Fashion: English eccentrics

Ready to wear

Street fashion in the late Nineties has been dominated by American "lifestyle" designers whose sole intention is to make us look identical (Calvin Klein, I will obey!) and we still insist on dressing down, even though it's so passe. So, it will come as a relief that the Great British Eccentric is alive and well and living in style. David Turner, a photography lecturer who practises what he teaches, has captured on film more than 60 people from all walks of life, who have individual, uncompromising taste in both their clothes and surroundings. He has photographed them in their kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms just to prove they are just like anybody else. They just dress differently - that's all.

David Turner's photographs will be on display in his exhibition "Ordinary People" until 20 December at the Photofusion Gallery, 17a Electric Lane, Brixton, London SW9 8LA, 0171 738 5774. Prints will be on sale for pounds 135 plus VAT.

Nikki Lynes, 24, unemployed, and Mike Lynes, 34, graphic design student: Niki: "I got this dress in Camden Market for pounds 18 four years ago. I love the Sixties look but now I'm more into the Twiggy look. The Sixties had more to offer in fashion and design. Now fashion just copies the Sixties and Seventies but they keep getting the proportions wrong and I don't like that." Mike: "The Sixties was the most delicious period for men's fashion this century, because men were able to be unconcerned with machismo. My wife picked up this suit from a charity shop. I don't know how much it cost. We have had serious stick in the past because of what we wear, but now it's more accepted. I have noticed they are selling four-button tight suits with velvet collars in the expensive menswear shops in Covent Garden."

Sioux Heather, 27, New-Age shop manager: "This full-length dress came from a tiny little shop in Glastonbury. It cost me about pounds 25. I have gone back to a more Gothic style now, but my style changes a lot. Everything I own is long and flowing and I like black and purple, silver jewellery and ballet shoes. It looks quite dramatic. I am interested in fashion. I like watching what's on TV and reading women's magazines. I like the way Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood dress because they are a bit different. They don't follow the herd."

Natalie Lay, 23, childminder, pictured with her boyfriend Mark Williams: "This nightdress is from Next. I don't have a particular style. I quite like heavy metal and rockish music, so sometimes I'll wear long black dresses, but I don't wear anything that will catch the eye. I don't really follow fashion but I've always been into Pre-Raphaelite dresses. We do quite like the Victorian style but it is more of a house style than going out dressed in Victorian clothes. I bought a pair of boots by Kangol last week. I've never heard of them, but my young nephews say they are quite trendy."

Olivia Barnard-Firth, 49, costumier: "I made this costume for an exhibition at Syon House and it was worn by a Marie Antoinette model, so I was allowed to be really opulent and enjoy myself! It is made from silk and lace and the flowers are handmade. I try to use fabrics that were available then, so a lot of the time my costumes will look antique. I wear what other people would term theatrical costumes all the time and I always have a matching parasol and shoes. We all know how dreary life can be, so why shouldn't we make life beautiful?"

Marilyn Coleman, 38, club hostess: "My boots are from the Magic Shoe Company. They cost about pounds 160. A girlfriend made the cobweb skirt for me when she was at Central St Martin's College of Art and the bodice costs about pounds 250 from Vivienne Westwood. The hat is Edwardian and I put the feathers in it. I adore clothes, but don't like to buy designer clothes unless they are very underground. I don't go for Versace or anything like that. I have my own property company, so during the day I wear business suits. But as a club hostess, I'm totally outrageous."

Joshua Sofaer, 25, teacher and live artist: "I made this outfit myself for a performance that I first did a few months ago. I sing a duet with myself in soprano and baritone. I bought the dress from a Cancer Research shop for pounds 7.50 and the tuxedo and trousers I just had lying around. The man's outfit is all stitched together and the whole thing zips up the front. The costume is a means to an end - most of the time I dress very ordinarily. I find drag performance quite difficult and this was a bit tongue in cheek."

Marina Kirkland, 34, medical secretary/administrator: "I bought the dress fabric from a local shop in the Elephant and Castle, but I got the headdress from Senegal. I usually wear an African headwrap when I go to work, but it often depends on what the weather is like. Normally, I am quite laid back about clothes; I'm not a great follower of fashion and tend to wear my own style. I might go out in a mixture of African and Indian clothing with some big boots or something. I don't really jump on any bandwagon fashion-wise."

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