Sunday night saw the highlight of our show year with the Alfaparf Stafford Hair showcase at Belfast’s Hilton Hotel. More than six months in the planning, the evening was a move away from the seminar or workshop-type event to something more visual.
Backed by our colour house, Alfaparf, the night was based on the theme of ‘Gangs’, taking inspiration from the incredible energy and creativity of New York and London street culture in the decade 1973-83. The collections focused on three imagined tribes from the period, which was even more revolutionary and creative than the 60s, incorporating glam rock, the skinhead movement, punk, post-punk and new wave, not to mention disco, hip-hop and electronica.
In art the creativity came from the streets. Whereas Andy Warhol had played with the idea of instant celebrity, artist Keith Haring and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe rejected the concept of fame and instead aimed to capture the spirit of the times. Fashion returned with a vengeance to the rebellious and the outrageous, embracing the assexuality of the glam kids, the studio 54ers, the Bowery rats of CBGBs and the deviant nowhere kids who hung around Vivienne Westwood’s Kings Road anti-fashion outlet, Sex. So this was our homage to those golden years.
The first collection, Dolls, was inspired by post-glam, prepunk, mid-70s NYC. Sexy, edgy, maybe a little dangerous and androgynous, it took its cue from Bowie but focused on New York, where glam rock and punk rock ran hand in hand nameless before someone coined the phrases ‘punk’ and ‘glam’. The hair was inspired by the home-styled feather cuts of Patti Smith, the New York Dolls and Richard Hell. Soft tendrils capped by heavy or short chopped fringes belied intricate undercut shapes that gave multi-styling options. A slightly androgynous sillouhette gave the collection an edgy, sinister side. Dolls was as shocking as the movements that inspired it, mixing blatant sexuality with violent energy.
Moth – or moda-goth – was darker, early 80s Dickensian with a nod to English bands like the Cure, Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus. Its roots lay in a hybrid of the gothic subculture and modernist design. Think baroque textile textures, rich Victorian tones of kingfisher lilac and mauve contrasting with simplistic lines and shapes. The styling was dark and menacing but entrancingly beautiful, the hair high, wide or long but simple in form with a texture approaching that of fabric, even moth-like in appearance, with little sheen or reflection. Matt finishes and muted, flat colours gave a nod to the modernist movement while the detailing and styling had a Tim Burton, cartoonish gothic quality.
Finally Skin-Angel was our homage to youth and rebellion, misunderstood kids who wanted to express themeselves any way they could – through their hair, tattoos, piercings and clothes that didn’t fit properly. The Skin Angels were a tribe of nomad skinheads who had survived the Apocalypse, a tough inner-city gang with many individuals but all fiercely loyal to their own. Inspiration came from movies like The Warriors and This is England. The collection relied heavily on a patriotic but angry sense of Englishness that comes from the ‘no future’ generation. Dr Martens, Ben Sherman shirts, Fred Perry and crombies played key roles. While the influence of the skin-bird haircut was visible, elements of other movements of the late 70s youth culture tribes – punks, teds and mods – combined to make this collection the most vibrant of the three, and a spectacular finale to the evening.