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The Notting Hill Carnival is a time to celebrate the exuberance of London’s West Indian and Caribbean community and their enduring influence on city life. Whether it’s music or fashion, inspiration from the Caribbean and beyond to Brazil, all offer a fashion focus for our windows. London’s street culture has catapulted the city into the world’s consciousness, with an array of tribal and rebel youth styles.
Notting Hill is always a good place to watch a parade of urban style along with the more flamboyant and imaginative costumes designed by the marching bands and dancers. The current Oxfam Dalston window features the alpha fashion Carnival stars from Brazilian dancers to a Grace Jones-inspired mannequin in Issey Miyake-style gold pleated dress. Grace Jones remains a true fashion icon whose My Jamaican Guy and Pull Up To The Bumper are personal carnival faves. We also see a preppy jazz fan in street wear, and a fez-wearing fashionista in gold and black – Spike Lee and Pierre & Gilles are the influences for our two males. (Goods pictured here will be on sale from Saturday 29 August.)
Previously these windows have saluted the punky reggae attitude of Ari Up and the Slits, an iconic all-girl punk band where each member had her own personal style. The band’s individual no-nonsense attitude of taking no prisoners inspired a generations of musicians. I loved them live, and their mish-mash cultural references. The window featured these dread-locked mannequins with Afrocentric style and accessories.
The Slits mixed reggae with punk on their ’79 debut album The Cut, produced by Dennis Bovell. Bob Marley acknowledged the affinity of punk as rebel music by releasing the song Punky Reggae Party in 1977. The influence of Carnival black culture on white British youth and the growing underground music scene remains strong. Now however trends do flow in the other direction with two-step, grime and home-grown British artists booming out of the Notting Hill sound systems. Rudimental, Disclosure, Clean Bandit and Dizzie Rascal have achieved great success, with dance music more diverse than ever at this major European street festival.