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Super Sharp: The First Instalment of ‘RTRN II JUNGLE’

Regular readers of SEEN will know what fans we are of the Fashion Space Gallery at the London College of Fashion in John Prince’s Street. It’s a place where it is possible to gauge current cultural attitudes as they happen. ‘Super Sharp’ is the first in a series of exhibitions and events exploring the style, sound and Rave Culture in the nineties. It starts on Thursday 1st February and runs until Saturday 21st April 2018.

The exhibition traces the emergence of the Jungle and UK Garage music scenes and the shift in club culture and style it 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. Developed through pirate radio, it directed its audience to licensed raves in and around London. This club venue environment inspired a new raving style – integrating the colourful look of rave culture with urban combat gear and flashy designer labels.

UK Garage emerged in the mid-90s in South London with hype around the genre, reaching its height between 1998-2000. With its roots in the original Garage sound, which began in 1980s New York, it often incorporated soulful R&B-inflected vocals combined with a distinctive 4×4 percussion rhythm and heavy sub-bass. 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; it was more restricted, classier and sexier.

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.

Saul Milton says:

‘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 90s and early 2000s. 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’.

The scenes will be recreated through memories, constructing a collective nostalgia of the time. Narrated by quotes from musicians such as PJ & Smiley (Shut Up & Dance), Navigator, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, Goldie and Chase & Status, who all played formative roles in the rise of these subcultures, their personal memories shed light on why designer clothing was first embraced by Jungle ravers and then made famous by UK Garage. By combining the music, testimonials and the original garments, it reveals why high-end Italian labels were so important to the cultural and style history of both genres.

Tory Turk says:

‘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.’

 Editorial features on Jungle and UK Garage from the magazine archives of The Facei-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).

Saul Milton is one half of Drum & Bass duo ‘Chase & Status’. CHASE & STATUS are one of the most successful British bands of the past decade having sold over 3.5 million records and producing for artists such as Rihanna and Snoop Dogg.

RTRN II Jungle will comprise of a series of exhibitions, documentaries, tour dates and EP’s with Chase & Status making the music that crafted their careers; Jungle/Drum & Bass.

Fashion Space Gallery
London College of Fashion,
20 John Prince’s Street

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