Books

The culture of fashion: Go to the Nightclub with silk shirts on



Ibiza 89 book by Dave Swindells

As Ibiza season kicks in, I’m reposting my article for Faith Fanzine that was originally published in print last summer. It seems the heady, hedonistic days of 80s rave and club culture are never far from a fashion designer’s moodboard. As photographer and former Time Out clubs editor Dave Swindells celebrates his fourth print run of photobook, IBIZA 89 (above), we mused on what the scene symbolised and why it’s an eternal source of style inspo

Lairy Day-Glo tops, psychedelic-print long-sleeve tees, G-Force lookalike handknits on whirling dervish dancers and bob-haired boys in supersize silk shirts and baggy pants. No, not your good self tripping out at Spectrum circa 1988, but a sampling of the post-lockdown menswear collections shown two years ago. By some unspoken agreement, a number of major designers – from Loewe to Dries van Noten – had tapped into a collective yearning for the close contact sport, joyful hedonism and unbridled spiritual gathering of The Club.

Then earlier this year, the nostalgia was ramped up with couturiers and menswear designers worshipping at the altar of house, Ballroom and 80s club culture. Most dramatic by far was Valentino’s mash-up of 80s old money couture with the decadence of Soho nightlife. As Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli put it, “the glamour of the stripes, the polka dots, the ruffles, the most classical signs of haute couture, but re-signified in a different way with a different kind of balance. Leigh Bowery meets Mr Valentino.”
Loewe menswear SS22 by David Sims
Valentino couture 2023 inspired by Leigh Bowery

Fast-forward to Florence a few weeks later and as a guest designer of Pitti Uomo, Martine Rose would have yet another take on the eternal co-dependence of fashion and the dance floor. Her AW23 show was a raw, personal take on the intimacy of club life accompanied by Italo-London street casting and an Italian proto house soundtrack (Stop Bajon by Tullio De Piscopo being a highlight).

Modelled on a diverse array of ‘real people’, the collection reflected her own history of clubbing and people-watching – from Rage to Plastic People. In particular, the unique London look of dressed-down dressed-upness – fringed tracksuits, satin shirts, MA1 bombers and bumster jeans – summed up by Rose as “some cheekiness, a bit of sex, a bit of fun.”

Martine Rose AW23

It got me wondering…why are fashion designers so hung up on club culture – especially 80s and 90s scenes? And why now? Dave Swindells, one of Britain’s foremost nightlife photographers, suggests it’s less the outfits that are the inspiration as the spirit they represent. “Taboo was the apogee moment in the 80s because it was run by a fashion designer [Leigh Bowery], and his fashion designer mates. Jean-Paul Gaultier was there week after week and John Galliano went all the time. Michael Clark was there and modelling for BodyMap. Rachel Auburn the DJ was also a designer,” he says. “There were so many other people who were part of the scene. It wasn’t just one designer; it was a whole network.” Two decades later he saw history repeated at Nag Nag Nag and Kashpoint, where a new generation of designers, stylists and multi-hyphenates would congregate and co-create as part of the club ecosystem.

The cross-pollination of creativity is something that we don’t see IRL in clubs as much in the 2020s. But the idea of this creative melting pot is just as seductive to today’s youthful clubber as it was back in the day. Swindells gets this impression from the reactions to his photobook IBIZA 89 (recently updated and reprinted for the fourth time). “It’s not so much the clothes as the sense of, ‘oh I wish I’d been born then, that’s what I would have really wanted.’ It’s the culture more than the clothes.”

There’s a marked difference between designers who reference a somewhat generic idea of ‘club culture’ and those reporting from the trenches, so to speak. The likes of Martine Rose, Raf Simons and Kim Jones as clubbers themselves enjoy mining much more specific and niche fashion details particular to their own clubbing proclivities. It explains the dedication to those designers by their fans who appreciate the genuine interest in subcultures. It also speaks to the inclusive-exclusive tension that fashion and clubs have in common. That sense of wanting to be part of a scene – but not if everybody’s name is on the list.

