From Club To Catwalk
From Fetish to New Romantic to Goth, London’s explosive Eighties nightclub scene gave rise to some of the most experimental - and influential - fashion movements of the decade. A new exhibition at the city’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s, traces the link between club culture and high-fashion.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Boy George, eyelinered and extravagant, was the cloakroom boy and other ‘Blitz kids’ included John Galliano, Isabella Blow and Stephen Jones: this was the birth of the New Romantic movement. Steve Strange and Rusty Egan opened the Covent Garden club in 1979 and those who managed to navigate the strict entry policy danced to the sounds of Spandau Ballet, David Bowie and Roxy Music.
Initially focused on New Wave and Glam Rock, Batcave style soon morphed into Goth. Visitors entered the club through a coffin and, once inside, could watch late-night horror films and read Victorian gothic fiction. The club was opened in 1982 by Jon Klein and Olli Wisdom, of the British post-punk band Specimen, and was frequented by Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith and Nick Cave.
Wigs, ballgowns and near-nudity were the look of choice at this club night, which was launched in 1984 by couple-about-town Michael and Gerlinde Costiff, above. It was hosted by different West End venues from Café de Paris to the Empire Ballroom but, wherever its location, with regulars such as Boy George, Leigh Bowery and Sheila Tequila, Kinky Gerlinky was guaranteed to be a night of debauchery.
Soho legend Leigh Bowery founded the Taboo disco club night in 1985, with its famously anti-fashion entrance policy: ‘Dress as though your life depends on it or don’t bother.’ Those lucky clubbers whose painted faces and leather and latex creations were outrageous enough to get them through the door were treated to Jeffrey Hinton on the decks - and Boy George and Adam Ant on the dancefloor.