80s Fashion @ V&A

Having been born in the 90’s, I took my mother with me as a guide to the 80’s themed fashion exhibition which is currently on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. At the time it seemed like a good idea. When we got in however, she informed me that she was more of a 70’s girl.

The exhibition itself is spread across two floors, not dissimilar to the ball gowns display earlier this year. Whilst this set up may be appealing to some, neither floor is particularly large and it seems as though it serves as an illusion to make the show appear bigger. The higher tier in particular, only displaying one or two garments. In comparison to the faultless fashion exhibitions which used to be on display in the gallery when I was in my teens, the modern efforts of the V&A leave much to be desired.

That said, the exhibition does give a multi-faceted view into fashion from the 1980s and an insight into the lives, particularly the social lives, of the people who wore it. We are shown music videos as well as catwalk shows of youths in streetwear which is not too dissimilar to the clothes youngsters are still wearing today.

The 80’s saw the creation of i-D magazine and multiple different fashion ‘tribes’ from goths to new romantics. The stuffiness of Vogue was out and more comfortable clothes were in, the more outrageous the better! This was the age of Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and the birth of Boy London.

This exhibition is a mesh of colour, music and excess. It may not be the best fashion exhibition the V&A has staged but it isn’t without merit and is worth a visit.

Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s is on display at Victoria and Albert Museum until 16th February 2014

twitter: @lizzycollier
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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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