WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer’s words and pictures tell the tale


❚ As a decade the 70s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
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As the last of the Baby Boomers, the so-called Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
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For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.
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“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of  a former Blitz Kid.
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➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.
CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant.

electro-pop, synth-pop, bowie, ashes to ashes, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife,visage, duran,depeche mode, midge ure,ultravox, human league, rich kids, makers, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, lennon, cleave,wham!, mclaren, mallet, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, oakey,Martyn Ware,altered images, 20th-century box, westwood, px, axiom, bodymap,willy brown, foundry, sue clowes,demob,seditionaries, acme attractions,ritz, zg,viz,i-D,the face,new sounds new styles,Kornilof, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,dencil, batcave, barbarella's, croc's

July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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➤ Steve Strange’s family ask fans to respect his funeral service

 Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, funeral, Wales, Tanya Harrington

Steve Strange in Wales with his sister Tanya

◼ THURSDAY 12 MARCH HAS BEEN SET as the date for Steven Harrington’s funeral, known to most of us as Steve Strange, the singer frontman for the 80s pop group Visage. Plans for the day are now different from earlier reports, as his family have been overwhelmed by the public response to Steve’s sudden death from a heart attack in Egypt. Shapers of the 80s has received more than 21,000 visits since publishing the many moving tributes by Steve’s friends among the original Blitz Kids.

Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, funeral, Wales, mother

Steve Strange at home with his mother Gill who is renowned for her cooking

Today, the person coordinating all the arrangements, Steve’s personal assistant and family friend Amanda Lloyd, has asked us to set out the family’s wishes, after rather exaggerated claims by friends were reported at Wales Online and were taken up by other national media.

The family remain shocked by the suddenness of Steve’s death. Amanda says: “It was so unexpected. I miss him terribly. A lot of other people are missing him, he was such a lovely guy.”

She admits the flamboyant side of Steve would probably be pretty pleased with all the attention the past fortnight has generated but she stresses that Steve’s family hope the church service won’t become a media event. It is intended to be an intimate celebration of his life for his family and for Steve’s close personal friends, such as musicians Martin and Gary Kemp and Steve Norman, who wish to attend. Essentially, invitation-only friends will be name-checked on the door. (Amanda asks Steve’s friends who wish to attend to contact her in advance directly or via Shapers of the 80s.)

“Steve’s family hope the church service
won’t become a media event”

A loudspeaker relay outside the church will enable members of the public to follow the service and those who wish to gather there are asked to respect the solemnity of the occasion – which might be a hard ask for some crazier members of Steve’s following! One highlight, Amanda says, will be the award-winning Bridgend male voice choir singing in both Welsh and English.

 Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, funeral, Porthcawl, wake, Hi Tide Inn

Hi Tide Inn: venue for the wake

The free event that is open to the public follows in mid- afternoon at the huge Hi Tide Inn on the sea-front at Porthcawl. Members of Steve’s current band will be playing the music of Visage as a tribute, while screens will show his life on film. Amanda says: “Steve would have wanted his fans to enjoy a celebration of his life.” But let’s all remember that the occasion is a wake after all, and to respect the privacy of a family in mourning and of the close friends who are being invited into a secure area at the inn.

A larger event in tribute to Steve is likely to follow in central London around the time of his birthday in May, but details have not yet been confirmed.

FUNERAL SERVICE FOR
STEVEN JOHN HARRINGTON 1959–2015

Thursday 12 March 2015
12.30pm at All Saints Church, Victoria Avenue, Porthcawl CF36 3HE, Wales

THE WAKE

3pm at Hi Tide Inn, Mackworth Road, Porthcawl CF36 5BT, Wales
(tel 01656 782432)


Previously at Shapersofthe80s

➢ Nowt so Strange as Steven John Harrington,
28 May 1959–12 Feb 2015

➢ Steve Strange RIP: the great provocateur who led from the front and inspired a generation

➢ 1982, Read how London’s leading club host flies off to Paris with six British designers who helped create his image

➢ 1983, At Strange & Egan’s Camden Palace
a silly hat and a calculated look might be the best career move you’ve ever made

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2015 ➤ Blow me! Talking Heads’ David Byrne to curate Meltdown Festival

Talking Heads, David Byrne, Meltdown Festival, London, Southbank Centre, new-wave,

David Byrne: Scottish, musician, singer-songwriter, artist, writer, actor, director, film producer, record producer, photography, opera, new wave, Talking Heads, Grammy, Oscar, Golden Globe, Hall of Fame. (Photograph © James Day)

➢ Marianne Tatepo says it all at Konbini global pop culture magazine:

Very few things can take an ominous word and turn it into something vibrant and exciting. Case in point: Southbank Centre’s Meltdown. For over two decades, the London music festival has been host to illustrious names, both on the commissioning and executing end.

Yoko Ono (2013), Jarvis Cocker (2007), Patti Smith (2005), Morrissey (2004), David Bowie (2002), and the legendary late John Peel (1998) are but a fraction of the impressive minds who have curated this modern arts symposium. This year is no exception with writer-cum-photographer-cum-singer-cum-multi-instrumentalist and Scottish legend David Byrne spearheading this session, scheduled for mid-August.

