Oh, how I loved these fabulous black wooden beads which look as good today as they did in 1981 when Judy Blame first gave them to me, the first piece that he ever made! I wore them with everything, particularly the super-simple little cotton shifts I was so fond of at the time. They completely dressed up anything! Much-photographed during the 80s, I feel greatly honoured to own them. Dress (right) Leigh Bowery. Necklace Judy Blame.
Having spent the early part of the 80s covered up in shroud-like clothing I enjoyed getting my legs and arms out in 1985 when Bodymap gave us ‘Barbie takes a trip round nature’s cosmic curves’. I loved this little mini-dress and wore it with frilly knickers. I wore it for years. A fabulous little garment. The jacket was made by a couple of American boys whose names, I’m embarrassed to say, escapes me now but their label was called Casa Vaselina and they turned old denim jeans into cropped jackets with fabulous knitted panels bearing a design and their name on the back. This was around 1987 or 88 so they were the original fashion upcyclers. We sold these at Michael and Gerlinde Costiff’s shop, World in Lichfield Street, which is how I came by mine. Dress, knickers and stockings Bodymap. Jacket Casa Vaselina.
This was the first outfit that Leigh ever made me, way back in 1981 shortly after he pitched up at Cha Cha, wearing a hideously suburban blue velvet cape. A friend of mine had sent him along and asked me to look after him as Leigh didn’t know many people in London at the time. I told Leigh he could come in so long as he promised to ditch the cape and never wear it again! We became great friends and he’d make outfits for me to wear out to the club. We loved watching old black-and-white films, not least for the outfits. Leigh made 1940s-inspired pyjama suits for us – me, Trojan and himself, always from very inexpensive cotton usually found on a market stall but always beautifully stitched with French seaming. They looked a million dollars and we wore them day and night. Leigh stitched handwritten labels inside, which makes it very special. Pyjama suit Leigh Bowery.
I loved this three-piece wool suit. You can wear the jacket with the trousers or with the shorts. I generally preferred the shorts with long boots, just as Billie is wearing in the photograph. I believe it’s from the very early 80s, I can’t be sure which as it was given to me, but it’s a great suit that carried me right through the decade! The leather bra top was designed by my friends Patrick Whitaker and Keir Malem for Naomi Campbell to wear in a car ad in 1992 and given to me afterwards. I celebrated my 30th birthday wearing that bra top. Jacket and shorts Vivienne Lynn. Bra Whitaker Malem.
Very often on a Tuesday afternoon Leigh would pitch up at my flat clutching an outfit that he’d made for me to wear that evening to Cha Cha, a club I ran from 1981-82 with Michael Hardy aka Maria Malipasta. This was one of those outfits. This dress is as simple as it looks – two pieces of cotton with an insert of nylon organza. Made in 1982 it is one of my most photographed outfits from that time. Dress Leigh Bowery. Photograph (right) of a portrait by the late artist Luciana Martinez.
Mark Lawrence was a brilliant young designer who left this world too early and too young. This gorgeous little two-piece dress and jacket suit was part of his 1985 collection. He gave it to me when I was off on a trip to Japan, to make sure that his work got seen. In those days everybody wanted to make their name in Japan. Everything about this little two-piece sings -high quality fabric, exquisitely cut and beautifully made. I always appreciate attention to detail and love the metal buttons on the jacket, the blue trim that perfectly sets off the tonic colours, and the little pouch pockets on the jacket. It’s a piece of technical genius actually. Dress and Jacket suit Mark Lawrence. Gloves Bernstock Spiers.
Left: This T-shirt was given to me in 1981 by a friend who’d had it a while but couldn’t find anybody small enough to fit into it. It is particularly tiny. It is also short-sleeved, which I’m told was quite rare although I don’t know for sure. I wore it an awful lot for a good number of years. It remains in original condition and amazingly still has the printed muslin “Brian Epstein” flap attached. Right: From the Witches collection in 1983 and featuring Keith Haring’s graffiti art this knitted top is still in amazing condition. You really can’t beat quality. It looks great dressed up and it looks great dressed down. Almost 30 years old, it looks as good now as it did then. Left: Cambridge Rapist muslin T-shirt Seditionaries. Right: Witches top Worlds End.
Left: Scarlett wearing Dress and Jacket Suit Mark Lawrence. Photography Nick Knight for Stern Magazine. Right: Photography Monica Curtin for Blitz Magazine, issue no.27, c. 1985.