Contemporary Wardrobe, thirty years of street style

It’s not often you find out about events like Thursday’s talk at the Horse Hospital. Luckily for me I read about it on Style Bubble just in the nick of time and got my ticket request in fast. Alas, not fast enough as the next day an email pinged back saying the event was massively oversubscribed and entry wasn’t guaranteed, but to turn up anyway and they’d try to accomodate everyone. We arrived with time to spare which was good as it afforded us a nice fashion show in the form of the arriving punters. Having expected a pride of pushy fashion students and a few Hoxton hipsters I was happy to see a majority of veteran London dandies and friendly faces from the last forty years of fashion and clubbing. We had quite a lot of fun playing ‘guess who he is’ until the doors opened and we were all ushered in.

The Contemporary Wardrobe collection at the Horse Hospital in Russell Square is celebrating its thirtieth year as London’s quite astonishing fashion and street-style archive. The event consisted of a very cool fashion show, rare footage of a Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood interview together from 1993 and a talk between journalist Paul Gorman and Contemporary Wardrobe’s owner Roger K Burton. We heard about Burton’s adventures in fashion from his early mod days growing up in the Midlands to outfitting the cast and 300 extras from Quadrophenia to designing Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End shop.

After the talk, there were drinks and chat as well as lots of photo-taking of the exhibited skinhead, punk, hippie and rocker outfits. I managed to buttonhole Paul Gorman who gave me the lowdown on the assembled fashion faces who included Mr and Mrs Terry de Havilland, Top Man design director Gordon Richardson (how dapper is this man, Phillip Green, please take some styling tips from him!), Soho suitmaker Mark Powell, Max Karie from Shop at Maison Bertaux and Marian Buckley from FUK.

A word about Paul Gorman. If you’re interested in the history of music-influenced street style, I highly recommend his book The Look, Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion, featuring never-seen-before (by me anyway) photos and insightful interviews with key fashion players. Check out his blog here.