Category Archives: Social trends

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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➤ Rik Mayall, fireball of comic energy, is dead

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar,

Angry Feminist Poet: Rik Mayall at Soho’s Comic Strip, Nov 1980. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ THE 56-YEAR-OLD STAR of The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and The New Statesman has died suddenly at his home in London. Long before his TV stardom, I met Rik Mayall in November 1980 in pursuit of the first magazine feature about the achingly funny team putting the Comic Strip’s new wave of “alternative comedy” on the map. Here is that first feature about them, with my own pictures:

➢ 1980 – At the Comic Strip, ‘alternative cabaret’ throws up the next generation of household names – here at Shapersofthe80s

Comic Strip, 1980, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Alexei Sayle, alternative comedy

First published in Over21, January 1981

“Awful news about Rik Mayall – a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent” – Rory Bremner

“Rik Mayall was just pure wiry, energetic, unpredictable humour poured into the shape of a human. You couldn’t not watch him” – Charlie Brooker

➢ Ade Edmondson said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing … They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him” – Independent

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar, Alexei Sayle

Twentieth Century Coyote, 1980: Rik Mayall’s coruscating double act with Ade Edmondson, seen backstage at Soho’s Comic Strip club, within Raymond’s Revue Bar. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident – Telegraph

➢ Mark Lawson pays tribute to a dangerously funny man … “The savage charisma that Mayall projected in his TV comedy roles led the director Richard Eyre to cast him, in 1985, in a National Theatre production of Gogol’s political satire The Government Inspector”

➢ Rik Mayall: tributes from comedians, fans and celebrities – Telegraph

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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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➤ 40 years on from Abba, Austria fields a bearded drag artist for Eurovision

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality, drag

Conchita aka Tom: a bearded lady in the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen

❚ THE PRIVATE PERSON TOM NEUWIRTH was born in Austria in 1988 and the art personality Conchita Wurst in 2011, the same year Tom graduated from the Graz School of Fashion. In last night’s second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the bearded drag performer Conchita won her place to represent Austria in Saturday’s final by singing what could pass gloriously as a Bond theme, Rise Like a Phoenix.

The homophobic backlash could have been predicted from conservative nations such as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia where petitions have urged her removal from the competition. Russian politician Vitaly Milonov called her a “pervert” adding: “It is not normal but a person cannot be punished in Russia for being homosexual, or to live with a dog, with a horse, with a sheep, whatever.”

Ms Wurst answered her critics: “I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention’. If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I’m just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.

“I created this bearded lady to show the world that you can do whatever you want,” she said at a press conference in Copenhagen. Although the German word Wurst routinely means “sausage”, its idiomatic meaning is “irrelevant” so signalling that Conchita’s sexuality is a non-issue. She makes a statement for tolerance and acceptance while 25-year-old Tom’s motto is: “Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else.”

➢ Conchita interviewed by Brendan O’Connor on the Irish Saturday Night Show

➢ Live video meet and greet with Conchita Wurst in Copenhagen: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. That’s the way I live”

➢ Ich will einen Grammy” – Conchita wird von deutschem Fernsehen auf dem roten Stuhl interviewt: “Ich bin in Kolumbien geboren, am Bogota. Ich wurde genannt meine Grossmutter, Conchita. Und Wurst, bei mein Vater natürlich Alfred Knack von Wurst”

BEFORE: TOM NEUWIRTH …

… AFTER: CONCHITA WURST

HOT UPDATE MAY 10 – CONCHITA WINS!!!

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality

Conchita Wurst victorious: she was second favourite to win going into the contest (PA)

➢ BBC News reports: Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst has been crowned the winner of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest: “The singer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, collecting 290 points. The Netherlands finished second with 238 points, with Sweden in third place with 218 points. Wurst had been the second favourite to win behind Sweden going in to the competition, with many predicting the act could be too divisive among voters. However she was the clear winner, with her victory announced after 34 of the 37 countries had submitted their scores.”

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