For its host, Meltdown borders on the miraculous: bands have reunited specially for it (The New York Dolls, at Morrissey’s helm) and on another occasion, the unlikely pack of Nick Cave, Pete Doherty and Grace Jones are reported to have sung Disney tunes together. Meltdown is a cult where the currency is interdisciplinary excellence… / Continued at Konbini online

➢ Watch for news of David Byrne’s Meltdown 17–28 August 2015 at London’s Southbank Centre

➢ David Byrne on how tech affects music and the way we listen – at Wired magazine

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2015 ➤ TV doc pits Boy George versus the rest in Culture Club reunion

Boy George, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss, Culture Club, documentary, TV, Mike Nicholls, reunion, album, New Romantics

Culture Club 2015 style: fractious and bickering, as ever

◼ IN THE EARLY 1980s, Culture Club fronted by the gender-bending Boy George was one of the six British supergroups which dominated pop charts around the world. They won a Brit Award and a Grammy, notched up ten top 40 hits and sold 50 million records before they disbanded in 1986 after George fell victim to drug addiction. A brief reunion around the millennium yielded a tour and an album that didn’t even make the top 40.

Since then temperamental George invested time as a club deejay and in 2009 served time as a jailbird for “falsely imprisoning” and beating a male escort with a metal chain. Other attempted band reunions proved abortive, until the past year when a new album titled Tribes was written though it seemingly cannot be released until funds have been raised through a crowd-sourcing website. This year the deadline for pre-orders was extended to the end of March. And you thought George was millionaire pop royalty living on his royalty stream! Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Meanwhile, 21 putative tour dates for Culture Club in the UK and US had been cancelled because, according to George, a polyp was found on one of his vocal chords. No mention was made of the state of advance ticket sales. So far so bad.

On Friday 6 March BBC4 is scheduled to screen a documentary titled Boy George and Culture Club: Karma to Calamity. Director Mike Nicholls was given unique access and witnessed a fractious band reunion in George’s London home to write new material. Under George’s headstrong leadership, tensions from their past emerged and faultlines developed further when the band spent two weeks together in Spain. Relations became even more strained when George and the band signed to separate managers.

BBC publicity says the hour-long film turns over “the band’s troubled past, examining the themes of success, fame and ego”, which means this is likely to be one for diehard fans only. OK, and voyeurs who want the inside track on the always frought love affair between George and drummer Jon Moss, who today is happily married. In one clip online of bickering band members, Jon himself says: “I fell I love with him, he happened to be a man. We were instantly attracted to each other. It was very exciting.” Guitarist Roy Hay adds the reality check: “I just wanted to be in a band and have fun. I ended up in a ******* homosexual drama.” So much for the glamour of life in pop’s fast lane.

➢ View a clip from the Culture Club documentary
at BBC online

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Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2010, Ex-jailbird George takes his first trancey steps on the path to sainthood

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2010, Three key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names?

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2013, George still in denial over past misdeeds

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➤ Fashionista Webb plays Sherlock to shed light on the mysteries of a smart invitation

Iain R Webb, book launch, Invitation Strictly Personal, fashion, exhibition, Duke Street Emporium,

Webb’s book launch: “It’s all about ego.” (Pic by Hugo von Hugo)

◼ ANOTHER YEAR ANOTHER BOOK LAUNCH. Here’s Iain R Webb doing the honours signing his latest in Mayfair this week – here for Hugo von Hugo, there for Helen David, there again for Carol Morgan, a professional trend tracker who, he swears, leaves a lasting impression on students at Central Saint Martins, something he knows about himself after four decades of journalism and professorialising. “It’s all about ego,” he declares. “That’s the only reason we do it.” A gaggle of respected colleagues are celebrating, from Hilary Alexander down. Let’s not forget Iain himself has edited quite a few smart fashion pages from The Times and Evening Standard to Elle and Harpers & Queen, since his first forays with Blitz.

This evening is what somebody calls a proper fashion event. Not only is Iain signing his latest book, Invitation Strictly Personal, at a launch party hosted by the Duke Street Emporium, the W1 outpost of Jigsaw, but he has also curated an in-store installation inspired by the book’s theme of whimsical, controversial and artistic promotional wheezes. Webb’s own art works are on sale alongside London Fashion Week T-shirts and totebags he has designed. On top of which is a modest display of his fashion ephemera over at Somerset House, while minor gems left out of the book also form the longest Tumblr on the Showstudio website you’ve ever tried to scroll infinitely.

