Category Archives: Fashion

1978–87 ➤ British nightlife snapped by Ridgers as it came out of the closet

London, New Romantics, Blitz Kids,  Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Underground publicity: Derek Ridgers with lavish poster treatment for his photo-book published jointly by Damiani and Transport for London. (Pic by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ THIS FRIDAY AT THE V&A MUSEUM, London photographer Derek Ridgers will try to explain the power of his touching yet confrontational images of London youth taken in the transformational decade of the 1980s. His newly published book 78–87 London Youth can be viewed online. He is best known for these documentary portraits taken on the streets and in the clubs by night, though he has also snapped celebs from James Brown to The Spice Girls, Clint Eastwood to Johnny Depp, as well as Tony Blair, gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser, artist Julian Schnabel, writer Martin Amis, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and more.

The recessionary 70s had precipitated a drone age of rocketing unemployment in the UK, threatening no jobs for school-leavers, ever. Yet from this black hole burst a passionately tribal youth culture that was to create the Swinging 80s, an era of optimism, marked by hedonistic good times and a flair for exhibitionism that played up to Derek’s camera. Ambition and self-improvement were the ultimate goals of the young then, in sharp contrast to the cynical narcissism of today’s lost children.

➢ Derek Ridgers talks on photographing the 80s at the V&A’s late evening, 6.30pm Friday July 18, with yours truly in the chair. Derek will be signing his book afterwards

London,Sacrosanct,  Billie Madley , Twinkle Bunty, Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Twinkle Bunty comments on this Sacrosanct club pic by Ridgers posted at Facebook: “Just trotted over to Foyles and bought Derek Ridgers’ fab new book. Thrilled to find this pic from 1985 of me and Billie Madley proving that the 80s were ALL about the eyebrows. Mine were jet black Rimmel and Billie’s were red BIRO.” Another from ‪Laura Whitcomb: “When you shaved that eyebrow it was epic… That Westwood shirt and suit and of course those ear muffs your obsession – and the inimitable final touch of a Fosters with a baby blue straw.” Plastic bath cap: Billie’s own.

❚ IN OCTOBER 1982, I INTERVIEWED DEREK RIDGERS while writing the massive survey of London’s newly exploding nightlife phenomenon which became The Face’s cover story, The making of UK club culture in February 1983. Direct from my original notes, here is Derek’s perceptive analysis which helped inform my thinking about the turmoil that was transforming British youth culture…

Derek talking: “The depression of the late 70s made the future oh so inevitable. But from the Blitz club period onward [1979], the feeling has been different. A reaction of ambisexual kitsch. It’s an honesty with the way you look and what you want to do. There’s an enthusiasm to investigate the possibilities. There’s no sense of inevitability.

“As a photographer, I go as the casual observer and stand in the shadows. When I first went to those Tuesday nights at Billy’s [1978] it was like walking into a Hieronymous Bosch painting – furtive but lively, very decadent reflecting what they were into, and yet with a sense of oneness, a dedication that’s never been equalled since.”

In 1980 the Blitz leaders had moved on to another Covent Garden club called Hell which Derek said “was similar but more decadent because they tried to keep it to themselves. In its final weeks, only out-of-towners were going to the Blitz, because by then the media had blown away the furtiveness”.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

In 1982 Steve Strange and Rusty Egan began fronting the 1,600-capacity Camden Palace and the Pose Age went public. Ridgers said then: “At the Palace poses are adopted, yet it’s probably more interesting than the Blitz or Billy’s because it’s more honest… 90% are regulars, 9% out-of-towners, and 1% could be any type of person who’ll choose to go clubbing there, but go nowhere else except their own pub. Sometimes they’re out of their depth and try to dress as they think is expected – they bring with them an unconsidered primitiveness.

“Men are wearing dresses now but not pretending to be women. They are proud to be men – that’s fairly modern.” In autumn 1982 Boy George was in the charts with Culture Club’s first single. “George wants to look pretty, rather than handsome. He asks me whether I find him attractive and I have to pretend he’s a girl and give him an appraisal – which I don’t mind. I don’t feel threatened.”

“What’s important at the Palace is feeling special, being noticed – in a sea of other people. A good club has become a place to go for the right social reasons, rather than just to hang out.”

➢ View more Ridgers portfolio at his website

ESSENTIAL READS

➢ Blitz kids and the birth of the New Romantics – my overview for the Observer Music Magazine

➢ 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture
– for The Face magazine, here at Shapersofthe80s

Derek Ridgers, publishing, photography, V&A, talks, youth culture, nightlife, fashion style,

Cover star Tuinol Barry photographed by Derek Ridgers in 1983. Sadly, Barry was to die young.

