Clothes' is a fashion show with a difference (or three).
Russell Powell scooped the poop.
Out - 1984
'I'm going to have all my models supplied with drink and drugs
before the shows. My models are rent-boys dragged up from the gutters
of Piccadilly and a couple of them are smack addicts, so they'd
rather score than get paid for modelling.' (Leigh Bowery re the
ICA fashion show.)
'The elitist aspect of people like Leigh worries me, I don't see
anything wrong in seeing a good-looking woman modelling clothes
so long as they fit in the right places.' (Scott Crolla)
Two weeks of fashion combined with dance begins at the ICA on
October 10 -an event called 'Performing Clothes'. The ICA press
hand-out declares it to be 'A unique fashion event, bringing choreography,
clothes and music into a new marriage ... an entertaining celebration
of the current energy in young British fashion design.'
The idea of using dancers instead of the usual made-to-measure
5ft 10, 33/24/34, catwalk models, to show the clothes was first
put into practice last year in 'Talking Clothes' which heralded
the beginning of a different and refreshing approach to a fashion
show and proved to be a great success. A young designer, Michele
Clapton, was asked to select fellow designers for the show, and
she chose Sue Clowes, Richard Ostell, Willy Brown and Dexter WongClapton
(her husband!) amongst others. Although some of these designers
were pretty much established already, the exciting presentation
certainly impressed the media.
One enthusiast called it 'the most important fashion show since
the '60s' and the show, which ran for seven days, was completely
This year, Michele is included again in 'Performing Clothes',
which also contains the works of Rachel Auburn, Leigh Bowery, Scott
Crolla and Georgina Godley, Judy Blame, Elmaz Huseyin, Bic Owen
and Helen Littman. (John Richmond has also been billed, but unfortunately,
he had to pull out at the last minute because his fabric failed
to arrive from Japan in time to be made into outfits for the show.)
The designers were chosen by Michael Morris who has organised and
directed the show. Up to 50 young designers were considered before
10 were chosen on the strength of their originality and general
diversity. The only person who declined to participate in the show
is Princess Di/Steve Strange hat-maker, the four-fingered Stephen
Jones, who was overheard saying 'I'm between walking and running
with my business at the moment. When you've got clients like Gaultier,
Mugler and the Ascot ladies, I'm not sure the ICA has the right
associations.' In fact, the ICA's own view of 'right associations'
cost 'Performing Clothes' some commercial backing. Originally it
was proposed that Smirnoff would sponsor the show, but then the
vodka people insisted that Jeff Banks of Wharehouse should take
part. The ICA reckoned he wasn't hip enough and boldly kissed the
Piers Gough, an architect, was commissioned to design the set,
and a team of 12 dancers have been choreographed by 'Company of
Wolves' star, Micha Bergese. For an architect who is designing
his fist stage set, Gough certainly has a sense of humour and seems
to enjoy a free rein with visual punning. For instance, the swing
doors have been made like giant lapels and an archway through which
all the models have to make their entrance is in the form of a
giant pair of baggy trousers. He suggested that the arrival on
stage of each designer should be spectacularly arresting; one idea
for designer Leigh Bowery's grand entrance, is to tie him to a
Blame: ‘ I’ve just been making some rubber jewellery
for Duran Duran for some mini-epic video they’re doing for
the album. It was good because it meant that I could spend hundreds
of pounds in Pentonville Rubber. I’m doing a pink rubber
piece which Dave Baby is going to model – I think it goes
well with his tattoos. All my jewellery moves. –for the ICA
collection I’ll be using materials like
breeze block, grey foam-rubber , a car doormat
and coral and suede (Her
include Steve Strange, Helen Terry, Barbra Streisand)
and bring him in `like a pig on a spit'. The piece de resistance
for Piers, the last straw for Leigh!
Another interesting feature of `Performing Clothes' is that throughout
the fortnight several talks will be given by notable fashion experts
and style commentators. Amongst the speakers will be Peter York,
Brenda Polan (fashion editor of The Guardian), Lynne Franks (PR
consultant), Paul Smith (clothes designer) and Paul Morley (marketing
executive). The designers themselves also get the right to reply
and the audience are invited to ply both speakers and designers
Top of the ICA list, Rachel Auburn, has been featured regularly
in Vogue, sells to Bloomingdales in New York and is currently working
round the clock to supply a massive order from Japan. Her customers
include Brooke Shields, Farrah Fawcett and Cher and she cites 'prostitutes,
pimps, princesses and my mother' as some of her major influences.
