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Club to Catwalk Exhibition

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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London Fashion in the 1980s

Some of the outfits I've seen people wear, I would not be caught dead in, but had I lived in the 1980s, then it probably means that I never would have left the house. I like subtlety, to go unnoticed, and to be ignored, but in the 1980s, although there were many different styles, there was one thing they all had in common: they were loud.

Bright colours, bold statements, big hair. Fashion in the 1980s was designed to to make you stand out from the crowd. Television was a major influence, especially with American shows such as Miami Vice and Magnum P.I., which respectively increased sales of pastel coloured suits and Hawaiian t-shirts in middle aged men. Younger men tried out a 'New Romantic Style': loose open shirts and black eyeliner made them look like a cross between a goth and steampunk pirate.

Middle aged women went for 'Power House' outfits, most notably worn by Margaret Thatcher, whose shoulder padded jackets gave her an air of authority and sent a message that said 'don't mess with me'. Young women looking to keep fit turned into 'Valley Girls': leotards, spandex, headbands, and leg warmers suggested that they were on a permanent gym crawl.

But what about London in the 1980s? What was fashion like in the capital city? Club to Catwalk is an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum that runs until the 16th February, and showcases over eighty-five outfits by young designers from the 1980s, including Betty Jackson, Katharine Hamnett, Wendy Dagworthy, and John Galliano. The designs are experimental, daring, eccentric, and created a fusion between catwalk fashion and London's club scene. Theatrical costumes that would once only have been seen on stage were now becoming dramatic statement pieces for the high street.

Tickets to the exhibition are 6.70 for adults and 5.70 for children; there are also special events that can be booked, such as tours, talks, and workshops.
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Why? Relive decades past
When: Until 16th Feb 2014
Phone: 44 (0)20 7942 2000
Where: Victoria & Albert Museum
Cost: 6.70 adult, 5.70 child
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