Face Off London's fashion cliques connect—and compete—at Boombox
February 9, 2007 style.com
London is back on a fashion high it hasn't experienced for a decade. A new cohort of a dozen contenders for serious international attention is taking to the runway this week, but as ever in this city, the real story is the exploding subculture that's fueling all the creativity. The source of the optimistic energy ricocheting between designers' studios and the clubs can chiefly be tracked down to Boombox, run by Richard Mortimer at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in the East End on Sundays. Here, Central Saint Martins student sybarites, drag queens, and young designers compete in a weekly spectacle of outdress-thy-neighbor, taking shoestring-budget sartorial customization—and incredible feats of makeup—to almost editorial levels of innovation.
Their self-appointed photographic chronicler—here, there, and at every other club night worth looking at—is the super-talented Alistair Allan, who posts his beautifully composed, color-saturated close-in head shots on his daily-changing Web site Dirtydirtydancing.com. "I think the reason these clubs are so creative is because it's all the fashion kids hanging out trying to be more extravagant or better dressed than anyone else," said Allan. "It's really competitive, but in a fun and friendly way."
A skim through his catalog shows trends rising, changing, and skewing off in dozens of individualistic directions. Week by week, the tame notion of "eye makeup" has evolved into wildly colorful and meticulous face painting. Lately, long feather eyelashes and demi-veils. Mini-crazes swirl around, from a knowing referencing of the forties-meets-eighties to an army-uniformed WWII vibe. Infinite numbers of things are done with bows, ties, cravats, and ribbons. Pink Dynel wigs are bubbling under. And huge lens-less glasses are yet another side trend.
Boombox's clientele is the opposite of the C-list celebs and drunken footballers' wives who infest the supposedly swanky clubs of the West End, but the door code is strict. "The general rule is you've got to be with a regular to get in. It makes it a communal club night, where everyone is connected, unlike these superclubs where everybody is a stranger," said Allan. Vogue's Edward Enninful and star makeup artist Pat McGrath (who takes her own camera) have a permanent open sesame. "It's really influential," said Enninful. "Some of my stories start there."
Next up: When London fashion week's after-hour festivities wrap, the Boombox phenomenon will be airlifted to Milan. For one night only, Hoxton's regulars will get to light up Italian fashion week, courtesy of a Pitti Immagine trade show initiative. Gray old Milano should brace itself.
ah boombox. i loathe it but some of the looks pictured here are cool. I like the idea of a place where you can go and just have a crazy face on but in reality it really isn't that 'friendly'. I'm not sure how i feel about the oversaturation/airbrushed quality of the photos but it's interesting. edited to say the first picture on the right of the girl with the headband makes me think of our own susie
the only one i really like is the balenciaga reference one from the 4th March. ruthie they prob. don't look as good in person since these photos are heavily saturated/retouched. though some of them i'm sure do.