The latest immersive project dreamed up by Nick Knight and Lou Stoppard on SHOWstudio is called Girly. The curated series explores the trend for ‘overt, cartoon femininity’ that is so prevalent on the catwalk and social media. The project includes Girl, a fashion film co-directed by Knight and Rei Nadal (whose work Knight fell for when he happened upon her Tumblr page), interviews with designer Ryan Lo, photographer and artist Arvida Bystrom and stylist/creative director Louby Mcloughlin, an essay by Dr Rebecca Hains (Girl Power: The Problematics of Reclaiming the Girlish), amusing musings on emojis by Chris Hobbs and Ana Kinsella’s paean to Brit designer Luella Bartley.
There is definitely a touch of early Like A Virgin Madonna about this trend and back in the 1980s cartoony clothes certainly made fashion’s heart beat faster (it was like you’d turned up both the colour and sound controls on your TV to the max at the same time) with designers such as Westwood and McLaren, Bodymap, Rachel Auburn and Leigh Bowery working the ‘too tall, too short, too loose or too taut’ look (thanks Curiosity Killed The Cat). A young lady who made the look her own was the super talented Elmaz Hüseyin, who found inspiration in kids’ comics such as the Beano, Dandy and Topper. The picture above shows some of her cuddly candyfloss coloured menswear designs (I think they were cut from fleecy winceyette cotton). These softly tailored suits with drop-crotch trousers (very now!) were hand painted by Hüseyin with bold black lines outlining the silhouette along with seams and details such as pockets, gussets and fly fronts. She also painted on texture. This shoot, featuring the designer between the two male models, was commissioned for the Mail on Sunday colour supplement. The models were actually two French boys called Bruno (left with catcher’s mitt) and Denis (right with baseball bat) who we met in a nightclub. They wore make-up bruises and sticking plasters to give them the appearance of a bona fide Bash Street Kid. The image was shot on 30th September 1983 by photographer Sally Boon against the brick wall at the back of the Pembury Estate council flats in Hackney. Funny how we never noticed the lewd graffiti on the wall (or maybe we did?), although I am pretty certain that this did not feature in the final published fashion spread. I don’t think the readers of the MoS would have seen the funny side…
In an earlier edition of BLITZ magazine I featured Hüseyin in a NEW DESIGNERS slot. Fresh out of St Martin’s School of Art and inspired by Picasso she was painting old white shirts to sell in the punk shop, BOY. This image was shot by photographer Mike Owen at his warehouse studio in Clink Street by the Thames on 3rd January 1983. We got Hüseyin and her friend Isaac Julien (now a noted film maker and installation artist) to paint the backdrop on the floor, which took ages to dry and things were made even more complicated because an Italian TV company was filming the shoot (things like that just seemed to be part of our lot at the time). The model was another friend from the nightclub scene, Baillie Walsh, who is now a celebrated film director – he was responsible for the ethereal hologram of Kate Moss that was the finale for Alexander McQueen’s Widows of Culloden Autumn/Winter 2006/07 fashion show and also Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy video, in my opinion one of the best music videos ever made. Fun times, non?
Top – Photographer: Sally Boon
Bottom – Photographer: Mike Owen