London Recap pt. 3: Contemporary Wardrobe Punk Clothes

a-label

London was a whirlwind of sight seeing, attending shows, and dancing our feet off. But it also was a research trip for my academic work on punk style. One of the best places we went was The Contemporary Wardrobe. It is run in conjunction with the Horse Hospital which is a fab gallery and event space. 

storefront

This is how they describe it:

“The Contemporary Wardrobe is a specialist hire company which supplies vintage street fashion, couture items and accessories to the Film, TV and Fashion industries. Born out of a passion for youth culture, and recognition of street fashion’s importance in our social history, the collection now exceeds fifteen thousand garments, designed between 1945 and the present day, and representing a multitude of diverse youth movements and cult fashions.”

The Wardrobe has outfitted lots of flicks including QUADROPHENIA and STONED and done tons of commercials and exhibition work. It is run by Roger Burton who has been a part of the British subcultural and fashion scenes since the 60s and is a genuinely lovely guy. I sat down with Roger for about 2 hours as he told me awesome stories and shared meaningful insights into the origins of punk fashion and its evolution.

After some great conversation over tea, we shifted gears and started looking through the collection. I took a ton of photos which Roger graciously agreed that I could share with you. I should note that this was really a great opportunity. The Museum of London had agreed to let me see some items, but they only had two ensembles available as most objects were in storage and unretrievable at this time (I didn’t keep the appointment due to scheduling conflicts). The V&A needs about six months for a researcher to be able to see collection items, and unfortunately my trip came together faster than that. I did go to their exhibition of costumes shown in their permanent collection but they only really have one punk ensemble of Westwood‘s and it’s behind glass and lit so dark it’s hard to make anything out. There are some other collections around town, but no matter who I asked, everyone kept referring me to Roger and his collection, so it was such a treat to be able to schedule a time that worked for both of us during my brief trip. Plus, his collection is hands-on, which makes a huge difference for a researcher. Being able to interact with the items is crucial to understanding them. 

Below are some of the photos. They’re unlabeled because I’m not done transcribing our discussion so my notes are yet incomplete. But I wanted to get this up on WT while it was still fresh. Most of the clothes are from Westwood/McLaren’s 70s Sex or Seditionaries lines, but some are from Acme Attractions when they started using the Westwood designs, and others are mid-80s versions made by Joe Corre (Westwood and McLaren’s son and founder of Agent Provocateur). There are one or two items that are not from those designers and were made by others around the same time periods. I took 59 photos, so of course I’m not going to post all of them, but here is a selection of my favs. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Thanx Roger and the Contemporary Wardrobe!

bondage-red

bikini

rock-bones

mohair

black-label

blazer-2

blazer

bondage-white

peter-pan

destroy

destroy-detail

save-queen

sex-label

vive-le-rock

vive-detail

weave

bondage-black

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