Club to Catwalk at the V&A

VandA1editA night out at the V&A to raise a glass for my best mate’s birthday, take a trip down memory lane at the Club to Catwalk show, and do a spot of dressing up in vintage 80s fashion. Perfect!

My best mate Mel and sister Tania both turned up in their John Crancher skirts. I had intended to wear my black John Crancher shirt, decorated with the same distinctive print of generously-endowed dancing devils in gold, but after two forays into the loft couldn’t find it. Instead, I opted for my skull shirt from Artificial Eye, an infamous label in the long-gone but still missed Kensington Market.

L’Anarchie, John Crancher’s shop was also in Kenny Market, and although none of us could remember much about the shop itself, apart from the fabulous clothing, we did remember where it was (ground floor on the left hand side).

The show had some interesting exhibits, especially the section upstairs with its Body Map, Rifat Ozbek, Pam Hogg, Vivienne Westwood designs and outfits worn by Adam Ant and Toyah. As an old Goth I found the ‘Gothic’ section a bit staid and sanitised, and the exhibition as a whole felt too static, despite the excellent video montages and soundtrack. It didn’t achieve the edginess, experimentation and exuberance of that time,which the recent ICA Subcultures show had in buckets but it does have the actual clothes!

Unlike the ICA show the V&A were strictly enforcing their policy of no photography, or even sketching of the show. Understandable – you will have to go to see what I am talking about, and as I didn’t take a notebook I can’t rattle off a comprehensive list of designers.

The sign of a good show is that your expectations are confounded in some way, and what the three of us had forgotten, apart from the stereotype of legwarmers and day glo etc (yawn) is that there were a lot of BAD CLOTHES in the 80s- terrible jumpers, ruched shiny cocktail dresses, overblown detailing and questionable tailoring. We had a good laugh about the reality…it’s amazing what the memory filters out.

If you went to Kensington Market, then crossed the road to window shop in Hyper Hyper, or hung out in the Great Gear Market, this show will interest and delight you. Also- I’d never experienced the V&A on a Friday evening and would recommend it- the atmosphere in the museum was great, and the addition of a bar and dj definitely helped!

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