5 February 2018

Return to Jungle

As the first of a series of exhibitions entitled RTRN II JUNGLE, Super Sharp explores the Italian designer clothes – Gucci, Versace, Moschino, Iceberg and D&G to name a few – that were popularised through Garage music in the late 90s, but actually instigated by Jungle ravers earlier in the decade. Commanding a title that embodies both an attitude to dressing and references the 1996 DJ Zinc track of the same name, Super Sharp is curated by Tory Turk and Chase & Status’s Saul Milton and elicits a collective sense of nostalgia. It's only fitting at a time where financial downturn, social unrest, little belief in the government and their failings, and a general feeling of uncertainty could be said to mirror the social climate of the early 90s.

An appreciation of cultures and an eclectic mix of Italian luxury designers became synonymous with this decade’s preference for Jungle and UK garage. Initially emerging in South London, with roots in 1980s New York, the musical scene imbued an air of rebellion and a style of dance that became iconic of the clubbing attitude of the time. The culture of this scene created an image of UK subcultures which has seen a recent re-emergence in popularity, offering the opportunity to present the stories from this era to a new generation.

The scenes are recreated through memories and narrated by quotes from musicians such as PJ & Smiley (Shut Up & Dance), Navigator, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, Goldie and Chase & Status, who all played formative roles in the rise of these subcultures. Their personal memories shed light on why designer clothing was first embraced by Jungle ravers and then made famous by UK Garage. By combining the music, testimonials and the original garments, it reveals why high-end Italian labels were so important to the cultural and style history of both genres. Editorial features on the rave scene from the magazine archives of The Face, i-D and Dazed are also displayed alongside never-before-seen outtake clubbing shots from underground rave magazine Eternity.

The next instalment in the RTRN II JUNGLE exhibition will carry on where Super Sharp left off and delve deeper into the ties between street, style and culture, housing Saul Milton's entire 1500 piece vintage Moschino collection. There will also be DJ tours, documentaries and music being released all under the RTRN II JUNGLE banner. This introductory exhibition stands as a taster for a much wider exploration of jungle culture with the intention of making it more accessible to an audience that wouldn’t have necessarily experienced the scenes first-hand.

Speaking on the dynamics between nostalgia and social media, Tory Turk added: "Nostalgia is such an interesting construct now. There is a generation of young people who have never lived in a time without social media and such quick access to the imagery and sounds of the past. Young people love time traveling and exploring the past using the internet and social media as a historical reference tool. The generations that do remember a time before iPhones hold this pre-internet time dear to them, and it is this idea of a collective nostalgia for the UK jungle and garage scenes that Super Sharp explores."

Super Sharp at London College of Fashion, UAL, will run from 1 February until 21 April 2018.