2012 Features - Look through the features that were the best of what 2012 had to offer.
A true ChicGeek, David Bowie is the 20th century's most influential pop star. To celebrate, the V&A has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie. David Bowie is, will explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades.
The V&A’s Theatre and Performance curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, have selected more than 300 objects that will be brought together for the very first time. They include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork. The V&A will take an in-depth look at how David Bowie’s music and radical individualism has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design and contemporary culture. The exhibition will also demonstrate how he has inspired others to challenge convention and pursue freedom of expression.
The exhibition will explore the broad range of Bowie’s collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film. On display will be more than 60 stage-costumes including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, Kansai Yamamoto’s flamboyant creations for the Aladdin Sane tour (1973) and the Union Jack coat designed by Bowie and Alexander McQueen for the Earthling album cover (1997). Also on show will be photography by Brian Duffy, Terry O’Neill and Masayoshi Sukita; album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; visual excerpts from films and live performances including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Saturday Night Live (1979); music videos such as Boys Keep Swinging (1979) and Let’s Dance (1983) and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974). Alongside these will be more personal items such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.
Martin Roth, Director of the V&A, said: "David Bowie is a true icon, more relevant to popular culture now than ever. His radical innovations across music, theatre, fashion and style still resound today in design and visual culture and he continues to inspire artists and designers throughout the world. We are thrilled to be presenting the first ever exhibition drawn from the David Bowie Archive."
The exhibition will offer insight into Bowie’s early years and his first steps towards musical success. Tracing the creative aspirations of the young David Robert Jones (born 1947 in Brixton, London), it will show how he was inspired by innovations in art, theatre, music, technology and youth culture in Britain in the aftermath of the Second World War. Pursuing a professional career in music and acting, he officially adopted the stage name ‘David Bowie’ in 1965 and went through a series of self-styled changes from Mod to mime artist and folk singer to R&B musician in anticipation of the shifting nature of his later career. On display will be early photographs, LPs from his musical heroes such as Little Richard, and Bowie’s sketches for stage sets and costumes created for his bands The Kon-rads and The King Bees in the 1960s.
This opening section will conclude with a focus on Bowie’s first major hit Space Oddity (1969) and the introduction of the fictional character Major Tom, who would be revisited by Bowie in both Ashes to Ashes (1980) and Hallo Spaceboy (1995). Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the single was released to coincide with the first moon landing and was Bowie’s breakthrough moment, granting him critical and commercial success as an established solo artist.
The exhibition will move on to examine David Bowie’s creative processes from song writing, recording and producing to designing costumes, stage sets and album artwork. Working within both established art forms and new artistic movements, this section will reveal the scope of his inspirations and cultural references from Surrealism, Brechtian theatre and avant-garde mime to West End musicals, German Expressionism and Japanese Kabuki performance. On show will be some of Bowie’s own musical instruments, footage and photography of recording sessions for Outside (1995) and ‘Hours…’ (1999) as well as handwritten lyrics and word collages inspired by William Burroughs’ ‘cut up’ method of writing that have never previously been publicly displayed.
David Bowie is will chronicle his innovative approach to creating albums and touring shows around fictionalised stage personas and narratives. 1972 marked the birth of his most famous creation; Ziggy Stardust, a human manifestation of an alien being. Ziggy’s daringly androgynous and otherworldly appearance has had a powerful and continuous influence on pop culture, signalling a challenge of social traditions and inspiring people to shape their own identities. On display will be the original multi-coloured suit worn for the pivotal performance of Starman on Top of the Pops in July 1972, as well as outfits designed for stage characters Aladdin Sane and The Thin White Duke. Costumes from The 1980 Floor Show (1973), album cover sleeves for The Man Who Sold the World (1970) and Hunky Dory (1971), alongside press cuttings and fan material, will highlight Bowie’s fluid stylistic transformations and his impact on social mobility and gay liberation.
The final section will celebrate David Bowie as a pioneering performer both on stage and in film, concentrating on key performances throughout his career. An immersive audio-visual space will present dramatic projections of some of Bowie’s most ambitious music videos including DJ (1979) and The Hearts Filthy Lesson (1995), as well as recently uncovered footage of Bowie performing Jean Genie on Top of the Pops in 1973 and D.A. Pennebaker’s film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture (1973). A separate screening room will show excerpts and props from Bowie’s feature films such as Labyrinth (1986) and Basquiat (1996).
