❚ “AN EVENING WITHIN THE ORBIT of London’s Blitz club superstars – and we’re talking about 50 people here – was more than entertaining. You were zapped with a very tangible electric shock — what we’d call today “sensory overload” — as if these exquisite, compulsive posers had revitalised Gilbert & George’s notion from 1969 of processing through the world as living sculptures. The Blitz Kids generated their own crackling versions of hyper-reality that defined the space around them. They included Kim, Julia, Judi, Melissa, Fiona, Jayne, Theresa, Myra, Scarlett, Clare, Michele, Darla, Sade, Kate, Stevie, Naomi, Mandy, Helen, Jo, Perri, Christine and Franceska . . . the Stephens Linard and Jones, Lee, John, Cerith, Simon, Iain, Dylan, Andy, George, Marilyn, Wilf, Greg, Jeffrey, Christos, Graham, Neil, Dencil, Robert, the Holahs, the Richards Ostell and Sharah. A fair few other Blitz Kids, like Strange, Egan, Elms, Sullivan, Dagger, Haines, Ure, O’Donnell, Mole, Ball and Lewis, had the motormouth skills of energetic talkers and schemers who were, as we say today, “good in the room”. Above all, the best among them “made things happen” wherever they set foot. That’s why spending time with them was the best kind of fun – stimulating, argumentative and constructive, whether idling at a bar or bounding around the beach on Bournemouth bank holidays . . . ”
❚ TWENTY FASHIONISTAS among the Blitz Kids shaped the New Romantics silhouette at Covent Garden’s Blitz club — they were Stephen Jones, Kim Bowen, Stephen Linard, Lee Sheldrick, Helen Robinson, Melissa Caplan, Fiona Dealey, Judi Frankland, Michele Clapton, David Holah, Stevie Stewart, Julia Fodor, Dinny Hall, Iain Webb, Simon Withers, Willy Brown, David Holah, Richard Ostell, Rachel Auburn and über-wag Chris Sullivan. Whatever talents Steve Strange and George O’Dowd had for courting publicity, they were entirely dependent on this elite corps of sharp-eyed trendsetters to create the clothes that defined their idiosyncratic and ever-mutating identities.
Julia Fodor in April 1980, before she became Princess: as an assistant at PX, the home of New Romantic ready-to-wear, here wearing a lilac taffeta suit made by Clare Thom, with spiked-collar blouse by Helen Robinson of PX. Photographed in the Endell Street shop by Terry Smith
Britannia rules, or is it Boudica, the warrior queen? George O’Dowd as one of our national emblems (silver lamé helmet by Stephen Jones) helps dress performance artist Miss Binnie for the reopening of the Embassy Club, 5 Sep 1980
Strange and Egan: posing away at the Blitz for Visage’s video for the Visage single (Polydor)
◼ THIS CLIP ABOVE SHOWS THE *ONLY* FOOTAGE of genuine Blitz Kids in the Blitz Club that you will find on the web, authenticated first before inclusion in the Spandau Ballet biopic Soul Boys of the Western World (2014). It remains the only known on-site footage to capture the “New Romantic” spirit of the Tuesday club-night run by Steve Strange, and nine black-and-white stills included in this clip were taken by Yours Truly, aka Shapersofthe80s.
Do not be bamboozled like so many charlies out there at YouTube when they see some of these frames mashed up with video of a fancy-dress party called Come as Your Favourite Blonde, which was *not* organised by Steve Strange but by somebody else on a Sunday evening at the Blitz wine bar to celebrate *her birthday*. The fact that six Blitz Kids can be seen among the other 100 guests wearing blonde wigs and gold masks and a Miss Piggy is probably inevitable but actually a sheer coincidence. That footage came from reporter-turned-director Lyndall Hobbs’s cinema short called Steppin’ Out (1979), featuring the Queen’s lookalike Jeannette Charles in a general survey of London subcultures, more of which was visibly shot in the Embassy club than at the non-Romantic blondes party at the Blitz, with as much again shot during a coach trip to a roller-disco in Dunstable. So get your facts right, you YouTube charlies in your Old Romantic dreamworlds!
