Mapping out Bodymap

Mapping out Bodymap

People will probably feel that I have no right to be writing about something that is way before my time and that I had no physical contact with but from this very old V magazine interview and the accompanying images and this YouTube video of Fashion Aid in 1985, I am clamouring for Bodymap, a British label of the 80’s founded by David Holah and Stevie Stewart, that ultimately failed because of over-hype and under-funding (two failures of a lot of British independent designers…), to return and prosper in today’s enthusiastic fashion climate.  It’s hard to find the collections documented online but with names like "Barbie Takes a Trip". "Querelle Meets Olive Oil" and "The Cat in the Hat", I know I want to see more…

The archive pieces styled by Tabitha Simmons, and shot by Craig McDean here for V Magazine 27 highlight the resiliance of the pieces.  As in, I would wear any of these outfits straight away if I had the chance.  From the insightful interview with Stevie Stewart, it sounds like Bodymap’s failing was its inability to build a successful business model and it was through no fault of the clothes.  Perhaps their initial dreams of building a Bodymap empire are too far-fetched but I’m certain that a rail of Bodymap sitting in any department store or boutique today would fly.  Innovative cut stretch fabric pieces, sweatshirting with lycra, pseudo-ethnic prints, misplaced addition of volume…. I want me some of that even without the the attachment of the Bodymap label.   

Also, how much fun is everyone having in this Bodymap ‘catwalk’ show as part of 1985’s Fashion Aid (could we possibly handle a 21st century Fashion Aid..except minus any self-righteous U2 Bono affiliations…)?


Leave a comment
  1. lLibertygirl

    2007-12-31 at 1:54 PM

    Those designers of the mid 80’s – Workers for Freedom, John Flett (RIP), Bodymap, Richmond Cornejo, Rifat Ozbek, Katherine Hamnett et al have been influential to a degree we could never, ever have believed at the time. I was a (very) young teenager then with subs to Blitz & to Vogue (I blame my Aunt who owned Chelsea Cobbler) and these are the people who inspired me to become a fashion editor & writer. There’s no reason why they shldn’t be inspiring you, too, my love. Happy New Year! LLG xx ps yes, you hit the nail on the head: Bodymap were brought down by their crap finances

  2. Suzanna

    2007-12-31 at 3:54 PM

    HAPPY NEW YEAR, Susie!
    Bodymap is what was GOOD about the eighties. I agree that it would be marvelous to have something like that now–and as you point out, there is versatility that would work just as easily today.
    The trouble with the eighties–and what people seem to miss when speaking of eighties fashion–is how the revolutionary designs were translated for the mass market, and that includes the shoulder pad.

  3. bigglassesgirl

    2007-12-31 at 11:03 PM

    I love the styling, and there should be no qualms about writing about the label. We idolize the 60s, 70s, and designer movements made then, so why not this?

  4. Drusilla

    2008-01-01 at 9:02 AM

    The pictures are great…I love the way they’ve been styled, but I do wish I knew more about the designers (I’d only heard about Bodymap in a very vague fashion before…it took me ages to get that it was a label and not technology!). So thanks for the information, Susie.

  5. Drusilla

    2008-01-01 at 9:14 AM

    And a very happy new year to you, Susie!

  6. Natalie

    2008-01-01 at 1:22 PM

    I love the beautiful photos.
    Happy New Year!

  7. cate

    2008-01-01 at 4:05 PM

    i think you do have a right to write about something that was, as you say, before your time. i do it all the time, i talk, write, and do collages and albums and everything about the 60s and 70s, even though i wasn’t born back then. but seriously, i should’ve been born in 1950 ^^
    every decade has something magical, and so did the 80s…
    Happy (belated) New Year Susie!

  8. kitty

    2008-01-01 at 9:19 PM

    I have a bunch of vintage Bodymap that I’ve picked up over the years- when I used to wear it around 5 years ago I got quite a few crazy looks but it does look incredibly fresh and of the moment now. The patterns were totally innovative as was their use of use of lycra- I have the sexiest, tightest black printed pencil skirt and matching top- so gorgeous…

  9. WendyB

    2008-01-01 at 10:10 PM

    I remember Body Map well!

  10. rollergirl

    2008-01-02 at 11:53 PM

    Man I loved Bodymap! I was also a wee nipper when they were at their peak and could only dream of owning even a lowly Bodymap sticker. I still have the Vogue tears though, and all my Honey magazines …*sighs wistfully*

  11. beebs

    2008-01-04 at 4:11 AM

    there is a store in Taiwan i think called Bodymap that I loved. I wanted if its related?

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  13. Judith Watt

    2011-10-18 at 6:13 PM

    Dear Susie, Great to see Body Map on your blog. The big difference then was that Body Map, John Flett, Richmond Cornejo, Crolla, Workers for Freedom, Mark and Syrie et al did not have FUNDING from the BFC and a unit dedicated to ‘Emerging Talent’ in the way that young designers do now … which lasts for a finite amount of time, after which nobody hears from those designers again. Robert Cary Williams? Fintan Walshe? Pearce Fionda?John McKitterick? Body Map had big orders but no money for production. Simple as that. But their concept of changing the body through volume and cut, using distorting prints and sportswear fabric with the new Lycra was revolutionary. Note too their collaborations with Michael Clark and John Maybury … designers do not work in this way any more. In those days, NO ONE had any money, and the currency was talent. People took risks, Paris and glossy fashion titles were the enemy, just as it was in the 1960s. By the same token, British art colleges took people on TALENT, not on academic qualifications, and saddling students with huge debts. What you are watching is joy, optimism, iconcoclasm and sheer innovation. They – and Flett and Rifat and John Galliano paved the way for Lee McQueen. It is amazing that they are so little known by fashion students today – or taught by their tutors. Today Thomas Persson and I are interviewing Stevie and David for ACNE Paper, and they have just had a great show in the fashion museum in Chile. Here’s hoping there will be some response. Well done Susie, your instincts are right.

  14. susie_bubble

    2011-10-19 at 2:35 AM

    Judith: Thank you so much for a very detailed reply. It’s interesting how you cite names like Cary Williams and McKitterick – I often question the cycle of young talent that London Fashion Week goes through…
    I agree with everything you say thougha bout Body Map’s innovation and their sheer exhuberance which is evident in their work….
    I think in general, we have a very short term memory when it comes to Britain’s fashion scene. Even names like Robert Cary Williams and Joe Caseley Hayford (although his name lives on in his current father-and-son label) are fast diminishing in people’s knowledge because of this rampant hype machine of new designer talent (well, I suppose this blog contributes to that quick cycle of information…)

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