Union Black at the London College of Fashion

Contemporary Black Music Culture, in association with the London College of Fashion's ‘Union Black' season, delivered three bespoke illustrated lectures exploring modern black music's relationship with fashion.

This unique academic collaboration dissected the aesthetics adopted by music makers in order to identify what their choices communicated in terms of personal and social identity and how impactful those choices were in establishing a ‘look' for the burgeoning or established musical genres they represented.

Cultural traditions governing everything from hair styles to stage-wear were examined in order to assess British histrionics. The role the music industry plays in pushing, suppressing and in some cases being completely blind-sided by cultural related fashion trends was also explored.

Goldie, Don Letts, Paulin Black, Jazzie B and Anglophile PP Arnold were invited to the London College of Fashion to take part in intimate ‘Talking Heads' sessions, where they discussed art and style and the role British society and politics played in the establishment of their personal style and subsequent ‘musical uniform.'

The Talking Heads sessions – which were compiled and conducted by Jacqueline Springer - were filmed for the London College of Fashion's archive . February & March 2009

'Space Children: From Dr Funkenstein to The ArchAndroid' at The British Library As part of the British Library's 'Out of This World' science fiction season, Union Black presented a sold-out afternoon of conversation and reflection with George Clinton, Labelle's Nona Hendryx and (via pre- recorded multi-media contribution) Janelle Monae and Chuck Lightning (Creative Director of the Wondaland Arts Society) who discussed the influence sci-fi, technology, literature and afro futurism on their musical output and sartorial choices. June 2011

Hendrix at 70' at the Victoria & Albert Museum, November 2012: 'Fashioning Hendrix,' 'Hendrix Through the Lens,' & 'Rock & Race'.

Had he lived, Jimi Hendrix would have celebrated his 70th birthday on November 27th 2012. To mark it, the V&A, in conjunction with Conemporary Black Music Culture, celebrated, explored and discussed the cultural contribution of the musician widely acknowledged as ‘…the world's greatest rock guitarist.' These events sought to delve into Hendrix's sartorial and visual image as well as his musical, racial and cultural legacy.

Fashioning Hendrix examined the popularity of army surplus wear with the fashion-forward members of Britain's post-war generation - the popularity of which presented another avenue of division between the generations. Hendrix's favour of the Hussar jacket was discussed since the recreational deportment of this item by the young subverted the long-established message the garment relayed and ushered in debate regarding respect for the past and conflict sacrifice at a time of acute anti-war sentiment. The military and cultured history of the Hussar jacket was explored in an illustrated discussion with military fashion historian Erica Arnold.

Hendrix Through the Lens concluded the night. Celebrated photographer Gered Mankowitz recalled his artistic relationship with Jimi, the iconic photographs produced, the social period of the time and the subsequent legacy of rock portraiture. This was followed by an interview with music producer Joe Boyd, co-director of the 1973 posthumous documentary 'Jimi Hendrix,' where his work, in the moving image, juxtaposed to that of Gered's, allowing patrons to consider how a subject's value is constantly reappraised through the way they are visually framed.

'Hendrix at 70' was jointly organised by The V&A and Contemporary Black Music Culture and had the full endorsement of Experience Hendrix.

Janie L. Hendrix, President/CEO:

"Jimi first found a loving audience who greeted him with open arms in London. Jimi's fans embraced him all throughout England and continue to celebrate his great legacy to this day.This year his spirit returns for his 70th birthday. The family is honored to be at the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the legacy."

Union Black for V&A Connects: 'From the Decks to the Runway' - & 'Just an Ilusion' for Friday Late: Back to the 80s - Victoria & Albert Museum

Union Black were commissioned by V&A Connects - the Victoria & Albert Museum's creative industries outeach programme (aimed at people currently employed in, or interested in entering, the creative industries) - to deliver two events in conjunction with its Club to Catwalk exhibition.

'From the Decks to the Runway' explored the migatory influence music played in '80s London club-land on the fashion choices of the subcultures that formed. How sound assisted in reflecting sartorial identity, how the styles worn by people dancing in clubs specialising in house, soul, rap and reggae found their way unto the fashion runways was explored in an In Conversation evening with the esteemed DJ, record label and pirate radio co-founder Norman Jay MBE, stylist and art director Karen Binns and academic, author and curator Carol Tulloch.

Union Black also contributed to the V&A's October Friday Late menu of events by showing how separate artistic components (music, visual identity and performance) contributed so vitally to the '80s club-land subcultural experience. This was achieved by the resumption of Union Black's collaborative relationship with the performance troupe, The Immaculate Extremists and London College of Fashion's BA (Hons) Hair, Make Up and Prosthetics for Performance students for 'Just an Illusion'. LCFs students revivied several bold looks displayed in the Club to Catwalk exhibition for the Immaculates who performed among the V&A audience on the night..

 

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