In celebration of London Fashion Week and the impact of London in revolutionising popular style, Octavia – a social housing and care provider based in London – is showcasing creative digital work from young people involved in its celebrated ‘Birth of Cool’ youth project.
Birth of Cool was inspired by the youth quake revolutionary culture of the Kings Road from the 50’s through to the 80’s, curating how it became a rebellious creative fashion hub which galvanized a sweeping sartorial trend that spread across the globe.
A final ‘exhibition’ of the work of young people involved goes on display to the public through a website launched on 5 March.
Birth of Cool is an exploration of how the Kings Road moved from being the birth of a new ‘swinging’ London in the 1960s into a fashion melting pot that exploded into the Punk movement of the 1970s.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council, the project comprises film, photography, and design and explores the area’s unique history of sound, look, and attitude through the eyes of today’s youth.
It features two broadcast-standard documentaries that were filmed, directed, and produced in the area by young west Londoners, including the award-winning ‘Punk Road’ that was selected for five film festivals worldwide.
A wide range of artists, designers, and creatives feature in the documentary including Terry Jones, co-founder of I-D magazine and previous Art director for British Vogue.
Other highlights include:
- a fashion concept video featuring punk inspired t-shirt designs and filmed in west London’s trendy Portobello Road
- a digital design and photography exhibit debuted in Knightsbridge
- a spoken word art installation inspired by the World’s End Estate, a brutalist piece of architecture standing at the end of the Kings road that is in stark aesthetic and social contrast to the fashionable area it borders
Octavia’s 18-month project enabled the young people, many seeking a career in creative industries, to work closely with leading design and media experts, gaining invaluable experience and industry knowledge, as well as opportunities to develop their technical and creative skills.
Leading fashion designer Suzie Zabrowska said: “Avant-garde fashion burned bright on the Kings Road from the 1960s to the 1980s, a time and place synonymous with teen rebellion and counter-culture movements.
“As punk became the soundtrack for a non-conformist generation – the punk look became the uniform. Birth of Cool invokes the revolutionary spirit of the era, capturing and preserving this iconic time and illuminating it for a new generation.”
Tommy Edwards, Digital Media and Remote Projects manager at Octavia, said: “The creativity generated by Birth of Cool perfectly epitomizes this vibrant period of trailblazing expression.
“I have been so impressed with the professionalism of the young people involved and the quality and originality of their creations.
“They absorbed an impressive array of digital media skills along the way. It’s been fantastic to see their confidence and their ambition for the future grow.”
A host of events have taken place as part of the project, including fashion expert Amber Butchart’s ‘Unclothing the fashion history of the King’s Road’ masterclass.
Hosted at Octavia’s flagship community hub, the Reed, Butchart’s talk explained how the area’s melting pot of artists ignited an evolution of truly original clothes design in the 1960s that became entwined with a revolutionary youth culture.
The documentaries, designs, oral histories, and photographs are available to view on the project’s website.
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