Oh So Disco

Oh So Disco

If ever there was a time and place in history worth revisiting  it’s got to be  New York city circa mid to late seventies. Studio 54 to be precise.  Home to 700 plus exclusive partygoers  who every night celebrated glamour, decadence and excess. Never before or since has night clubbing looked so good.

Bianca Jagger dancing at Studio 54

Disco anthems sang of shallow partying that went on for days and resumed without question the following evening. How fabulous it must have been for those involved,  dressing up like their lives depended on it and then parading and sharing the splendour in nights of  high-spirited heady fun.

The disco scene’s energising and seductive marriage  of  New York’s art, music and fashion worlds resulted in an iconic  aesthetic of ice cool glamour epitomised in the portraits of photographer Ron Galella.

Dance and fashion fused with the celebrity and art worlds under the refracted lights of glass globes. The door policy is legendary. Beauty, success and celebrity would not always guarantee you entry but it definitely upped your chances. The global and lasting  impact of the club lay in its carefully calculated mix of revellers. An amazon of  ’70s supermodels including all American golden girl Lauren Hutton, Texan Jerry Hall and ill fated beauty Gia, shook their booty alongside  rock icons and artists.  The occasional unknown and oddballs  added intrigue.

Studio 54 was built on nothing if not self belief.  Promoter Steve Rubell and club goers alike embraced the American ideals of thinking big and making a splash. Flamboyance was in vogue, resulting in moments of celluloid history such as  Bianca Jagger riding  into the famous nightclub astride a white horse.  Budgets and self promotion were unhindered allowing for some colossal ego expansion.

Bianca Jagger making an entrance on a white horse

The bold and the beautiful spun and shimmied in show stopping Halston’ and  Ozzie Clark creations.  Halston created minimal designs in luxurious modern fabrics. Cut was everything.  Exquisite draped jersey halter dresses and pant suits allowed the wearers freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Love beads  and flower power were out and affluence and prestige were in.  Think lustre, think legs and think long, long nights.  It was a Bacchanalian era where looking good and feeling good where all that mattered and at the former they succeeded without question.  The international  lifestyle of the club’s jet setting elite was reflected in exotic fashion accents  like Afghan jackets, turbans and the kaftan. The minimalism and simplicity of the form fitting gowns were also offset by bold accessories and outrageous behaviour.

Halston, Bianca, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol at Studio 54

“In every corner you’d see somebody you read about in a paper or a friend or Beautiful People or mad people. Major, major stars. All the social people. You had a blend of society that had never happened before. It was like a movie.” Halston said of the era.

‘The Studio’ as it became known has been richly  documented in several films. Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale donned bored expressions and glitter eye shadow for the  sardonic period piece Last Days of Disco.  54, directed by Mark Christopher, covered the lives of the scene’s  key figures. Controversial auteur Spike Lee  gave us his take in Summer of Sam, a strange film that set a serial killer plot line against the backdrop of disco hungry hedonists.

Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale in the Last Days of Disco (1998)

Designers and high street stores are all plundering the seventies this summer and disco’s glamourous influence  is there too, seducing us  back onto the dance floors  in billowing voluminous  flowing maxi dresses,  white tuxedo jackets, funky jumpsuits  and ultra high strappy sandals.  Today, with  the climate of  austerity measures and economic uncertainty, a philosophy of dressing to the nines, dancing  till you drop, eschewing all and anything mundane and the inevitable understanding: same thing, same time tomorrow, seems worth considering.

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Night clubbing with a difference.

Sadly I haven’t posted in a shockingly long time. Gasp! My poor sad little Mac has been through the wars but under my watchful eye it is still miraculously holding up. I myself have been busy elsewhere doing many exciting projects including styling a shoot in a boxing club in North London. It was a delight and a thrill to work with such an incredible team of young professionals. It was particularly exhilarating as the shoot took place during a training session making for a highly adrenalised and energetic production. I also have had the pleasure of doing a shoot with the exceptionally creative and lovely Mrs Jones. A fun afternoon was had in the squat/studio in Hackney  and the extraordinary creations were modelled by some truly beautiful human creatures resulting in artistic fashion anarchy. It was a theatrical spectacular and the well deserved picnic on the mattress was a most fortifying denouement. Keeping up with Mrs Jones has all the evidence.

Here is a just little taster…

A nicely ordered rail before the creative mayhem got underway.  Super poodle Betty strutting about  the background.

Elsewhere my masterful fascinator skills were put to good use at a hip event in the East End. A sort of night clubbing meets after school activity party where revellers are invited to customise their very own festival headpiece . The heady blend of cocktails and creativity unleashed an outrage of untapped millinery talent. It was quite an experience to watch as the inspired worked furiously at tables topped with fuzzy felt and feathers out doing each other in the quest for head band history. The shameless and satisfied artists then gathered on the dance floor show in a show case of unbridled exhibitionism to some dancelicious tunes.Fun fun and then some.


The Undisputed Winner of the evening. Half man half wildebeest. 100% hilarious awesomeness.

Exhibit A

Future Beauty, 30 Years of Japanese Fashion opened yesterday at The Barbican Centre. Having nothing better or more glamorous to do myself and my friend Fan went down to check it out. We spent nearly three hours marveling at the exquisite and sometimes incredible works on display. The show comprises two whole floors of white on white rooms. The first thing to strike me was the attendees. Mostly fashion students I am sure, young, hip and dressed with so much style that they demanded as much attention as the exhibits themselves. An atmosphere of awe and reverence encapsulated the show. It is twenty years since I was last at The Barbican but I don’t remember it being so hushed and church-like.

On the first floor a series of mannequins are displayed in an open plan room which is gently divided up by curtains of sheer white fabric. All the mannequins are without hair or extra embellishment which serves to highlight the extraordinary creations by designers like
Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. Particularly striking to me were the honey-combed constructions of polyester organza by Junya Watanabe pictured. 

Red polyester organza honeycomb ruff.

 

We rested awhile and watched some amazing films featuring catwalk shows, interviews and working methods of Miyake, Kawakubo and Yamamoto. What pleased me the most was the kaleidoscopic explosion of joy in Miyake’s featured show. Smiling animated models pouring freely onto an open platform in blocks of  bright neon had me laughing with delight. Superhuman dancers illustrated perfectly the truly remarkable qualities of his exceptional designs.

Upstairs the exhibits are arranged in separate white rooms around two atriums that somehow don’t seem like atriums. To me it felt like we had traversed in  a straight line? Perhaps this is deliberate on the curator’s part. Like the origami designs by Miyake, the building itself folds out differently in experience to its physical configuration. Here we see  a more colourful and playful display introducing the newer younger generation of designers like Mintdesigns, Undercover by Jun Takahashi plus an example of the world famous street style from Tokyo’s Harajuku district.

Fan described it as an inspirational day out and it was.