Raf Simons is a designer for whom clubs and music are integral to his world. For his final collection last November, he swapped the usual fashionista guest list for fashion students and young fans at a rave-like show staged at Printworks. It was a nod to his early shows when he would scout models at Belgian clubs, then bus them from Antwerp to his Paris catwalk.

Martine Rose has said her greatest inspiration was her time working in London’s bars and clubs studying the regulars and randoms as if they were characters in costume. “All of those people who I met – I can’t even tell you how they’ve informed my design work. These characters I recall, and these moments and nights, they somehow get mixed up in my head and vomited out for the collection,” she told System magazine. “I miss working in bars, actually. It was much more than just part-time work to me.” Perhaps it’s also a reminder of her much younger self watching her older sister dressing up in Jean-Paul Gaultier and Pam Hogg, longing for her turn. “I just couldn’t wait to get into that nocturnal world and clothes were a part of it.”

Dreaming of the otherworld of nightlife from afar seems to be a universal rite of passage in this story. Brand consultant Mandi Lennard is another who felt the call of The Club from beyond the bedroom walls. “I would lie on my bed dreaming I was in Judy Blame’s world that emanated from the pages of i-D, a fascinating fantasyland of imagination and collision of ideas and creators,” she recalls. While today’s young Mandi or Martine equivalent may never even set foot in a club, cosplaying the look can be a means of accessing the experience by proxy through the medium of clothes. “Some may try to achieve this [access] without actually tasting a ’scene’,” says Lennard, who in her days as fashion PR royalty presided over her fair share of velvet ropes. “But immersing yourself in the confluence of people, people with opinions, the soundtrack of the time, emerging ideas, challenging ideas, tastes, rules, anarchic disregard – this is the percolator within which a movement or culture is borne, underpinned by authenticity.”

The recent emphasis on rave as the subcultural obsession du jour is easy to understand if we look at the context. Not only is it easy enough to replicate – bucket hats, long sleeve tees and bum bags are a no-brainer to produce – but it’s come to symbolise the freedom and tactile connection we all craved during 2020 and 2021.

Dries van Noten perhaps nailed it best with his baggy shorts and shirts printed with photomontages of Belgian nightscapes and strobe-lit clubs. “[It’s] clothes to go and have fun in. Just enjoy things. Go to the night club with silk shirts on,” said van Noten at his SS22 show. Soundtracked by Primal Scream’s Loaded, with its Peter Fonda sample (“we wanna be free…!”), the collection evoked the hedonic emotion of decades of dance floors; the close contact, pheromones, anticipation, sex, drugs, cigarettes and sweat.
Dries Van Noten Menswear ss23

Post-pandemic euphoria aside, there’s another reason why rave culture continues to resonate beyond the confines of the club. In an era of tech-induced dystopia and societal divisions, there’s a nostalgia for a culture that doesn’t exist in the same way today. With the most innocent of protests being outlawed, raving represents escapism and a metaphorical sanctuary where all humanity is welcome.

DJ and producer Honey Dijon (so dedicated to the cause she even has her own house-homage fashion line, Honey Fucking Dijon), harks backs to the early days of clubs as an inclusive space for LGBQT minorities. Speaking in the Faith Spring 2021 issue, she underlined the importance of dressing up not only to show off but to show up. “These were safe places to be gay and to dance with each other and to celebrate the music and the language and the dress codes,” she said. For her, pre-internet clubbing was not simply a social pleasure but a necessity. “You had to go out to meet your partners. You had to go out to experience music. You had to go out to learn how to be an artist and collaborate with people. You had to be part of culture in order to participate in it.”

For Mandi Lennard, there’s no doubt that dressing up for the club can be a radical act, even in our so-called progressive society. “Dressing as who you really are may not translate to the pavement in daylight that will take you to your heady after-dark destination of clubland. But once you arrive, you can flourish and breathe, almost becoming the most extra version of yourself.”

