Artists,Designers and Muses
“We are enjoying life, having fun if ya know what I mean”
“Dance music at the moment is so fucking dead, producers are too safe, they rely on being retro. It’s fucking bollocks. There’s no pushing forward any more.”
“My association always came through this idea that there was a function to fashion at that time. People didn’t just dress to show off, but so they could dance for 12 hours straight!”
In the late eighties we were introduced to a new culture: The Rave culture. Raves today are not entirely what they used to be. When a “non” raver hears the word Rave things that can come to mind are loud music, drugs, and many illegal actions.
When we think about the raves in the 80s and 90s we can not give the culture a specific place or date of birth we can not even give it one specific genre of music. Electronica, acid house, techno, psy, acid breaks
are just a few of the genres that are played at these events.
There is so much that comes with this culture, just the fact that it still lives and will probably do for many years to come.
When we think of the 90s one of the artists and Icons that come to mind are The Prodigy. The members of the group are Liam Howlett, Leeroy Thornhill Keith Flint and Maxim. With the first single “Charly” that became a huge hit in the rave scene and was than included in the charts bringing this nearly new culture to the mass media not for it’s illegal parties but for it’s music. The genre they played was a mix of hardcore, electronic music, big beat and break beat. It was a group of musicians, dj’s and dancers. With their unique looks and attitudes they made sure that when you would hear “The Prodigy” you would think of nothing else but them.
Raves were born to rebel against the imposed standards, they where a place were you would go and feel free, enjoy the company and feel as one. The “invite” to one of these events was one of the most interesting concepts, from flyers to pirate radios and word of mouth hundred of people reunited.
The designs of the flyers were the most captivating things, unfortunately on most of them there are no credits and probably to not get involved with the police that was active on making sure these raves did not take place. The bright colours and harsh text were also brought in to clothing. The classic white T-shirt with the smiley is one of the most famous and remade.
When buying clothing for a rave there are no boundaries, obviously you will not want to wear heels wile walking on miles of deserted fields
but apart from this you are free to wear what ever you feel like.
You are free to be your self and not be expected to (whatever you are expected to be and however you are expected to act).
Even though there are no barriers there are those few staple pieces most kids wanted to own in the 90s like for the junglists (those who listned to drum & bass/ jungle music) the MA2 bomber jackets and on these they would embroider their favoured rave or radio station or the JNCO Wide Leg Jeans.
Rave culture is not the most referenced in fashion but there have been a few brands that have ventured in this concept.
This years menswear Autumn /Winter collections have been bombarded with rave culture nods, some like Dior Homme with the logo HarDior referencing hardcore and the artwork of Dan Witz (named Mosh Pits) and Christopher Shannon that referenced rave culture with a message of “Peace, Love, Unity and Respect”.
With the political tensions that there are like Brexit, unpredictable nation leaders or the detachment social media brings we feel more alone than ever and these brands have decided to be inspired by one of the most unifying culture there is to date.
As was mentioned before, flyers and their content influenced many designers throughout the years, one that brought these flyers to life is Martine Rose with her Autumn / Winter 2014 menswear collection.
“It’s interesting to see how these flyers – which at the time were essentially cheap forms of communication – have now been elevated into an art form.”
She incorporated her love for the music especially the rave/dance scene in London and she took from the Wild Life Archive some rare rave flyers that were relevant with her experience with the culture “it’s because I wanted to preserve this analogue form of communication. It’s like showing your colours. I really wanted to keep it quite personal. It’s such a big part of my experience of growing up in London”.
Thanks to designers like her we can be reminded of the history of the rave culture but in this era, one were there is no fixing but re-buying most ravers try to incorporate vintage wear in their collections, shops like Wavey Garms and sites like Too Hot collect the most interesting pieces like logo t-shirts and two piece sets.
In the rave culture of the 90’s there was very little distinction with menswear and womenswear. The baggy t-shirts, hoodies and trousers made it so that not only people could feel as one and in a way genderless but all at the same event for the same reason, all there to be liberated by daily problems of life and society and not to be judged or feel alone. These raves offer something different, no matter were these take place if in a field or a warehouse.
When it comes to documenting the late 80s and early 90s in rave culture the few resources we have are photos and videos taken by ravers themselves. Luckily thanks to people like Neville and Gavin Watson, not only photographers but also followers of the movement we have grate memorabilia of the parties that took place in East London.
Gavin Watson explained how there was no more pressure, no dress code “It was totally fresh, it blew us away. It was a real force in the country, like a revolution’”.
When it comes to a direct link to fashion magazines we can find in ones like I-D or The Face other grate references to the culture.
There are spreads throughout the 90s with rave/street style and people’s thoughts on these nights out.
Clubs are closing down everywhere and the police are always stopping these events. The illegal part of it all makes it more wanted, more interesting, being there as one, not being able to say where and when, not having boundaries, there is a feeling of togetherness.
No one is left alone, no one is alone.
Probably if these parties were legal there would not be the same excitement.
If it’s in Ukraine were it’s more for a political protest, in Italy for a social message or in England for a few hours of liberation from daily stress the Rave scene is not going anywhere for many years to come.