ASOS Revive, one of ASOS' sub-collections that lifts elements from a past decade and brings them bang up to date has only been going for a few seasons. I thought I was going to see some 80s sequin frocks and 60s Twiggy a-like dresses for a few more seasons yet. I get to the S/S 12 presentation and find myself faced with a UV-light flooded space, enhancing the loose, white ensembles on the mannequin. These are the vaguely sporty and puffer-infused clothes that I remember older girls in the early-90s wearing on their way out to raves but obviously I was just a dorky eight year old looking on with my Mickey Mouse tracksuit set. Accessorised by chunky flat shoes, backpacks and utilitarian bags, high ponytails and giant hoop earrings, they were the girls that were too cool for school.
Guest designer Ebru Ercon brought all of that back with this S/S 12 ASOS Revive collection, which is launching on 23rd April. The film directed by Zaiba Jabbar gets an exclusive premiere here on the blog and I'm urging you to delve into it and all its accompanying background references just because it is a very specific energy of the late 80s/early 90s, something that perhaps many of us aren't familiar with. Certainly, given my age, I only caught the tail ends of this era when going out in London felt like a second "Summer of Love" and err... there was a lot of happy pill-popping. Watching the video gave me inklings of an energy that I think people tried to hold onto when I started going out but it was never as raw as what these videos convey. I feel like I've missed out somewhat but I'll stop short of going into rose-tinted retrogazing. I had a great time at my Ash/Charlatans gigs too. Not sure I ever danced as energetically as this though. Damn my awkward feet shuffle.
Ercon showed collections under her own name in the early noughts but has since focused on creative consultancy, becoming head designer of Adidas by Stella McCartney and helping Hussein Chalayan develop his range for Puma. Interestingly for ASOS, they haven't gone for a starry designer name to do this open collaboration with and instead have chosen someone is the real deal when it comes to sportswear. She also happens to be well versed in the period she is referencing in the collection so I asked her a few questions about reliving the delights of late 80s dance acts such as Inner City and Yazz through the video and the collection.
What visual references did you have for this ASOS Revive collection and for the accompanying film - I imagine there must have been a fair bit of 80s-90s YouTube searching going on?
Ebru Ercon: Yes! Lots of YouTube, my own record collection, and my memories of the time. The film was definitely inspired by music videos, most notably Inner City’s 1988 "Big Fun". My main influence was Mark Leckey's "Fiorucci made me Hardcore". It’s such a brilliant film. It gives me shivers. It depicts the raw energy of that time when you’re in your youth. You watch it and think about how annoying that youth culture has been appropriated into mass "Trends", Leckey's film really communicates this transition. The early 1990's was the last teen revolt as such.
Do you think this aesthetic of 90s fusion of trainers, mini backpacks and sportswear-fused clothing can be considered as vintage in the conventional sense of the word (given that the 90s wasn't that long ago)?
Ebru Ercon: I think vintage seems to be more "retro", really vintage is just a posh way of saying Second Hand. In its heyday, saying something was Vintage was a justification for paying more for something because it had been edited/sourced by designers or stylistsinto an "important or relevant piece". With the 1990's, because the clothing was accessible, cheap, bright, sporty and unisex in most cases it's really hard to think of a Benetton top or a Chipie Trainer in the same way as a 1940's Dior dress.
What is it about that period that you love?
Ebru Ercon: Well being a teenager in the late 80s and early 1990's means I am a bit nostalgic! It was really the energy and non branded aspect of everything. It was about people just doing something purely about music and dancing. Before the Criminal Justice bill you could pretty much set up Speakers anywhere and start a party. Girl's sexuality was also about attitude, you might have worn hot pants but with Nike Air Max and a baggy t-shirt, so it was a different kind of sexuality to now. You needed to dance and move, in warehouse spaces or fields, you definitely can't do that in 6inch heels and carrying an "it” bag! That created a lack of "preciousness". The clothes were about night time and worked with the lights and lasers at the raves. Then you had to get on coaches or night buses home so you would have hoodies or sweatshirts that could be tied around your waist or necks while dancing and then worn home. People talked about it being the Second Summer of Love-but really it was very different to the 1960's hippy movement. What I miss about London clubbing that definitely was there at that time is the mixture in the crowd. Now things can be quite "scene" based. At raves you would have all sorts of people, very mixed and that is what created the energy.
What was working with ASOS like, as someone who has mainly worked in high-end fashion?
Ebru Ercon: Loved it. The immediacy of Online is great. It's about a real girl that plays all sorts of characters on a daily basis. High end Fashion can be very "staid", too serious and forgetting about the actual girl in the clothes. You can get caught up in creating a vision that is very ego based. I loved working on something that had to covey an idea of an era, plus be contemporary, be worn and especially to be danced in!
ASOS Revive S/S 12 pieces available from the 23rd April and you can register interest here.
(CREDITS: Art Director/Producer - Anna Walker, Director - Zaiba Jabbar, Stylist/Casting - Madeleine Ostlie, DOP - Sara Deane, Sound design - Nic Nell (Casually Here), Set - Josephine Chime, Choreographer - Ianthe Wright)