Fashion: Body Map's route back from the Eighties: The fashion range which took London by storm 10 years ago has resurfaced and is once again making its mark in clubland culture, as Tamsin Blanchard reports

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Body Map, fashion's toast of the mid-Eighties, has returned from obscurity. At the newly opened Shop (as it is called) in Soho, the B-Basic diffusion range of recycled, reconstructed clothing is selling well, alongside hip young labels such as Stussy. 'It's designer but funky, and relevant right now,' says Max Carik, co-owner of Shop.

The B-Basic range for men and women includes cropped jumpers, double shirts, A-line blanket mini-skirts in pastel colours, and jumpers with shirt sleeves attached. Some incorporate trademark Body Map prints from previous collections. Prices are under pounds 50.

Until now, Stevie Stewart and David Holah have never achieved great financial success. But that looks set to change; they are talking to Japanese companies about licensing deals which would provide financial support and marketing. Body Map will be high-profile again: the singer Tori Amos wore Body Map on her last tour, and there are plans for a Body Map range for a London club, Ministry of Sound, for next winter.

Stewart and Holah took London by storm in 1982, and the hype surrounding their label continued in the first half of the decade. Collections such as their 1985 Barbie Takes a Trip Around Nature's Cosmic Curves shocked American buyers. The show featured trippy lights, models dressing at the side of the catwalk, and shiny swimwear that looked like rubber; it proved to be about nine years before its time. Another show, Family, showed models of all ages, shapes and sizes, with Stewart and Holah's mothers walking down the catwalk alongside singer Helen Terry.

The label was also among the first to exploit London's thriving clubland culture and design specifically for young people. The B- Basic range was one of the original diffusion lines, taking designs from the main collection and producing them in simpler fabrics to make them more affordable to a younger market. For about five years, Body Map was It.

'At one point Body Map completely dominated,' says fashion stylist Keith Hepple, who was a student at the height of Body Map mania and would spend a third of his term's grant on a Body Map sweater. In 1986, the company's finances hiccupped and its creators retreated. The stall they started in Camden Market, north London, when they left college has been a permanent fixture ever since, selling B-Basic to a loyal following.

Now, after years of freelancing for companies such as Benetton and Fiorucci in Italy, Stewart and Holah are still brimming with new ideas. As Stewart says: 'We could make a lot of money for someone - we're commercial as well as directional.'

Body Map's clothes have always worked in the club scene. Its regular parties in the Eighties were legendary and are now being held again, every six weeks. Last Monday at the 'Lash Bash', some old faces met up again along with younger ones (including designer- of-the-moment Alexander McQueen).

'We still have the Body Map family, but we're not trying to relive the Eighties,' says Stewart. 'The music is different now, as is style and fashion. The drag thing that was big in New York then has become more mainstream. People are dressing up again.'

For the 'Lash Bash', Holah dressed in drag and jumped out of a 6ft birthday cake to sing 'Happy Birthday', Marilyn Monroe- style, to a friend, Stella Stein.

Stewart and Holah do not plan to make a return to the catwalk: they have already made their mark, when Michael Clark danced down the runway for them. 'We'd rather concentrate on making clothes now,' says Stewart. 'The only difference is that David and I have got older,' she adds, 'so the clothes will be more sophisticated.'

B-Basic by Body Map, to order from

071-485 1988.

(Photograph omitted)

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