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Room at the top

June 16, 2010

Pimpernel popped down to London to visit the V&A the other day. You’ll no doubt be surprised to read that he walked straight past the Fashion galleries. Instead he made his way on up to the 3rd floor to the Theatre and Performance gallery. (This gallery opened last year, but Pimpernel travels by coach so it’s taken him a while to get there…).

There was one particular outfit that was on Pimpernel’s must-see list. Adam Ant (of New Wave 80s group Adam and the Ants) has always been a firm favourite of Pimpernel’s, for his music and his sense of style. (Is there one heroic historical look that Adam has left unworn? He’s been a Hussar, Pirate, Dandy Highwayman and the list goes on.) But it’s the outfit from Adam’s Prince Charming video that the V&A has on display. (And it was in good company, flanked by a spangled white catsuit of Mick Jagger’s and a colourful creation worn by Elton John.) The lighting was low- so please forgive the grainy photos (Mr. Gainsborough and his easel being Unavailable at short notice…)

Adam was responsible for the band’s style direction, and designed his own outfits:

I liked lots of rich textures and colours, loads of gold and silver – I made a lot of clothes myself: 18th-century men’s shirts are the sexiest shirts a man can wear.

(From here.)

Adam has also given all the band’s costumes to the V&A. A generous move indeed.

The first thing that struck Pimpernel was how well made the outfit looks. The V&A museum staff have also commented on how unusually well made it is for a stage costume. (Check out this interview with Adam about his costumes, which contains better shots of the pieces of the Prince Charming costume: )

The jacket has a beautiful shape- very broad and structured in the shoulder and nipped in at the waist (a perfect 1980s meets c.1780s!) with long tails that turn back on themselves. The shape of the standup collar and lapels frames the cravat to perfection.

Yes, so there’s touches of furnishing fabric and lurex. And those silver breeches! But they work. The look is a masterpiece of glam, with quirky little details- ribbons, rosettes, that patent blue belt, the Tricolore sash. And did you notice those amazing patent buckle boots?

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