iStyle: The Blitz spirit

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A new book tells the story of a ground-breaking fashion magazine, says Naomi Attwood

Anyone believing that Eighties fashion was only about padded shoulders and Sloane Rangers in pie-crust blouses will find enlightenment between the pages of a new coffee-table book that celebrates the 10-year reign of a particularly inventive style magazine, Blitz.

As Seen In Blitz: Fashioning ’80s Style recounts the untold story of a creative revolution in London.

Simon Tesler and Carey Labovitch founded the independent style magazine in 1980, while still at university, Labovitch having spotted “a gap in the market for a magazine… that covered all the areas that my generation was interested in, from fashion to music, film, theatre, photography, design.” The book reprints the best of Blitz’s fashion stories, all but one styled by the fashion editor, Iain R Webb, the book’s author.

Each one is annotated with memories from the protagonists – photographers, models and designers – which bring the images vividly to life. They range from DJ and writer Princess Julia – who at the time was modelling for Webb’s inventive DIY-meets-couture shoots, that were as likely to feature bits of tinfoil and duvets as they were Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood designs – to photographers such as Nick Knight and David Hiscock.

The hefty contributors section runs the gamut of high-fashion designers from household names such as Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith, Stephen Jones and Manolo Blahnik.

A volume for the real connoisseur of both fashion and independent publishing, in this publication every picture told a story and clichés were banned. Or, as Nick Knight put it; “[Blitz] was a really important part of the ’80s and it was wonderful that it included me and Bodymap, Rachel Auburn and the rest.

There wasn’t a magazine that reflected that world. i-D was busy being reportage and The Face was being The Face.” And Vogue? “Well, Vogue was going its own way and was full of shoulder pads.”

A weekend with BLITZ magazine: 18 - 19 May, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London SW1, ica.org.uk

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