Fashion has always been part of culture. By referencing rave and club culture, today’s designers are re-engaging with a moment in history, retelling the story through clothes and shows, while at the same time telling us something about where we are now.

One key change to today’s dance floor is the lack of regular nightclub photographers, particularly those like Swindells who served as unofficial gatekeepers. In his case, not only did he choose whose antics to document, he also chose which images made it onto the page. As Time Out clubs editor for 23 years, his chronicles would influence a generation of wannabe club kids perusing the listings.

Boy George by Dave Swindells Ibiza 89 book

“It was fantastic to photograph the people who went to Blitz or Kinky Gerlinky, because they had made such an effort to dress up that it’s almost like payback time when photographers come along and record what they’ve done. And it’s such a joy,” says Swindells. Of course, today everyone’s phone is their own private photographer and social media is their own personal magazine. We can control our own image – although it can also be a distraction tool. “Inevitably, without phones [pre-internet] nightlife becomes a very different experience, because you have to get involved or get bored, or leave!” Swindells points out. “That’s one of the funny things about looking at pictures taken in Ibiza of two girls watching the dance floor. They’re not checking what’s on YouTube and all that crap like you can do now.”

Audience participation is perhaps the fundamental difference between nightclubs and other cultural pastimes. Art, theatre and film can be solitary pursuits, but clubbing is nothing without the punters’ active group participation. And that’s where dressing up is part of the experience. Whether peacocking in the latest Loewe or staying low key in Japanese streetwear garms, exchanging non-verbal style cues is a crucial part of the clubgoer’s love language.

“Nightlife is about expression and freedom when it works best. That freedom is something the fashion designers are going to celebrate too,” concludes Swindells. “Plus, the fact that one of the places that people go and show off what they’ve bought is the nightclub. Because clubs are the place of expression and performance, there’s always a connection with fashion and style.”

Buy IBIZA 89 at Idea Books here.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: IBIZA 89; Loewe menswear SS22 by David Sims; Valentino couture 2023; Martine Rose AW23; Dries van Noten menswear SS23; Boy George by Dave Swindells/IBIZA 89
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
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Quote of the day: Carol Cooper



The Freaks Came out to Write

“The first person to ever write about Spike Lee in the paper was me. Spike cold-called me at The Voice one day….It was his school project. It was genius. I loved it….Chris Blackwell read what I wrote and got in touch with him and ended up funding She’s Gotta Have It.”
Carol Cooper, The Freaks Came Out to Write* via The Honest Broker

This recently published oral history of The Village Voice * by Tricia Romano looks like a cracking read and ticks my oral history bingo card nicely – 1970s, counterculture, New York – full house! Ted Gioia gives a small taster in his newsletter, The Honest Broker which talks about the death of counterculture publishing.

Instantly added to the want list…

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGE: The Freaks Came out to Write by Tricia Romano
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
CLICK HERE to buy my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare



Shane Taylor: people-watching with a camera



Shane Taylor - Ritz Piccadilly

A few years ago, I started following Shane Taylor (aka @heroesforsale) on Instagram. His street photography focusing mostly on a pocket of Mayfair caught my attention; his captured gestures and poetic moments a nod to mid-century greats like Saul Leiter and Garry Winogrand. Originally from Tipperary, he arrived in London in 2019, immersing himself in the people-watching potential of its diverse inhabitants. Building an Instagram following, he branched out into Framelines, a YouTube channel, printed magazine and Patreon community with his co-pilot Josh Edgoose. And now he has co-curated the Street Life exhibition at David Hill Gallery in West London, showcasing the work of 18 photographers, including Larry Fink, Harold Feinstein and Greg Girard, as well as his own photography. I sat down with him – in my fave corner of Mayfair of course – to discuss street photography etiquette, community-building and the poetry of London life.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
I’m from Tipperary, which is right in the middle of Ireland. It’s like the Texas of Ireland; it’s very flat land, very rural. I’m from a small town of 400 people.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO STREET PHOTOGRAPHY?
I was studying design as a mature student in Dublin. As part of the course, we had a module in photography. For the first six months, our tutor never showed up because he was having some kind of pay dispute with the college, so I spent most of that time in the library. It was a really great library with loads of photobooks by people like William Eggleston, Garry Winogrand and Elliot Erwitt. And then I realised there was this thing called ‘street photography’, where you didn’t need models, you didn’t need production, you didn’t need a big team behind you. It was just a way of expressing yourself through photography, on a very low budget. All you needed was a camera and a pair of shoes.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO CAPTURE IN AN IMAGE?
That is an interesting question because I don’t think anyone that really does photography knows what they’re looking for. Maybe a sense of human connection. Or it can be like, I’m sure you have moments from a favourite movie, or a favourite song that make you feel a certain way; that describe what it is about those movies or songs that makes you feel a connection to the person that has that perspective. So, if I can make a photograph where someone else sees that photo and imagines themselves in my shoes and can feel some empathy towards the person I’m photographing, I think that’s what I’m looking for. But it’s something I think about every day. All the time.
Shane Taylor St Martin's Lane
Shane Taylor Heroes for Sale 1Shane Taylor Heroes for Sale

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY?
I think there’s a relationship between poetry and the aspects of photography that I like. It’s almost like photographing the interior life of a person that’s out in public, amongst millions of people in one of the biggest cities in the world. Especially being able to capture that somewhere like the Underground, where you can focus on maybe two people interacting, or the way a person is reading a book or doing a crossword. Just whatever interior moments they’re having and being able to photograph it in a way where it’s relatable. I don’t think that much when I’m taking a picture. I just feel compelled to take the picture, then I think about it later. Sometimes I get lucky and look back on it and some mad coincidence has happened, like a piece of text that relates to the image itself.

DO YOU EVER STAGE YOUR SHOTS?
Because it’s an instinctual thing, I’ve never been compelled to ask, “is it OK to take a photograph?” Because it kind of ruins the energy that’s there; the thing that initially attracted me to photograph them. And it’s usually one or two snaps. And I’m walking all the time, I don’t usually hang around a lot. Most of the time I’m just walking, walking, walking. That’s what I love most about it. It’s all candid.

DO YOU TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT?
Hmm, no. I don’t usually tell them because I think that’s an extra layer that people might be annoyed by. But I’ve never had a situation in the UK, where someone’s seen the photograph and didn’t either love it or didn’t comment that much on it. I’d only take pictures where the person is like… I’m not taking away your dignity. I’m not trying to make people look like idiots. I’m trying to take pictures that have a humanistic beauty to them.

IS THERE AN ASSUMPTION THAT LEGALLY, STREET PHOTOGRAPHERS NEED TO GET PERMISSION?
If you’re standing in a public place, then you can take a picture. But then there are ethical concerns. So just because you can take a picture of something, doesn’t mean you should. You might take the picture, but then it’s another decision to post that online where thousands of people can see it. It’s really up to your own discretion. I think you should think long and hard about whether or not you you post photographs of people, especially vulnerable people.
SHANE TAYLOR JERMYN STREET

TALK TO ME ABOUT FRAMELINES MAGAZINE.
My business partner, Josh Edgoose, and I found ourselves getting quite cynical about where street photography was going. How it was sort of homogenised – everyone’s taking the same pictures of the same window in Chinatown. It was all the same and kind of boring. Then we realised that this was our fault and we could do something about it. We realised that people aren’t looking at photographs outside of their phones. We figured if we could do a magazine where we feature 5/6/7/8 photographers in a wide range of different styles of street photography, that it would give something to the community that they could use as inspiration and do something for us. It’s refreshing to have a conversation as a photographer talking to another photographer. Because usually it’s maybe an art critic or photo editor or a podcaster talking to a photographer. But if it’s a photographer, then it’s more relatable to other photographers that are looking at the interview.
Framelines magazine - issue 5