Rachel trained at Brighton and Harrow Schools of Art and served
an apprenticeship with Jean Muir.
On her desk is an invitation to Number 10 - apparently, every year
the Government like to show their support for the fashion industry
(which is the fourth largest in Britain) and Rachel has been chosen
to witness this token gesture/lunch attended by Margaret Thatcher
and Norman Tebbit. Would she give the same reply to the Premier
if asked about her inspirations? 'Prostitutes? Well, my mother
was on the game you know. That's why I'd never be one - that's
the one thing that me and that half-caste Bruce Oldfield have in
common, we were both raised in Dr Bamardos homes.' Her part in
the ICA show is going to be called 'Modern Neuros' -'as in New
Romantics, not neurotics! It's going to be a bit punky, like where
Prince has those studs on the shoulder of his jacket mixed with
lace and velvet ... oh, have you heard the latest about Bodymap?
An American company is going to sell Bodymap throughout the States.
They've already estimated the figures at £15 million for
1985, and they're going to have two lines, one is called B-Basic
and the other is Bodymap, they'll be in all the chainstores ...
still, they've certainly changed the face of British fashion.'
the Circus DJ has just popped in and points to Rachel's Japanese
Isitan T-shirt, a one-off screen-print photo of herself
stretched across her large breasts. 'Yeah, look at it, it's so
disgusting, they've got no idea; still, at least I got £15,000
for a day and a night's work...
'I first met Michele Clapton at Cha-Cha's about three years ago,
which says it all. You might as well know that there's no-one else
in the whole show that I like or that likes me either, apart from
Michele, Leigh, and Elmaz maybe. Bic doesn't like me because the
first time I went to New York with Leigh, Bic was the star, she
was like Bodymap, she was doing the whole number. I mean nobody
knew me. Anyway, everything went wrong for her bit in the show
and her clothes came on when John Richmond's name was still up
and they got her music mixed up. When it was my turn, they rewound
the tape and it went perfectly. Well, she's never spoken to me
'I sell my clothes to this shop in LA called Comme les Garcons.
I got this message that Farrah can't wait for my new collection!
Blancmange wear my clothes but I think that film stars are much
better than pop stars, don't you? I supply the Hollywood set!'
The phone rings, it's Fatima from New York. 'Oh, I love transatlantic
conversations ...d'you know Blancmange, a group, yes? Well, one
of the boys tried to score some hash and he got licorice sticks.
You have to be careful these days...'
What does Rachel expect from her part in the 'Performing Clothes'
fortnight? 'Well, it's at the same time as Olympia and I want lots
of people to see my clothes and it's a cheap way of having a show.
I'm not doing it for any arty-farty reasons, like Leigh, but the
clothes aren't tasteless either. Look I'm not1985, I'm 1995!'
Scott Crolla “ Most talk about London is directed at the
street. Paris has been copying us for the last three years. Gaultier
has copied off us. People are like lemmings, they have no imagination,
they wait until someone like Gaultier gives them approval. I’m
not a great believer in fashion that is designed
just to shock. I like confrontational clothes
but I prefer
to beat the system
Bowery “Ill be showing my “Mincing Queens Stroke
Prince Charming” collection.
I think the IUCA’s a good place for people
to see things because it’s like a forum… I
don’t like Rachel
Auburn’s things because she copies off me,
but what motivates her is that there’s going
to be cash at the end of it: Rachel would die if
she didn’t sell her stuff…Crolla are
supposed to be the sensation of 1984. I’m
not surprised because they’re
so boring…is Bic Owen still around? I thought
had a car crash, maybe she ought to and then she
could have plastic surgery and come back as another
person…I feel that John
Richmond’s clothes are too polite, too frightend
to offend although they’re quite well made…Helen
Littman is dreadful, you couldn’t believe
how awful she is. She thinks she knows what’s
going on, but her fluorescent stuff was so naff.
Still there’s a lot of naff girls
out there with money.”