Currently reading : Derek Ridgers 78-87
Derek Ridgers is the photographer who can without argument be thought of as one of the most important social documentarians of twentieth century British subculture. His latest book 78-87 London Youth has been recently released and captures year by year the characters he met around Britain from 1978 to 1987.
His other publication of rebellious youths in When We Were Young has become something of an oddity in trying to claim it since its release in 1999 so this new book is a welcome arrival and will surely become a collectors item some time in the near future.
What Ridgers has done with his photographs and this book is capture the true essence of the development of style for subcultures such as the New Romantics, Punks, Skinheads and Acid House without any pretensions. This books allows us to look directly at how people were adorning their bodies at a time when subculture was so socially relevant and new. Notions of the subcultures captured in this books have been so regurgitated and recycled since these photographs were taken that when thinking of what these subcultures actually are has become strangely blurred. These photographs show what young people were doing to their bodies in the most organic and honest way, it shows young people physically meeting to express their identities in places where they felt comfortable. Its almost easy to forget that the way these people were dressing was completely new at the time. From the darkest basements of Soho clubs to the greyest streets of suburban London Ridgers has presented us with a book that exemplifies the importance of self creation and subculture. It is only now that we can reflect on how poignant and influential these people were in regards to fashion and subcultural history as we constantly recycle notions of what we think is subversive.
Some more familiar faces appear in the book before their rise to fame such as Jeffrey Hinton, Judy Blame, Boy George, John Galliano and Scarlett however the book is littered by some of the most intriguing faces and styles over the 160 pages. Theres also a fantastic essay by film maker John Maybury at the beginning.
You can now buy the book online here or in IDEA books in Dover Street Market.