In addition, this gallery will trace the evolution of the lavishly produced Diamond Dogs tour (1974), the design of which was inspired by Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis (1927) and George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). The tour combined exuberant choreography and a colossal set design, taking the combination of rock music and theatre to new heights. On display will be previously unseen tour footage and storyboards for the proposed musical that Bowie would eventually transform into the Diamond Dogs album and touring show. An area will also be dedicated to the monochrome theatricality of Bowie’s Berlin period and the creation of the stylish Thin White Duke persona identified with the Station to Station album and tour (1976). It will also investigate the series of experimental and pioneering records he produced between 1977 and 1979 whilst living in Germany, known as the Berlin Trilogy.
David Bowie is will conclude with a display of striking performance and fashion photography taken by photographers including Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts and John Rowlands. These professional portraits will be juxtaposed with a collage of visual projections illustrating Bowie’s immense creative influence and ubiquitous presence in music, fashion and contemporary visual and virtual culture.
23 March – 28 July 2013
This was on our list last year but was delayed and pushed back to the middle of 2013. Baz Luhrmann's sumptuous remake of F.Scott Fitzgerald's novel will be a fashion-fest with Prada designing Carey Mulligan's wardrobe and Brooks Brothers doing the menswear.
Brooks Brothers are releasing a special collection to coincide with the release in May featuring items inspired by the film. Let's just hope the extra wait was worth it.
American retailer J. Crew is finally opening on London's Regent Street in late 2013. The brand's first overseas boutique, they are moving into the old Burberry store. The two-floor space will span 17,000 square-feet and will have separate men's and women's stores, with different entrances.
While J.Crew's own label is great, it's the collaborations with the likes of Drakes, Alden and Barbour that we really love. While they do ship to the UK at the moment, being particular like TheChicGeek, nothing beats seeing it in person and trying it on.
Many American retailers like Banana Republic or Club Monaco have arrived in the UK with great fanfare but often the pricing is off, becoming too expensive and doesn't rival our own high-street for affordable fashion. If they can get that right and continue with the amazing collaborations, we think this could be a new firm favourite.
Music and clubbing has always been intertwined with fashion and none more so than in the 1980s. The V&A’s fashion exhibition for summer 2013, Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s, will explore the creative explosion of London fashion in the 1980s and the impact of club culture.. More than 85 outfits by designers such as John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and Katherine Hamnett will be on display together with accessories by designers including Stephen Jones and Patrick Cox.
The ground floor gallery will focus on the young fashion designers who found themselves on the world stage for creating bold, exciting looks. The mezzanine gallery will concentrate on club wear, grouping garments by tribes such as Fetish, Goth, Rave, High Camp and New Romantics. This includes clothes of the type worn by Boy George and Adam Ant, as well as more extreme designs worn by Leigh Bowery.
To provide a snapshot of the most fashionable and creative designers working in London in the 1980s, the exhibition shows a display of Blitz denim jackets. In 1986, Blitz magazine commissioned a group of 22 London-based designers to customise denim jackets provided by Levi Strauss & Co. The jackets were exhibited at the V&A and auctioned in aid of the Prince’s Trust on 10th July 1986.
Further cases will display garments by influential 1980s designers, with a substantial amount of menswear designs by Jasper Conran, Paul Smith, Workers for Freedom and Willy Brown who dressed Duran Duran. Textile design played an important part of 1980s fashion, with designers such as Betty Jackson working with design collectives like The Cloth, helping to create the archetypal early 80s silhouette of loose shirts and bold prints. Wendy Dagworthy utilised Liberty prints while English Eccentrics and Timney Fowler made print fashionable. There will also be sections dedicated to the energetic, bright clothes of Chrissie Walsh, Georgina Godley, Bodymap and John Galliano.
In the early 1980s Katherine Hamnett pioneered the vogue for stylish, casual clothing made in oversize crumpled cottons and silks. Her designs were often based on utilitarian boiler suits and army fatigues. She conceived a series of T-shirts emblazoned with slogans, using fashion as the platform for her Green politics. Hamnett caused a sensation by wearing her T-shirt with the slogan '58% Don't Want Pershing' to meet the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984.
