LCF’s Fashion Space Gallery launches the first instalment of RTRN II Jungle, a series of shows and events documenting the styles and sounds of 1990s British rave.
Super Sharp, curated by Tory Turk and jointly conceived with DJ/producer Saul Milton (Chase of massive British drum’n’bass band Chase & Status), explores the luxury Italian designer brands that ruled the dance floors. Versace, Iceberg and D&G were picked up precisely because their florid excess was a sharp retort to the minimalism of other brands at the time, like Prada and Gap.
Particularly key was Moschino – and it’s Milton’s epic Moschino collection that forms the backbone of the series, more than 1,500 pieces organised chronologically from the early Eighties onwards.
“I’ve been collecting and wearing Moschino since 1997/8,” says Milton. “Today, I look and dress like I did back then – pony tail, jewellery and tapered, tailored vintage Moschino and reebok classics. My collection is a collection of nostalgia, of times when we appropriated other cultures and twisted and turned them into our own style, our own look. Rudeboy culture was everything and fast forward to 2018, it’s come full circle.”
Streetwear is now so big, it’s outgrown the definition of trend, spilling out of clubs onto catwalks, from dancehalls onto red carpets. And, no less so, the 1990s has provided rich pickings for today’s designers, caught up in the era’s hedonistic but oddly innocent chutzpah – when all that mattered was the way you looked and the music you listened to.
“Today, there has been a revival of interest in the music, style and culture of that time,” agrees Turk. “Jungle and UK Garage took place before the emergence of the Internet and the history is extensively documented online. The Internet’s version can be subverted, the overlap between Jungle and UK Garage style can become confused. A more truthful picture is revealed through the voices of people who were actually there at the time.”
The exhibition traces the emergence of the Jungle and UK Garage music scenes and the shift in club culture and style it initiated. Scenes will be recreated through memories, constructing a collective nostalgia of the time, narrated by quotes from musicians such as PJ & Smiley (Shut up & Dance), Navigator, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, Goldie and Chase & Status, who all played formative roles in the rise of these subcultures.
Editorial features on Jungle and UK Garage from the magazine archives of The Face, i-D and Dazed will also be displayed alongside never-before-seen outtake clubbing shots from underground rave magazine Eternity.
And the title itself? ‘Super Sharp’ embodies this attitude to dressing, visible in black culture before the emergence of these iconic UK subcultures and draws reference from the 1996 DJ Zinc track of the same title. As I said, oddly innocent.