Tuesday, February 8

Fashion - Turn to the left

To discover the origins of the New Romantics, turn to the left and see David Bowie. Appreciate his flamboyant attire and chant the lyrics to "Fashion" like an original 80's Blitz Kid
Now turn to the right and see the punks. Hurl back their anarchic rage, vulgar clothes that wreak of aggression  and a musty, unwashed aroma.

Despite the rebellion against rage and anti-fashion, the New Romantics subconsciously channel some very punk rock attitudes when it comes to dress : theyre exhibitionist, they have a burning impulse to go against the grain, and most importantly they relish in shock. They dress to appal. Actually theyre just well evolved peacocks.

I absolutely J'adore the androgyny and flamboyant narcissism that runs through every stitch of the foppish, dandy ruffles of their regency inspired shirts and perfectly arched eyebrows. There was satire behind the glamour, every outfit was a costume and each night out in Blitz, Camden Palais and Heaven was a character performance. 

Heres a tale to amuse...
in 1982 Steve Strange (in an unrivalled bid for attention and shameless PR for Visage) dragged 6 of the most exciting new British designers, including Anthony Price and Melissa Caplin, to Paris to put on a risque show... 

....a week after the Paris Couture shows closed
to "showcase the superior talent"?
or just to piss them off?

After being heckelled and taunted for being "too flash to show in here" he just did it anyway, 
""It’ll be as much as we can do to give Paris a quick flash and hope we don’t get arrested""
The show was an amazing success and invaluable to the progression of contemporary fashion, Launching the New Romantics further into iconography . 

The gods of New Romantic fashion included Viv westwood and Stevie Stewart who inspired the subculture but were also inspired by them to make iconic designs, such as Westwood's AmAzing pirate collection. I Saw this at her V&A exhibition about a million years ago now the image of it has never left me.  Dandified Regency dress and native american inspiration combine to create amazing exotic flamboyancy and were groundbreaking in sillhouette for the 20th century :
"Pirate trousers had a baggy bum, complete contrast to hippy hipsters and tight arse".. Beautiful words from Dame Westwood there. 

Stevie Stewart's marvellous creations

The fashion led the movement, but the music soon followed...
We owe a lot to synthesisers for New Romantic Music
We also owe a lot, again, to Steve Strange
And The Blitz Club

Iconic bands start with Culture Club, travel through Visage, Spandeau Ballet, Kadjagoogoo, throw a hair flick towards Duran Duran (wild boys!) and end up somewhere around Adam Ant and THAT dance move.
The mood was always  atmospheric and brooding with an amazing mix of progressive
electro and rather primitive rhythms. I think the music shows the depth to New Romanticism, trying to capture the same power and emotion  that the Millais did with their Ophelia, or what Emily Bronte did with Heathcliffe. A lot of the music has a suspicious element of Cheese but, like with their fashion, the music has clearly and unmistakeably defined what we listen to today

Now please excuse me while I perform Karma Chameleon to my webcam

The New Romantics through the eyes of a Responsible Father

An interview with the father - an observer and dabbler of the New Romantic Subculture (and a man with tremendous hair)

After much bullying, persuasion and a hint of blackmail i managed to coax this nightmare interview out of my wary and reluctant Dad. 
He had no confidence in his ability to comment on anything remotely fashion related but i think we were both suprised on what we knew and found out
Now then, eyes down, we commence.

Me: Evening
Dad: Evening. I only have ten minutes of dog walking time so hurry up

   a nice way to set the tone of the interview, you know, accommodating...

M: ok then here we go with serious interview time. So HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NEW ROMANTIC STYLE
D: (with a groan of dread) ohh well the think that stood out the most was the idea of shock. Yes they dressed completely to shock.

M: so it was all about reactions?
D: Oh absolutely. It was like a continuation from punk but without all the anarchy. Men wre really heavy make up and dressed femininely and really overly glamorous! They often were really daring and expised quite a bit!
M: oooh la!
D: oh I know. So 80's. I think the word we're looking for it theatrical. THere was a LOT of hair involved. Hair was a big deal.

At this point I bored him with the history of Vivienne Westwood and her pirate fetish. 

D: so next question...

D: definately to appear as indviduals. Creative artistic individuals.  They wanted to totally shock and horrify but after punk people were used to shock so it was really in vain. So they really concentrated on FASHION and wore beautiful, amazing clothes and spent a lot of time preening.
M: did you preen?
D: i dabbled. 
M: with mascara??
D: hmmm ...
D: I guess it was a natural progression of how music evolved. Punk was a revolutionary movement and the New Romantic/New Wave/ Electro music was a backlash against punk. From What I remember The whole sbculture emerged from nightclubs like the Blitz Club, Heaven and Camden Palais. 

Stops to reminice of how "cool" he was in his youth for going to these places...

It started as a very extreme and very select culture. It was a really small night time scene and a big gay scene. It was mainly gay at the start because they were still sort of underground. I mean if you listen to Culture Clubs music all the songs are about Boy Georges relationship with his drummer but NO-ONE knew about it at the time! I went to school with him and no-one even knew he was gay for years!
M: oh, how sad for him!
D: So Steve Strange played a huge role in it as well as i think he owned the Blitz club and Heaven and then opened Camden Palais. Then all the bands came through like Spandeau Ballet . They actually played theyre first gig on HMS Belfast!

M: Ohh how original! anyway pressing on... DESCRIBE THE NIGHTLIFE AND MUSIC
D: well we've talked about the music, and youve got ears so you can listen.
M: Brilliant
D: But there was a very heavy drug scene which isnt really talked about, not like the 60's or the 90's! Stuff like hash , speed, qualoods, ammal nitrate.
M: que? 
D: stuff you find under your kitchen sink really
M: oh like gloryfied poppers. Hardcore

Lecturing my Dad on drug misuse in his youth was a bizarre part of my life

D: No, they weren't reall a political group, it was more about the nightlife and the fashion and self expression
M: But didnt they have to stay underground to hide their sexuality? Wouldn't you say that's social opression?
D: Oh, i suppose. Yes because they had to form their own culture in order to be accepted. Well done for that
M: Thank you 
D: Well I used to party a lot with Boy George. There was never a dull moment then, he was mental.
D: Ok well there was about 30 of us on the tube going to a party in central London and this bloke asked Boy George if his hair was all orange. He shouted yes and showed the evidence by whipping down his trousers and flashing his...area. And back then things like that were NEVER done. It was outrageous.
M: Ohh wow. Well Thank you for lowering the tone of my interview. And for the mental image. 

 some very childish sniggering ...

Tuesday, February 1


A Jeremy Deller-esque tribute to the undeniable relationship between Chavs and Sloanes. I can see a beautiful union occuring

I like it when Emma is a Punk

Tartan trousers make a massive punk statement. It is an iconic print connected with the Sex Pistols and instantly conjoures images of punk culture. Studded leather and bold zips and buckles on  the leather jacket convey the passionate aggression that fueled the punks.
Punks would have ripped, torn, spray painted, safety pinned, burned the garments -anything to create shock factor and express their rage!

So it was supremely difficult to conjure images of the generic "hippy" without re-imagining Forrest Gump's Jennay's intense relationship with her guitar and his brush with racism. 
So here is my interpretation: raggedy unwashed knitwear teamed with overtly floral hareems that bring only pure thoughts to the mind. And Emma did feel at one with nature.