London Party Fashion in the Noughties

Book Report on "New Club Kids"

My first indication of what I was in for when I picked up New Club Kids came from the book’s cover. A young woman gazed out from beneath thick, black eyelashes, wearing a white jumpsuit, a blue plastic choker, and what appeared to be a bejewelled chinstrap. I wasn’t sure what sort of party would have bejewelled chinstraps as part of its dress code, but I wanted to be invited.

New Club Kids: London Party Fashion in the Noughties starts by explaining how London’s club scene has evolved over the course of several decades, beginning when youth of the ’70s became bored with the dominant punk fashions and began to search for something a little different. Beginning with David Bowie-inspired nights at clubs, an entire subculture of unlikely party style emerged. These teens became known as the New Romantics, but they also had well-known sub-groups, and many of them—like Princess Julia, who partied with the likes of Marc Almond and Boy George—received attention from the media and gained fame because of their style, or because of their music, or simply because they were there.

At first, I was oblivious to the writing. I looked through the book of photographs, my mouth slightly agape, intrigued by the elaborate and outlandish outfits that London clubbers had put together. Some people stuck to “classic” lace-and-leather mixes. Others went their own way. Think you can’t wear spoons as headgear? Think again. Think wigs are just for your head, and pillows just for your bed? Wrong once more. Just as fascinating as the outfits were the makeup and hair of the people wearing them. Faces were painted fully white, black, pink. Eyes were gaudily embellished and coloured. There was liberal usage of fake blood and metallic eyeshadow. I was infatuated by these extreme styles—for a brief moment, I was in London, I was partying with these exotic alien dancers, and I was confident and creative in my own fantastical ensemble.

The photographs in New Club Kids are not taken during the time of the ’80s and ’90s club scene. They were taken, as the title of the book suggests, during the decade of the “noughties,” or the 2000s. Yordanov chooses to immortalize the fleeting moments and styles of the London club fashion at this time to show how it is ever-changing. At the beginning of New Club Kids, Yordanov writes that when he moved to London in 2001, major clubs still dominated the club scene, but “dressing down” was becoming the new fashion. This depressed him, because he wanted to see the crazy, inspired styles of the ’80s and, “for a while [he] believed that the avant-garde fashion of the real underground London had disappeared… Thankfully, things were starting to change.”

New Club Kids was less about the clothes, and more about the people. Or rather, it was about how the people wore the clothes (and what the people wore as clothes). You can flip through the book quickly and easily, seeing only the costumed club kids as weirdos in crazy outfits—or you can carefully look at each outfit, deconstruct it, discover the separate parts of it, and see how, just like this book of photographs, they come together to create a brand new whole.

further reading // New Club Kids: London Party Fashion in the Noughties by Oggy Yordanov, Prestel Art, 2011
book report // Sofie Mikhaylova
photography // Jessica da Silva

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