PHOTOBOOKS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU. TELL ME ABOUT YOURS?
In 2019, I made a book called Fine Airs & Fine Graces, a reference to the Oliver Twist musical, which I used to watch when I was a kid. When I was nine or ten; watching people dance around, that’s what I thought London was. I made this book just to try and get whatever feeling that came across in my photographs into one book, to have some kind of cohesive thing to look at and maybe analyse myself and to put out in the world. I’ve had enormous connections with photobooks that I’ve bought, including one by Louis Faurer. That photobook had such an impact on me that I got halfway through it and I had to stop looking at it. It was too much emotional resonance. I really felt like this person is seeing through my eyes, or like I’m seeing through their eyes.

I modelled my book on the Louis Faurer book, so it’s the same size, quite small. Because it’s a huge trend in photobooks now, to make it as big as possible, with as few images as possible and a huge foreword handholding you through the imagery, telling you you’ve done a good job of buying this book because these images are important. So, I wanted to make a very simple, small photobook with a lot of pictures in it that gave someone the impression that this is like a journey through London. That’s how it’s sequenced actually; the very first photograph is coming out of Green Park Station and then it leads you from Jermyn Street, Piccadilly, Charing Cross. It’s almost overwhelming. There’s no space in it. There’s no text in it, just pictures. I wanted it to be overwhelming because that’s what it’s like walking through London.
Fine Airs and Fine Graces by Shane Taylor

WHY ARE WE SO FASCINATED BY STREET PHOTOGRAPHY?
It’s a very human thing. How many people go to a café just to people watch? It’s the same thing. I’m people-watching with a camera. I try to bring home that moment of seeing something interesting happen. So, I think it’s just an aspect of human nature.

HOW DID THE “STREET LIFE” EXHIBITION COME ABOUT?
It came about because I’d been aware of the photographer Harold Feinstein. And then I saw there was this exhibition in London of his work at David Hill Gallery. I got very excited about that, so I went and met David at the gallery and we had a really good chat about that period of street photography, and about Harold’s work. We kept in touch and David then approached me with the idea of doing an exhibition together, which I thought was a great extension of what we’re trying to do with the magazine. It allows people the opportunity to see these photos in their best form, not just in a printed magazine, which, even though we put a lot of work into making sure the images look good, can’t match a print on a gallery wall that’s perfectly lit. Being able to work with the photographers that we work with throughout the magazine, taking some of the most interesting images and then having David curate it all in a brilliant way where it all connects, is almost an impossible job. I don’t know how he did it.

Marc Riboud - Gare St Lazare Paris 1982

Marc Riboud – Gare St. Lazare, Paris, 1982 / Street Life exhibition

Greg Girard - Greyhound Passenger Texas 1978

Greg Girard – Greyhound Passenger, Texas, 1978 / Street Life exhibition

Lisa Barlow - Is It Too Early To Be Looking Back

Lisa Barlow – Is it Too Early to Be Looking Back, Waterbury, Connecticut, 1980 / Street Life exhibition


DO YOU HAVE A “STREET LIFE” EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHT?

There’s one photograph that means a lot to me. It’s called Love on the Bus by John Simmons (below). I first saw it on Instagram and it blew me away. I love the perspective on it. I love that if you look closely, it’s quite out of focus! It’s a young couple on the bus, in Chicago. It’s such a beautiful photograph that’s out of focus so you can almost sense the nervousness of the photographer as he’s trying to focus on this moment. And it’s so human; everything about it really describes everything I love about street photography. I saw that on Instagram and I just thought, hey, I’ll email this guy. The John Simmons feature has been one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had in editing the magazine and in corresponding with a photographer. I think it’s one of the best interviews we’ve had where he’s just a fountain of incredible advice. So that photo, getting that feature and then seeing a print of it a couple of years later in a gallery, that he made himself and he signed, that’s an amazing experience.

