Super Sharp: new exhibition explores the style, sound and rave culture of the nineties

Club night ‘Heat’ held at Hastings Pier, May 1997, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Head over to Fashion Space Gallery next month to check out Super Sharp, an exhibition curated by Tory Turk and jointly conceived with Saul Milton of Chase & Status (remember them?).

It's the first instalment of RTRN II JUNGLE; a series of exhibitions and events documenting the styles and sounds of British rave culture in the nineties.

Super Sharp explores the appropriation of luxury Italian designer brands in the underground music scenes of Jungle and UK Garage. Versace, Moschino, Iceberg and D&G are examples of labels that ruled the dance floor in the nineties. Moschino, in particular, became synonymous with the look associated with that era.

The title Super Sharp embodies this attitude to dressing, visible in black culture before the emergence of these iconic UK subcultures. It also draws reference from the 1996 DJ Zinc track of the same title. Saul Milton says: "I’ve been collecting and wearing Moschino since 1997/8. Today, I look and dress as I did back then, ponytail, jewellery and tapered, tailored vintage Moschino and Reebok Classics.

"My collection is largely clothes that you would have seen in the raves and the clubs in the '90s and early 2000s. It’s a collection of nostalgia, of times when we appropriated other cultures and twisted and turned them into our own style, our own look. Rudeboy culture was everything and fast forward to 2018, it’s come full circle."

The scenes will be recreated through memories, constructing a collective nostalgia of the time. Narrated by quotes from musicians such as PJ & Smiley (Shut up & Dance), Navigator, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, Goldie and Chase & Status, who all played formative roles in the rise of these subcultures.

Their personal memories shed light on why designer clothing was first embraced by Jungle ravers and then made famous by UK Garage. By combining the music, testimonials and the original garments, it reveals why high-end Italian labels were so important to the cultural and style history of both genres.

Tory Turk adds: "Today there has been a revival of interest in the music, style and culture of that time. Jungle and UK Garage took place before the emergence of the Internet and history is extensively documented online. The Internet’s version can be subverted, the overlap between Jungle and UK Garage style can become confused. A more truthful picture is revealed through the voices of people who were actually there at the time."

Editorial features on the rave scene from the magazine archives of The Face, i-D and Dazed will also be displayed alongside never-before-seen outtake clubbing shots from underground rave magazine Eternity. Super Sharp at London College of Fashion, UAL, will run from 1 February until 21 April 2018.

Photograph by Mark Alesky, taken at club night ‘Thunder & Joy’ held at RAW, December 1994

Photograph by Mark Alesky, taken at club night ‘Thunder & Joy’ held at RAW, December 1994

Club night ‘Innovation’ held at Camden Palace, 1996, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Club night ‘Innovation’ held at Camden Palace, 1996, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Hyper D at club night ‘Roast’, October 1995, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Hyper D at club night ‘Roast’, October 1995, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Goldie at the ‘VIP Awards’ for Jungle artists, winner of Best Album, 1996

Goldie at the ‘VIP Awards’ for Jungle artists, winner of Best Album, 1996

Club night ‘Heat’ held at Hastings Pier, May 1997, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Club night ‘Heat’ held at Hastings Pier, May 1997, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Club night ‘One Nation’, September 1997, photograph by Tristan O’Neill

Club night ‘One Nation’, September 1997, photograph by Tristan O’Neill