St Martin’s graduate fashion designer Stephen Linard at the height of his commercial success in 1984, when he worked for three years for Jun Co in Japan. Here pictured by Toscani for i-D magazine’s issue No 15 in “An illustrated guide to detail”. He sports a leather Confederate Army cap $15 bought in transit through Anchorage airport in Alaska. The jacket £250 over giant-collared shirt £120, and trousers £200 are all by Yohji Yamamoto. Waistcoat £180 by Gianni Versace. Artfully placed on his left lapel is a silvered bathroom tap £60 and faucet brooch £40, both from a jewellery collection for Chloe, Paris. He said: “It was worth it for the stir it caused at the Paris collections.”
Time Out, Jan 1981, and the New Romantics are about to reap their first whirlwind of media coverage: “An enclosed world where style is all, and a fashion ends as it begins”
❚ AFTER FEARLESSLY EXPERIMENTING WITH SEX and drugs and fashion, the Blitz Kids in this video tell their own alternative history of the early 80s when music and style were all, and how you looked was who you were. Street fashion led a whole new wave of dressing up rather than down like punk, and British music and style spread across the world as one. This otherwise excellent summary of the early 80s, created to accompany the V&A’s 2013 fashion exhibition Club to Catwalk, places too much gloomy emphasis on Aids, which was identified in 1982.
❏ iPAD & TABLET USERS PLEASE NOTE — You are viewing only a very small selection of content from this wide-ranging website on the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard PC view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer
➢ Choose “View full site” – then in the blue bar atop your mobile page, click the three horizontal lines linking to many blue themed pages with background articles.
MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapers of the 80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
“The rather brilliant Shapers of the 80s website” – Dylan Jones in his Sweet Dreams paperback, 2021
A UNIQUE HISTORY
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU at page top to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH scroll down this sidebar
❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
VINCENT ON AIR 2022
✱ Deejay legend Robbie Vincent returned to JazzFM on Sundays 1-3pm in 2021… Catch Robbie’s JazzFM August Bank Holiday 2020 session thanks to AhhhhhSoul with four hours of “nothing but essential rhythms of soul, jazz and funk”.
SEARCH our 800 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
LANDMARK FAREWELLS. . . HIT THE INDEX TAB UP TOP FOR EVERYTHING ELSE
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This is an amazing site…
This is a great site which brings back some amazing memories.
Thank god. I’ve been waiting for a site just like this, for ages!
this site just gets better and better.
This is fantastic!! Your memories and photographs are a GEM. They have enlightened me about the 80s, a very important decade for me. The 80s influenced so many artist and movements. There are beautiful notes still playing in the fringes of today’s sub-culture, from that decade.
Thank you – Rachel P. – Miami, Florida (USA)
Listening to Lo-Fiction by Jori Hulkkonen feat Jerry Valuri — it gives the same vibe as so many of the early electro pioneers did back then. Loved electronic then, love it still.
Love this web site. Always on it.
Shapersofthe80s writes: Thanks, Dean!
Best time ever. Music today is alive because of us back then!! Mark
Come to hear Iain R Webb talking to Princess Julia about his new book…
Beautiful Freaks: From Blitz kids to As Seen In BLITZ magazine – Iain R Webb on Wed 17th April at bathinfashion
Devastated at the loss of one of the real gods of the 80s. A real Pioneer
Hi everyone ! I’m french, so sorry if my english is not so good, haha !
Being a big, big fan of the early-80s music and culture, I must say that this website is quite good ! New-Romantics scene was such like a big family. I would have dreamed to be a part of that. Such a creative era ! David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” videoclip with the Blitz Kids helped me to go back to that period, so currently I listen to Visage, Ultravox, OMD… in high rotation. All the best, xx Aubin (France)
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A romance about the New Romantics! Set in the 1980s and has some of the Blitz Kids in it, I think. And a party or two.
* Shapersofthe80s writes: Bit of a blatant book plug, this, but probably a hidden gem.
Love this! Especially the mention of vintage shop Cornucopia. I got so many of my vintage frocks there, I still have a couple of them!
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