Bodymap, founded in 1982 by Stevie Stewart and David Holah, produced an exhilarating blend of form-fitting knits, layered stretch Lycra jersey and rhythmic print. As one fashion editorial noted, their inspiration had ‘sprung from the streets, sharpened in the clubs’. The designers gained further momentum through their collaborations with choreographer Michael Clark. Mixing and matching, or ‘bricolage’, was reflected in the titles and themes of Bodymap collections, such as Cat in the Hat takes a Rumble with a Techno Fish, which pulled together elements of Dr Seuss’s surreal cartoon comedy, black-and-white graphics, bright colours and 1980s American ‘bratpack’ films.
John Galliano graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1984. His degree Collection, Les Incroyables, was inspired by the French Revolution and he spent many hours studying the dress collections at the V&A. Two of Galliano's menswear ensembles from the 1985 Fallen Angel collection will be on display, along with a pink, muslin dress from 1986.
London’s clubs in the 1980s acted as a site for the convergence of music and fashion and provided a safe environment in which young people could experiment and mix with those of similar tastes. Fashion designer Stevie Stewart of Body Map noted that ‘each group of people, whether they were fashion designers, musicians or dancers, filmmakers or whatever, living together, going out together and at the same clubs … had a passion then for creating something new … that was almost infectious’. Examples of the resultant looks will be displayed, ranging from the exaggerated, exotic styles favoured by the Blitz crowd, through the distressed styles of Hard Times, to the eclectic mixing and individual expression of Taboo, to the dance influenced looks of acid house.
In September 1982, The Face observed a ‘hardening of attitudes in music and fashion’ that reflected the economic conditions of Thatcherite Britain: ‘Ubiquitous Levi’s worn into holes, sweatshirts serving their purpose and losing their sleeves, leather dominating everything … big boots and no socks and espadrilles … T-shirts ripped and torn’. The ‘Hard Times’ look coincided with a revival of rockabilly style in clothing and music, reflected in leather designs by Lloyd Johnson.
At Taboo, so-called because ‘there is nothing you can’t do there’, Leigh Bowery became the ringmaster of a carnivalesque nightspot, where parodying the norms of everyday life and ‘fashion’ was encouraged. Clothes designed and worn by Bowery will be on display along side fetishwear by Pam Hogg and Vivienne Westwood. Clothes by Christopher Nemeth and jewellery by Judy Blame will show how customisation, DIY and re-appropriation of objects prevailed as the club look.
Michiko Koshino’s first store in Covent Garden had a dance club atmosphere and included DJ turntables to complete the effect. In 1987, she began a line of menswear called Motorking, which was worn by David Bowie and Moby. Her club designs included garments made from inflatable plastic fabric that blurred the distinction between art and fashion.
Rave and euphoric house nights, where the combination of dance music and drugs created an atmosphere in which inhibitions were totally gone, changed dress once again. Following the summer of 1987, a number of DJs began to recreate the sound and atmosphere of the Ecstasy-fuelled Ibiza dance clubs. The loose shapes of the early 1980s disappeared and a new kind of tight fitting club wear evolved that featured day-glo colours and metallic tones. This movement is represented by the designs of Rifat Ozbek and Westwood’s silver leather ‘armoured’ jackets.
The atmosphere of friendly and fun clubs like Shoom began to be reflected in much more casual styles. The dressed-up aesthetic of earlier clubs, like Taboo, was replaced by ‘ponchos, dungarees, and loose T-shirts bearing the yellow Smiley motif’ as reported The Face in June 1988.
A small club-like area will be created within the space to show film footage of clubs from the 1980s and stream music chosen by DJ Princess Julia. There will also be unique garments made for club stars such as Leigh Bowery, Scarlett and Juliana Sissons.
The exhibition will feature magazines of the time – The Face, i-D and Blitz – that captured and propagated the club and street look to a wider audience. The Face heralded the arrival of the ‘style’ magazine and combined a sense of immediacy with the high-end production values of Vogue and Tatler. i-D was launched in August 1980. It adopted a radical agenda by showcasing street fashions and featuring non-professional models. Essentially a fashion fanzine, this ‘exercise in social documentation’ evolved into a magazine that, alongside The Face, was considered the definitive ‘style bible’ of the 1980s.
Accessories were an essential part of any clubber or fashion follower’s wardrobe and the 1980s launched the careers of some hugely influential accessories designers. The work of Judy Blame, Bernstock Speirs, Patrick Cox, Johnny Moke and collaborations with Sock Shop will be on display alongside the Filofax and Mulberry bags.
Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s
10th July 2013 - 16th February 2014
Above - John Galliano - Fallen Angel Collection - 1985
More images below