Super Sharp, the first in a series of events celebrating the style, sound and rave culture of the 1990s, will open at the Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion on 1 February.
The first instalment of the RTRN II JUNGLE series, Super Sharp explores the appropriation of luxury Italian designer brands in the underground music scenes of Jungle and UK Garage. Versace, Moschino, Iceberg and D&G are among the labels synonymous with the look of the era.
Curated by Tory Turk and jointly conceived with Saul Milton (DJ and producer and one half of Drum & Bass duo Chase & Status), Super Sharp draws from an extensive Moschino archive amassed Milton, which also forms the core of RTRN II JUNGLE.
“I’ve been collecting and wearing Moschino since 1997/8. Today, I look and dress like I did back then, pony tail, jewellery and tapered, tailored vintage Moschino and reebok classics. My collection is largely clothes that you would have seen in the raves and the clubs in the 90’s and early 2000’s. It’s a collection of nostalgia, of times when we appropriated other cultures and twisted and turned them into our own style, our own look. Rudeboy culture was everything and fast forward to 2018, it’s come full circle,” Milton said.
The exhibition traces the emergence of the Jungle and UK Garage music scenes and the shift in club culture and style they initiated. Jungle – a form of electronic dance music derived from old school hardcore and heavily influenced by American hip hop and Jamaican sound-system culture – was born out of the Bristol and London underground rave scenes in the early 1990s.
UK Garage emerged in the mid-90s in South London (with its roots in the original Garage sound which began in New York in the 1980s) with hype around the genre reaching its height between 1998-2000. It brought with it stricter door policies, refusing entry to clubbers wearing caps and trainers. The sound attracted more females, which in turn changed the attitudes within the club. Dancing and posing became even more about flaunting affluence.
The title Super Sharp embodies this attitude to dressing, visible in black culture before the emergence of these iconic UK subcultures. It also draws reference from the 1996 DJ Zinc track of the same title. The exhhibition will be narrated by quotes from musicians such as PJ & Smiley (Shut up & Dance), Navigator, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, Goldie and Chase & Status, while editorial features on Jungle and UK Garage from the magazine archives of The Face, i-D and Dazed will also be displayed alongside never-before-seen outtake clubbing shots from underground rave magazine Eternity.
Tory Turk is an independent exhibition curator, specialising in style and popular culture. She is also Head Archivist & Creative Lead of the Hyman Archive (The World’s Largest Magazine Collection). “Today there has been a revival of interest in the music, style and culture of that time. Jungle and UK Garage took place before the emergence of the Internet and the history is extensively documented online. The Internet’s version can be subverted, the overlap between Jungle and UK Garage style can become confused. A more truthful picture is revealed through the voices of people who were actually there at the time,” she said.
Super Sharp runs from 1 February to 21 April at Fashion Space Gallery, 20 John Prince’s Street, London, W1G 0BJ. Entrance is free.