Clearing out our attic recently, in preparation for building work, found me rifling through old diaries from when I was 16, (oh the angst, the innocence and the constant lying to my parents!!), reading piles of old letters (no-one does that anymore), sorting through old photographs and piles and piles of old magazines. Middleagedad and I are not a good combination when it comes to clearing out clutter. We both love collecting things and our obsessions have accumulated over the years. Beer mats, bottle tops, foreign beer bottles (do you sense a theme here?), snow globes, salt and pepper pots, vases, printing trays, old leather suitcases, cake stands and of course my latest ‘must have’, pottery swans: If we ever tire of our jobs, we can always open up the house as a museum.
All weekend I was immersed in a trip down Memory Lane, up Old Times Hill and back down to, Those Were the Days Avenue. Sifting through my old college portfolio, I came across some old Student Union cards. The Banaramesque/Siouxsie Sioux, hairstyle in the above pic, instantly took me back to what I was wearing at that time. Small pointy pixie boots, fish net tights, a huge fluorescent or victorian petticoat, hanging down from a dirndl skirt, an old hand knitted, bright yellow cardigan worn back to front, feather earings and massive back combed hair, complete with bits of raggy fabric tied round my head. Amazing, I can’t remember what I went into the living room for, but can remember every detail of the outfit I wore, to go and see the Slits! To be honest, it wasn’t a great look, but it was a look and it marked the beginning of expressing myself through my clothes.
Moving away from home was liberating and meant you could re-invent yourself and escape the constraints of parents and having to ‘fit in’ with your peers. Being a fashion student in the 80’s was all about experimentation and making your own clothes. On a Friday afternoon the studio would be full of girls fighting for the overlocker, to run themselves up an outfit for the weekend. Bodymap was the best thing that ever happened to us. We’d buy a roll of jersey from Leicester market on Tuesday and by Friday it would be an entire outfit, a la ‘The Cat in the Hat takes a Rumble with the Techno Fish.’
For three years we strutted around the Student Union in all sorts of ridiculous get ups and loved it. We no longer cared what ‘normal’ people thought. We were out to impress others from our tribe. It was all about music, underground designers, clubs that no-one else had discovered and making it up as we went along. We were having our fashion Nirvana, it wasn’t going to get any better than this. But of course we didn’t realise it at the time. Why would we? We were too busy living it.
Of course I carried on loving clothes and experimenting and being part of many more tribes. Lets not even go there with the Madchester and Rave scenes! But as I started working and became more and more involved in having a career, I lost the feeling of being right there, in the thick of it, mainly because I had to get up in the morning!!
Like many other things, maybe you don’t realise how great they are, till they’ve gone. But there are always the pictures to remind us.