City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Black British Style exhibition, London

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Went to the Black British Style exhibition at the V&A last weekend. Thought it was pretty bloody good overall. There are some great original exhibits in there as well as some great archive photos and footage. The accompanying text is fairly good, though as is often the case, seemed a little cautious. I also thought it the exhibition was rather small given the £6 entrance fee, but I generally feel that after every exhibition I attend these days. (Am I just getting bigger or something?)

Moreover, despite a few great photos, I’d have liked to have seen more of the clothes in situ and particularly more archive footage. We were given the well-worn yet still fabulous Pathé shots of West Indians arriving at cold windswept British docks in the ’50s, and a fantastic late ’70s ‘home movie’ by Don Letts. There was an engaging film playing in the exhibition’s ‘cinema’, but I’d liked to have seen actual footage scattered in and around the clothes more. There must be so much great footage – you’d think TOTP alone could contribute a few hours. I know full well how (ludicrously) much it costs to incorporate video in exhbitions, but the clothes lose a little of their vibrancy left hanging.

Still, there’s some wonderfully evocative stuff: a wall of Goldie’s trainers and hoodies; 2-tone Pork Pie hats and gold batty riders; <a href="″>Guyanese dresses and rastafari canes.

I sneaked a couple of shots. This display is near the start, taking style from the 60s to the 70s. Check the Shaft-style leather coat!

Black British style exhibition

And though this is possibly the ‘least British’ thing in there – whatever that means – I couldn’t resist a covert snap of this awesome Public Enemy outfit (bonus point: spot Dizzee Rascal’s Evisu jeans in the background):

Public Enemy clobber

Black British Style exhibition. At the V&A museum, London, until 16 January 2005.


4 responses to “Black British Style exhibition, London”

  1. Carol Tulloch Avatar
    Carol Tulloch

    Perhaps a little late, but your page was sent to me. I was the co-curator of this exhibition. Thank you for your positive comments.
    We would have liked more film footage, I found wonderful material on fashion shows, street scenes from different periods etc. but I cannot begin to tell you how much film footage from institutions cost, and we just did not have the budget. The Pathe film footage was used because 1. the image of the asian-caribbean guy jumping over the rails summed up the youthfulness of some of the people arriving; and 2. the image of mother and her children leaving the dock and walking into England is not that often seen, and was wonderful to give a sense of walkinig to their new ‘home’.
    All the best


  2. evisu Avatar

    Thanks for sharing those interesting photos.. the style was unique. way back on style from the 60s to the 70s.very attractive. keep posting!


  3. evisu Avatar

    IT seems your post tackles an interesting topic. i love the combination of the style.. very fashionable. keep it up!


  4. Matyi Avatar

    Pogus Caesar exhibition coming to British Music Experience in London.


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