W11: A Fashion History

Originally published on White Noise

May 2018

WEST LONDONERS? WE’RE A FASHIONABLE LOT. FROM THE CARNIVAL QUEENS AND IT GIRLS TO THE FLAPPERS AND PUNKS, WRITER JOHN-MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN WILL BE DELVING INTO W11’S FASHION HISTORY THIS THURSDAY AT SECOND HOME IN HOLLAND PARK. PLUS, THERE’S A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS TO BRING IT ALL TO LIFE.

 We caught up with O’Sullivan to talk about all things stand-out, Vogue and of course, West London.

What have been the most stand-out moments in West London’s fashion history, and why?

There have been so many! But I do think that the story of how the Teddy Girls emerged. These young, working-class women rebelling against the prim-and-proper Fifties aesthetic, and inventing a style of their own, is fascinating. Likewise in the Sixties, when a generation of young artists and designers like David Hockney, Ossie Clark, Sandra Rhodes and Biba’s Barbara Hulanicki moved into the area, and formed this extraordinary bohemian hub. And for entirely different reasons, I’ll always have a soft spot for W11’s most famous (fictional) fashion residents, Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone!

What were the key components behind W11 being the centre for such a rich fashion history?

I think it’s the district’s incredible diversity. Within this single postcode, there have been so many influxes of cultures and subcultures over the decades, from flappers to Teddy Girls to punks. And then, the fact that it’s been home to one of the most famous second-hand markets in the world for decades has meant that W11’s history is constantly being rediscovered and reinvented — that’s something you can see everywhere from Ray Petri’s styling for The Face in the Eighties, right the way through to Molly Goddard’s spectacular vintage-inspired dresses (which just won her top prize at this year’s BFC/Vogue Fashion Fund).

What current trends in W11 can be traced back?

I think, rather than a specific trend, it’s that eclectic, anarchic spirit — that blending of all the eras and aesthetics that have shaped the district’s culture over the past century.

This talk is part of a crowdfunding campaign to help publish the story of top 1950’s fashion model Barbara Mullen, find out more here.

Wanna book your tickets or find out more? Click here. 

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