We have been delving into the archive of fashion designer and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) lecturer Juliana Sissons. Housed within the Gallery Vitrines, London’s Calling reveals an eclectic collection of Juliana’s personal memorabilia and influences, iconic magazine features, design objects, and video footage from the 1980s.
The 1980s was a decade when civil unrest threatened to undermine the country’s social order. Meanwhile, London’s fashion was at its most novel and diverse. At a time when Vogue was covering trend directions in pastel shade twinsets and pearls, the Face, i-D, and Blitz magazines were embracing the raw creativity in the unique style of London’s youth culture.
Young people were making innovative statements about contemporary life through their dress. Not driven by fashion labels of the time, but preferring to create their own ‘signature’ through eclectic mixes of jumble sale finds, vintage pieces, old theatre costumes, and home sewn garments – pushing ideas outside of their traditional influences.
Young fashion designers emerged in an ad hoc way during the early 80s and were echoed in the anarchic environment of the music industry, and in the nightclubs that sprang up spontaneously across the capital. Creative self-expression was the focus that formed the ethos of London’s clubs in the early 1980s and the hedonistic mix of people who were drawn to this scene encouraged creativity and risk taking in design.
This unique display gives a snapshot of Juliana’s life as a fashion designer in London through the 1980s, working with the likes of Lee Alexander McQueen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Top of the Pops, Divine, Scarlett Cannon, Leigh Bowery, Isabella Blow, and Judy Blame – capturing the excitement of this unique time of self-expression.