Tag Archives: V&A museum

➤ V&A celebrates Steve Strange as the poser who put the pazazz into 80s nightlife

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, fashion, pop music, Swinging 80s, archive, nightlife, Steve Strange, Keith Lodwick, lunchtime lecture, V&A museum,

Giving this week’s V&A Lunchtime Lecture, May 2018: Curator Keith Lodwick in full flow. . . On-screen, Bowie’s Pierrot costume displayed in the V&A’s 2013 exhibition Bowie Is, with Steve Strange and other Blitz Kids pictured in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video in 1980

80S POP-STAR FRIENDS OF STEVE STRANGE turned out this week for a unique event at the V&A, the UK’s premier museum of art and design. The weekly Lunchtime Lecture was titled Steve Strange: From Blitz Club to Top of the Pops, and was delivered by Keith Lodwick, curator of Theatre and Screen Arts, to an audience that included singer Clare Grogan, ABC’s Martin Fry and his wife Julie, Jennie Matthias from The Belle Stars and Fifi Russell from Yip Yip Coyote. Steve’s mother Gillian Harrington and his sister Tanya had travelled from Wales with PR Amanda Lloyd to attend the occasion with other family members.

The talk traced Strange’s flamboyant life from Wigan Casino, through glam-rock and punk, to hosting a landmark club-night at Billy’s jointly with deejay Rusty Egan, then another at the Blitz in 1979–80. This was the club-night that Band Aid organiser Midge Ure has described as “the beating heart of the electronic dance music that led the 1980s.”

Strange said of his strict admissions policy on the door: “I wanted creative-minded pioneers who looked like a walking piece of art.” Indeed, the club became Strange’s own catwalk for sporting outrageous outfits by both the leading designers of the day and London’s budding fashion students. Lodwick said: “He once told a journalist ‘I am on stage 24 hours a day’. Steve, who died in 2015, remains one of the enduring figures of the New Romantic period.”

Click any pic below to view larger in a slideshow

Lodwick reminded us of the pop pantheon Strange was joining at the museum when he extended “a huge thank-you to Gill, Tanya and Amanda for being a link in the chain that enabled the V&A to acquire Steve’s archive and costumes two years ago. The family donated mainly clothes from the 2000s – including designs by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. Steve’s costumes join those worn by Sandie Shaw, the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, Jimmy Page, Elton John and Adam Ant.”

We watched two video clips which underlined Strange’s obsession with image-making: the music video for his band Visage’s hit Fade to Grey in which he is transformed into a snake; and a documentary in which milliner Stephen Jones suggests that berets he made for both Strange and for the Princess of Wales coupled them “as a fashion force together”.

Lodwick concluded: “Steve’s legacy will live on for being central to re-energising the club scene in London – pushing forward electronic music, fashion, photography and pop.”

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s: Strange days, strange nights – first report on the Blitz from Yours Truly in 1980

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
2015, Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer, by Yours Truly

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, fashion, pop music, Swinging 80s, archive, nightlife, Steve Strange, Keith Lodwick, lunchtime lecture, V&A museum,

At this week’s V&A talk: Some of the women in Steve Strange’s life. . . From the left, sister Tanya Harrington, Monica Towner, Rachelle Boyle, Eve Ferrett, Kimbo at centre next to Steve’s mum Gill, Jennie (Belle Stars) Matthias (almost hidden at back), Wendy Tiger, Alison Graham, Amanda Lloyd far right

➢ Talks, lectures, conversations and pop-up events at the V&A


2013 ➤ Bowie’s psychodrama The Stars mocks the rockiness of godliness

[Video NSFW]

❚ WHAT A FRISKY, UNSETTLING VIDEO David Bowie has created for this year’s second single, The Stars (Are Out Tonight). It’s hard to tell who’s doing what to whom in this sexy Rocky Horror homage on the theme of celebrity stalking.

The souls of a happily married suburban couple are haunted by the neighbours, a tantalising pair of godlike and androgynous celebrity sirens played by supermodels Andrej Pejic and Saskia De Brauw, who have been cast from Bowie’s 70s character moulds. The story sees wifey, played by  Tilda Swinton, morph into another early Bowie lookalike, which has often seemed to be her destiny. Dave himself ends up in mindless zombie mode despite his protective bemused face, the me-looking-at-me double-take, first clocked in his 2003 Vittel TV commercial.

David Bowie,The Stars (Are Out Tonight),video,Floria Sigismondi, Andrej Pejic

Waiting to make their night-time moves: Andrej is about to plonk one on David in the video for The Stars. © 2013 ISO Records

Even today, it’s brave that gender-bending role-play is the medium for The Stars’ saga of corruption, depicted with a cold eroticism appropriate to the zeitgeist. That we’re led astray by ambivalent naked body parts in a pseudo-Hitchcockian psychodrama is eye-popping. On top of which, this absorbing, elegant mini-movie by Floria Sigismondi makes flesh of a rocking melody and an intelligent song, delivered with classic Bowie vocals. (Here, musically, is another echo from 2003’s album Reality, which was widely under-rated.) The weirdo video for The Stars is all of a piece: it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s creepy and it’s funny.

Also: Dave is sporting a proper set of glam teeth and NO evidence of a turkey neck at 66. So unfair.

David Bowie,The Stars (Are Out Tonight),video,Floria Sigismondi

Gender-bending confusion: “Brigitte, Jack, Kate and Brad”, according to the lyric for Bowie’s The Stars. © 2013 ISO Records

➢ The Stars on sale at iTunes

➢ 2013, Shock and awe verdicts on Bowie’s born-again masterpiece – Shapersofthe80s rounds up verdicts on Where Are We Now?

1970 ➤ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam:
naff blokes in Bacofoil versus starmen with pretensions
— analysis by Shapersofthe80s