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ss2015 ➤ Yohji upstages the world with wild impudent vagabond princes

Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
❚ MORE AVANT THAN THE AVANT GARDE is this blistering display of individuality from Yohji Yamamoto at Paris Fashion Week. His daring menswear for spring-summer 2015 hurls princely nobility together with vagabond grunge. His mix of rich and distressed fabrics with abstract cutting sets a subversive new silhouette that is both tailored and casual. Yohji’s East meets West kaleidoscope collides patchworks, dyes, chambrays, straps, pinstripes, scarves and hats. It makes for strong stuff. [All photography from Vogue online]

Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
Yohji Yamamoto, 2015 Spring/Summer, menswear, Collection, Paris Fashion Week, grunge, tailoring, deconstruction
➢ More runway shots of Yohji Yamamoto’s menswear collection for ss2015 at Vogue online

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➤ Fearsome Louise, head of fashion at St Martin’s, dies suddenly

Timmi Aggrey, fashion, Louise Wilson, St Martins

Louise Wilson with her partner, Timmi Aggrey: At Buckingham Palace to receive the OBE in 2008

Louise Wilson: “As much as I might decry the students,
as much as they’re a nightmare, it is a privilege
to be among youth”

➢ Central Saint Martins professor who trained a generation of British fashion designers – Louise Wilson obituary in The Guardian

The honest appraisals given by Professor Louise Wilson – head of the MA fashion course at Central Saint Martins, London, who has died aged 52 – trained a generation of British designers who, in turn, shaped the course of contemporary fashion across a 20-year span. They include Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou.

Louise listed one of her recreations in Who’s Who as “voicing one’s opinion”. Passing the door to her office at Central Saint Martins, you could not help but be assailed by them. “It looks like a Halloween costume made by a drunk mother one wet night in October”, is one that sticks in the mind. Her powers of observation were underscored by a studied appreciation of how clothes could express themselves all the better if only they were coherent in their design… / Continued at Guardian online

There was a saying at St Martins: “If you can survive Louise’s comments, you’re ready to go into the world.”

Stella McCartney on Twitter: “What an inspiration and force in fashion. No one will ever replace you because you were a true one off. r.i.p xx Stella”

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➤ Calling fashionistas for their tales of Spandau Ballet in the New Romantic 80s

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, fans,

IS THIS YOU? May 8, 1982: A teenage fan shins the drainpipe at the Liverpool Empire giving access to Spandau Ballet’s dressing room on their first nationwide tour with the Diamond album. Snapped by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ WERE YOU A FAN of Spandau Ballet in the 1980s? Here’s an appeal for your experiences from a reputable documentary film-maker…

We are looking to speak to people who lived through the early years of the band’s success in the 80s for a BBC 4 documentary on the history of music and fashion in post-war Britain.

We are particularly interested in hearing from people who took fashion inspiration from them and the New Romantics scene and may still have some clothing from that period. If you can identify with this and wouldn’t mind speaking to a member of the team about your experiences please contact Lucy Joyner: ljoyner [ a t ] oxfordscientificfilms.tv

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,  1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Unrivalled adulation in the early 80s: Tony Hadley faces the audience during Spandau Ballet’s Diamond tour of 1982. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

DID YOU WITNESS POP HISTORY IN THE MAKING?

❏ Who are the two Liverpool music fans so keen to meet their idols that they shinned the drainpipe at the Empire theatre leading to the dressing room of Spandau Ballet, Britain’s premier New Romantic band of the 80s? After knocking on the window, the girls achieved their goal when bass player Martin Kemp helped them to safety inside.

The year was 1982. Spandau’s seventh single Instinction had put them on Top of the Pops during Easter week and sales were rocketing. The night of May 8, towards the end of Spandau’s first nationwide tour, with stand-up comedian Peter Capaldi in support, has become known as The Return of the Scream. The moment the house lights dimmed, a mighty roar lifted the roof off the Empire, the city’s legendary music venue. It didn’t stop for 75 minutes. The band hadn’t heard anything so intense and were visibly shaken when they came offstage. Guitarist Gary Kemp said in disbelief: “I had to stop playing. I couldn’t hear my own monitor.”

What we had all witnessed was the return of the true teenybop scream, the continuous bellow from the lungs, little heard since the days of the Beatles. Security men and women were clearly caught out by the pandemonium as they wrestled to persuade the screamers back to their seats. One Empire veteran said that night he’d heard nothing like it since the Bay City Rollers in the mid-1970s.

A crowd of at least 500 fans surrounded the stage door afterwards and a shadow had only to fall across a dressing-room window for the scream to start again in the street. Two girls then decided to shin the drainpipe and beat the second-storey window with their handbags until they were let in.