Love on The Bus John Simmons

John Simmons, Love on the Bus, Chicago, 1967 / Street Life exhibition


ONE OF YOUR IMAGES IN THE SHOW IS TAKEN IN JERMYN STREET. WHAT’S THE FASCINATION WITH THIS STREET?

Jermyn Street in Piccadilly is probably the street that I walk down first whenever I get to Green Park. I go down Piccadilly and veer into Jermyn Street because it’s a completely different world to where I grew up. That’s the thing that fascinates me about London. As fancy as Dublin gets on it fanciest day, you’re not gonna see the same thing you do on Jermyn Street. You might see it in Paris, but it’s a different vibe completely. So, it’s hard to describe and that’s my fascination with it. It could be reduced to ‘oh, he likes photographing people in hats!’ But it’s not. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not an affectation. They’re not just dressing up for the day, that’s how they live. And that’s how they live in 2024. It’s as authentic as a photograph of a teenager standing outside a block of flats – it’s just as significant.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR IMAGE, “45 JERMYN STREET”?
It’s interesting because there’s a couple of layers to it. So, it’s Jermyn Street, but it’s Jermyn Street on a workday. It’s a photograph of a woman having a cigarette and maybe she’s just come out of a tough meeting. There’s a man passing by with his shirt tightly buttoned. It’s a very fancy street. But that view of it makes it look like this is a street where people live, work and have done for hundreds of years. It’s got a sort of Dutch angle to it, which I’d like to say was intentional. But it was really just me rushing to get the photograph. But I like that it was my point of view as I walked past. It could give the impression that you were there, you were in my shoes and you just glanced over and saw that happening. It could almost be a staged photograph, the way the composition works, but that angle, that tilt gives you that impression. If I had staged it, I would have made sure that it was perpendicular.

Shane Taylor 45 Jermyn Street - David Hill Gallery

Shane Taylor, 45 Jermyn Street, London, 2019


AND WHAT WORK DOES JOSH HAVE IN THE SHOW?

Josh’s is a photograph of a Fiat 500 in an area of Brentford. During lockdown he had the same experience as me where he was going slowly mad and had to go out for walks. He found himself just taking lots of landscapes and lots of still lifes and that ended up being a series of work for him. I think he published a book with some of that work in it next to his street photography work. It’s a nice juxtaposition between London when it’s very active and then the suburban area in Brentford.

Josh Edgoose Fiat 500 Brentford - David Hill Gallery

Josh Edgoose, Fiat 500, Brentford, London, spring 2021


WHEN YOU GO HOME TO RURAL IRELAND, WHAT DO YOU PHOTOGRAPH – TREES AND FLOWERS?

Nothing! It’s so weird. I feel like I have this pressure that I should photograph flowers. Like, that’s where I’m from and I should have my own perspective on it. But I think my perspective is on humanity. And it’s not specific to the UK, it’s not specific to any border or nationality. It’s just a human experience. It could be anywhere.

Follow Shane Taylor at @Heroesforsale, Framelines on YouTube, buy Framelines magazine and join the Framelines Patreon community. See the Street Life exhibition at David Hill Gallery, 345 Ladbroke Grove, W10 6HA until 18th May 2024.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Shane Taylor x 7; Marc Riboud; Greg Girard; Lisa Barlow; John Simmons; Shane Taylor; Josh Edgoose
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book, The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman
CLICK HERE to buy my beauty book, Face Values: The New Beauty Rituals and Skincare



The existential poetry of the overstuffed bag



Miu Miu SS24 main

Will we ever not be eternally fascinated by the ‘what’s in my bag’ trope? This SS24 – surprise! – capacious bags are trending, and not only are they big, they’re stuffed to the brim. Aligning with the outpouring of Jane Birkin love (and hot takes on her bulging Birkin), Miu Miu’s SS24 show was lauded for its chaotic bag energy – each exit showed a model toting a classic bowling bag, top handle or tote overflowing with spare shoes, keys and clothes. As you do. (more…)