Fashion gods help us! We’ve been hoping to escape it, but it seems that as the seasons heat up and we turn our fancies to all-night parties and discoing till dawn, Clubwear 2.0 is upon us. Yes, neon prints, skintight lycra and clashing colours that would turn a bat blind have become one of the fashion trends of summer 2022—much as we’d hate to admit it.
Interestingly, however, looking back over the centuries of fabulous clothing, we can spot an apparent trend. The clothes we wear during our nocturnal hours—at least in public, anyway—have given rise to plenty of enduring style moments. Couture houses and designers may see themselves as fashion influencers, but we know we can find the real inspiration on the dancefloor.
solid gold. Speaking of the dancefloor, has there ever been a more iconic dancefloor than the one at Studio 54? Swarming with fashion icons from the moment the doors in this former Broadway theatre swung open in 1977, Studio 54 was a veritable birthing pool of enduring trend after enduring trend. This era was a fashion moment where beauty was prized above all else. ‘More is more’ was the approach taken for maquillage; hair was higher than the gods, and, to top it all off, if an outfit wasn’t dripping in sequins and rhinestones or crafted from the most sumptuous crushed velvet or skintight satin, it simply wasn’t Studio 54 worthy. Sadly, the doors at 254 West 54th Street closed just two years after they opened up to the Shangri-La of New York. But, while the building has found new life as a theatre once again, disco fashion continues to live on, year after year.
european elegance. OK, so the Oscars red carpet and the Met Ball are two staple fashion moments in the sartorial calendar, but when it comes to after-dark elegance, Europeans really do do it better. We’re talking the effortless elegance of dressing for Cannes here; the afterparties of Paris, Milan or London fashion week, and even the historical fineries worn by the wealthy patrons of Europe’s swankiest casinos. Yes, no matter the occasion, there’s something about the way Europeans put together their after-dark outfits that we can’t help but want to emulate. Get yourself a dress that can do it all, from looking sleek at the premiere of the latest controversial cinematic release to wafting around on a mega-yacht.
the (club) kids are alright. While the 1980s may have been a fever dream for a few key figures involved in the explosion of Club Kid, this is one nightlife movement that forever changed pop culture. Whether in the basement clubs of Soho, London, or the disused Lower East Side warehouses, this era was personified by over-indulgence, extravagance and individualism.
The emergence of Eighties Club Kids coincided with the death of the Punk movement. What had once started out as an anarchistic rebellion against the system and all its associated uniformity lost its spark as the new decade came upon us. For club kids, dressing up for the night was their version of an anti-establishment activity. On the dancefloor, this assorted group of foundlings could be whoever they wanted to be, and no one could tell them otherwise.
The impact of club kid culture on sartorial trends and the general zeitgeist deserves an anthology of its own. In fact, London’s V&A Museum dove into the relationship between Eighties fashion and nightclub culture back in 2013. This movement was driven by originality, creativity and more than a bit of spunk.
Leigh Bowery’s outlandish outfits blurred the lines between fashion, art and performance. Michael Alig and James St James pushed the boundaries of gender expression with their avant-garde apparel. Meanwhile, over the other side of the pond, a Welsh lad by the name of Steve Strange had the whole of London in a tailspin with his legendary collaborations with Jean Paul Gaultier. Punk may have died out, but you only have to look at any of the androgynous or outlandish fashion movements of today to see that the Club Kid aesthetic is still alive and kicking.