Police with batons eventually arrived and the band managed to escape through the front doors of the theatre, but only after two decoy departures had been staged. Even so, in the murderous dash through the crowd packing the pavement, saxophonist Steve Norman lost a bracelet and singer Tony Hadley a chunk of his scalp. As their coach pulled away, I was stranded on the kerb photographing the mayhem.

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Liverpool Empire, 1982, Diamond Tour, Martin Kemp, fans, Gary Kemp,Steve Norman, Tony Hadley, Peter Capaldi

Inside the Liverpool Empire, May 8, 1982: fans shocked security staff with the roar that greeted Spandau Ballet. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

Spandau Ballet, Blitz Kids, New Romantics, ,1980,Scala Cinema, concert,OMM,pop music,
➢ An early Spandau Ballet date at the Scala cinema described above in The Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics – in the Observer Music Magazine 2009

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2014 ➤ Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

Spandau Ballet

Spandau ahoy! Houseband of the New Romantics playing aboard HMS Belfast in 1980. Martin Kemp on bass, Steve Norman on guitar. (Photo by Virginia Turbett)

FEB 12 UPDATE FROM SPANDAU AT FACEBOOK:

Spandau Ballet (Official)
“Awesome Spandau meeting yesterday! 2014 and 2015 are shaping up rather nicely, I would say.”

“Look out for MORE exciting Spandau news coming very soon! This is just the start.”

❚ SEVERAL MOVIE DISCOVERIES have been made by the researchers on Spandau Ballet’s new biopic Soul Boys of the Western World, due to be premiered on March 12 in the USA at SXSW. One is footage of the band’s secret live performance aboard the World-War Two cruiser HMS Belfast. In order to emphasise the newness of their synthesised pop music, the band’s ground rule was never to appear at established rock venues. So for their seventh invitation-only date on July 26, 1980, a glittering horde of Blitz Kids descended on the warship moored in the Thames near the Tower of London.

Spandau Ballet, archive, HMS Belfast,SXSW,Blitz Kids

Precious footage of Spandau’s HMS Belfast gig, 1980: two reels of Super8 exhumed from the vaults by ex-Blitz Kid Nick Jones

Songwriter Gary Kemp says: “There are two pieces of archive that most surprised me. The first was the HMS Belfast performance from 1980. I never knew it existed until last year when our manager Steve Dagger had a vague memory that one of the Blitz Kids, Nick Jones, had a Super 8 camera. (He went on to play in the Latin-tinged dance-band Funkapolitan with Tom Dixon and Kadir Guirey, and today he’s a successful director of commercials.) It was some time before Nick could gain access to his storage and at first found nothing. Then we got sent the pic you see alongside.”

Kemp adds: “The footage is in beautiful Super 8 colour and shows the raw energy of that night inside the hot and steamy ship. It lasts eight minutes, but was enough to evoke the moment when Spandau were THE band of London, elusive, unique, magnificent.”

Petr Capaldi, Spandau Ballet, 1982,

Peter Capaldi at 23: comic support on Spandau’s 1982 Diamond tour. (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)

He adds: “The other archive that revealed itself, 33 years after being filmed, was the entire New York gig that we did in the Underground club in 1981.” This footage emerged after painstaking inquiries only last autumn and Spandau can be seen onstage in all their glory sporting their nomadic serfs garb from the Musclebound video.

Some of us also remember the 23-year-old Scottish stand-up who was invited to support Spandau Ballet on the Diamond tour of the UK in 1982. This was Peter Capaldi who has enjoyed spectacular success in the years since then and was revealed recently as the BBC’s 12th Doctor Who.

Kemp adds: “The new Doctor Who is definitely seen in the film – on a tour bus I believe – which explains his new Tony Hadley style as Doctor Who! Come and see the movie and enjoy our history.”

ENTRY TO SXSW EVENTS CANNOT BE GUARANTEED

❏ Plan before you travel: SXSW is an industry event which charges hefty registration fees, for example, Films-only registration costs $650 for walkups. However the website says if, after delegates with badges and wristbands are seated at film events, any seats remain, “single-admission tickets will be sold for $10 starting 15 minutes before showtime”.

SXSW update after the live gig is announced, Feb 21: “For the music portion of the event, the situation is very similar. There will most likely be tickets for sale at the door but it varies from venue to venue. Tickets may be sold if capacity allows. Our best advice is to get to the venue early or contact them to see if they will be selling tickets at the door and also see how long the wristband/badge lines are to judge if you could even get in.”

➢ 1982, How Spandau put Capaldi on the road to play
the new Doctor Who

➢ Spandau together again as their ‘surprise’ movie is slated for Texas premiere – more on SXSW 2014 at Shapersofthe80s

New Romantics,

Blitz Kids ahoy! A dazzling audience aboard HMS Belfast for Spandau Ballet’s seventh date. (Photo – Getty)

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