The opening of the V&A Club To Catwalk exhibition provided plenty of opportunity to bump into lots of old faces. I was thrilled to meet up with designer Sue Clowes, one of my favourite lady friends from the era. Back in the day, while Sue was busily making clothes for Boy George and the Culture Clubbers, I would borrow her designs for shoots in BLITZ magazine. I think we even collaborated on an advert for her label. First and foremost a textile designer, Sue’s original designs merrily mixed religious iconography (specifically Judaism and Catholicism), tattoos and ‘King of the road’ hobo secret sign language, while later collections took inspiration from night attire, Victorian prostitutes, ragamuffins, the Olympics and car crashes. Her designs were a big hit with pop stars such as the aforementioned Mr O’Dowd, Toyah, Nina Hagan, Bananarama and Shalimar and sold at The Foundry, BOY and Review. Following our meeting at the V&A exhibition, which naturally features a fabulous Sue Clowes ensemble, I took another nostalgia trip when I came across this photograph on the designers website. “The photo was styled and taken by my daughter, Marta,” says Sue. “She built an 80’s bed-sit in a studio and shot the entire collection in it. It made me feel so nostalgic I wanted to move into it!” The picture made me equally dewy-eyed for the slew of one-time shared flats in dubious parts of London, long vacated down the years. I was especially impressed by the particular attention to detail in the styling: from the juxtaposition of the record covers including David Bowie’s Low, the soundtrack to South Pacific, Malcolm McLaren’s Duck Rock and The Jam’s In The City single along with a handful of Polaroids and even negatives tacked to the wall to the crocheted granny blanket covering the bed, the drawer balanced as a bedside table and the accumulation of tacky ornaments. Model Francesco took me right back to the summer of 1984. With his mucked-up quiff and cut-off jeans he could have happily been hanging out on the pavement outside the Chelsea Potter on the Kings Road, or maybe the Markham just up the road. “Marta now owns the Sue Clowes company and is the stylist, product manager and developer of the line,” says Sue in proud-mother mode. “At the moment she is collaborating with Fornarina to re-launch the 80’s prints.” Currently Marta is working on a new set to style the winter menswear prints for the Sue Clowes online store. It would seem the label couldn’t be in better hands.
Photograph by Marta Melani
Model: Francesco Mazzuca.