The guests: Click any pic below to launch slideshow

In her foreword to the book, New York-based designer Anna Sui says the trick of a good invitation to a runway show is to allude to the themes of the collection, without giving away too much. Iain says the quandary faced by designers is to create a buzz while ensuring they get the right bums on front-row seats. His big hardback tome poses as a pick-and-dip coffee-table book of seemingly random moments hinting at one man’s dash through a world of smart bric-a-brac. It is more Sherlockian than that, and proves to be an erudite deconstruction of 300 totemic invitations to prestigious fashion events, plus images of promotional treats, none of which the public ever sees. They form a dotty archive while Iain’s insight wrings observation and surprise out of scores of renowned designers from Kenzo, Hamnett, Gaultier, Miyake, Capellino, Dior to any number of former Blitz Kids. Cent magazine calls it all “beyond fascinating”.

The joy of the champagne book-launch is Hils Alexander working the room garlanded in her infamous string of sacred Roman amulets she claims have power over male fertility. Oo-er. Helen David of English Eccentrics notes that Wendy Dagworthy is wearing Marni shoes‬ (is this comfort envy, one-up-manship or simple irony?). Tony Glenville says the event is “like a live Facebook” though ‪Sam McKnight‪ ‪admits afterwards: “I didn’t get any photos, I was too high on nostalgia!”

Also present are Mouchette Bell, ‪Alison Hargreaves‪, Paul Curtin, Franceska Luther King, Marcelo Anciano, Louise Constad, Fiona Dealey, John Galliano (or his spooky lookalike), Carol Morgan, Jacques Azagury, Lucinda Alford, John Prew, Robert Leach, Sarah Dallas, Tony Bannister, Colin McDowell, Greg Davis, Eve Ferret, Terence Nolder, ‪Tony Glenville‪, Fifi Russell, Nick Coleman.

OF THE BOOK, GUESTS SAY:

Russell Marsh‪ It’s a great read‬
Jo Phillips Of course it is divine.
F‪ranceska Luther King‪ ‬Wonderfully put together
Martin Vintner-Jackson Prolific, consummate and complete
Karl Plewka‪ Absolutely FIERCE!
Robert Ogilvie‪ The book just gets better the more I dig into it.‬

The exhibits: Click any pic below to launch slideshow

➢ 40 Years of Fashion Invitations by Iain R Webb featured at Cent magazine – “A gem to be treasured for ever. This stunning book looks at an outstanding collection of more than 300 contemporary fashion-show invitations, and illustrates how the spectacle of the show is not limited to the runway”

➢ An online jumble of cheap and chic fashion-industry mementoes, curated by Iain R Webb at ShowStudio

➢ Somerset House is displaying a modest selection of Iain R Webb’s fashion show ephemera, 16 Feb–22 March 2015 in the Great Arch Hall, free

➢ Invitation Strictly Personal, Goodman Books, £30

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➤ Steve Strange talkative as ever in his last interview

Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, nightclubbing,  funeral, Egypt,dead,

Steve’s tweet on 19 Jan: “Man overboard in the Red Sea”

◼ A VISAGE FAN HOLIDAYING in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in mid-January asked Steve Strange for an interview and he gave one – his last, as far as we know. Maria Elliott from Huddersfield made the audio recording after she bumped into Steve by chance and realised they both had a love of Northern Soul and these are the reminiscences we can listen to after Maria submitted the recording to her community radio station PhoenixFM where she has become “part of the furniture”.

Maria says: “It was actually broadcast on the Thursday evening of his death before I found out. I was going to tweet Steve to tell him how he could listen to the show, then found out and was totally devastated.” Maria sent the audio file to Shapers of the 80s with the wish that it should reach Steve’s family along with her condolences.

LISTEN TO STEVE’S LAST INTERVIEW, JAN 2015

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She says: “My speech therapist put me in touch with Phoenix and the Parkinson’s disease society paid for me to attend a six-week course. Howard Priestley, who runs the station and presents a soul show on Thursdays 8–10pm, asked me to contribute to pre-recorded shows as I can’t really rely on my voice so Howard came up with the idea of recording little snippets and I sometimes call myself Missy Elliott.

“As for me and Steve, we loved the same music. In Egypt we were dancing on the top deck of this boat trip we were on, and we had a fab day.”

On Maria’s 11-minute recording we hear Steve loud and clear, talking 19 to the dozen, as ever. They discuss his teenage years hitch-hiking in pursuit of Northern Soul and how he became a dance champion. He also boasts about his fancy footwork impressing holidaymakers in Egypt: “Last night when I went out here I cleared the floor dancing. I can still move, but I can’t do the backflips.”

Steve Strange, Steven Harrington, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, , funeral, Visage, Egypt, dead,

Steve’s tweet on 15 Jan: with friends at his hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh

MORE PIX FROM THE HOLIDAY IN EGYPT

❏ Debra Hudson wrote to Shapersofthe80s, 23 Feb: “My husband and myself met Steve and Maria [Elliott, see above] on holiday in Egypt. We spent two weeks with Steve up to 28 January and we have some fab photos and a lovely letter he wrote to me. He has touched my heart with laughter and kindness. It was lovely hearing the interview with Maria. Can’t stop crying now. There’s also a picture of Steve in hospital wearing my scarf he took off me, saying that it will be famous one day. He was right. Here [below] are some photos I took and from friends we also met.”


➢ Also at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids pay tribute to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend

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