Jackson. Whether you were a ‘New Romantic’ or followed one of the other emerging trends you will find something that you like here.

The Club Scene

There was something of an explosion in the clubbing scene during the 1980’s. Many of the clubs started organising specialist themed nights which gave clubbers a chance to dress up and be part of an emerging scene in a club filled with likeminded people. This was the era when it seemed as if there was always something new waiting to emerge. It was an era of intense creativity and expressionism and it seemed that nothing was going to hold it back. Originally it was just the smaller clubs that catered for these new groups of expressionists but with the audiences steadily growing it soon spread to the larger and more well known clubs such as the Camden Palace. Warehouse parties became the place to be and it is through these venues that some of the new fashions first appeared.

On the Catwalk

The designs that were hitting the catwalk during the eighties were causing something of a stir internationally. This was at a time when the biggest fashion shows were taking place in Japan and New York, certainly not in London. That is until one breakthrough event was organised entitled ‘London Goes to Tokyo’. During the event many of the designers that appear in the V&A exhibition took their work to the international stage.

The incredible inventiveness of the new London designers was in part credited to the fabulous art colleges that the city had in place. These were the educational institutions that were not only teaching design theory but also encouraging expressionism and individuality in their students. What better place was there for these creative students to let their creativity come to the fore than in the emerging 80’s club scene. This was a time when it was regarded as being acceptable to take risks, to be outlandish and to definitely be different, something that the youth of the city did with a style all of their own.

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