BODYMAP - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia



British design team

Founded: in 1982 by Stevie Stewart and David Holah. Stewart born in London, 1958; studied at Barnet College. Holah born in London, 1958; studied at North Oxfordshire College of Art. Both studied fashion at Middlesex Polytechnic, 1979-82; graduation collection purchased by Browns, London. Company History: Company expanded in 1985 to include Bodymap men's and women's collection, B-Basic junior line, Bodymap Red Label, and Bodymap swimwear; designed costumes for Michael Clark's No Fire Escape in Hell ballet, 1986; fell on hard times and closed, late 1980s. Awards: Martini Young Fashion award, 1983; Bath Museum of Costume Dress of the Year award, 1984.

Publications

By BODYMAP:

Articles

Stewart, Stevie, "Mapping the Future: Talking 'Bout My Generation," in Fashion '86, London 1985.

On BODYMAP:

Books

McDermott, Catherine, Street Style: British Design in the 1980s, London 1987.

Coleridge, Nicholas, The Fashion Conspiracy, London 1988.

Evans, Caroline, and Minna Thornton, Women and Fashion: A New Look, London 1989.

Articles

Warner, Marina, "Counter-Couture," in Connoisseur (London), May

1984.

"Bodymap: British BCBG Version B.D.," in Elle (London), September 1984.

Jones, Mark, "Followers of Fashion," in Creative Review (London), December 1984.

Cleave, Maureen, "Leading Them a Dance," in the Observer (London), 18 May 1986.

Mower, Sarah, "Off the Map," in The Guardian (London), 5 June 1986.

Jeal, Nicola, "Bodymap," in the Observer, 12 June 1986.

Tredre, Roger, "Body Style," in Fashion Weekly (London), 28 September 1989.

Elliot, Tom, and Robin Duff, "Rise and Fall," in Blitz (London), November 1989.

McRobbie, Angela, "Falling Off the Catwalk," in New Statesman & Society, 7 June 1996.

Fallon, James, "Shop Spawns Shopgirl Tops," in Women's Wear Daily, 25 November 1998.

Birns, Amanda, et al., "What's Hot…Shopgirl Hooks Up with Playboy," in Women's Wear Daily, 19 June 2000.

***

"Barbie Takes a Trip,"or "Querelle Meets Olive Oil," or even "The Cat in the Hat Takes a Rumble with the Techno Fish," are just some of the bizarre titles of Bodymap collections. The company, a male-female partnership between Middlesex Polytechnic graduates David Holah and Stevie Stewart, was one of the brightest design teams to emerge during the 1980s. By the middle of the decade London was being promoted by the media as a trendy hothouse of bright young things. Bodymap was regarded as being amongst the brightest of all, turning the Establishment upside-down with wild, young, and unconventional clothes. Fashion editors were clamoring for more, declaring Bodymap to be the hottest fashion label of the decade.

Founded in 1982, the name of the company was inspired by Italian artist Enrico Job, who took over a thousand photographs of every part of his anatomy, then collaged them together, creating a two-dimensional version of a three-dimensional object—in other words, a body map. A similar philosophy was adapted in Stewart and Holah's approach to pattern making and garment construction. Prints, knits, silhouettes, and shapes were restructured and reinvented to map the body. Stretch clothes had holes in unexpected places, so the emphasis was transferred from one place to another. Pieces of flesh were amalgamated with pieces of fabric in an effort to explore new areas of the body, previously considered unflattering.

Awarded the Individual Clothes Show prize as the "Most Exciting and Innovative Young Designers of 1983," Bodymap clothes were always for the young, avant-garde, and daring. Working predominantly in black, white, and cream, a familiar theme involved the layering of prints and textures on top of one another, to create an unstructured look, redefining traditional body shapes, overemphasizing shapeliness or shapelessness so both the overweight and under-weight, plain or beautiful, could wear and be comfortable in an outfit.

Bodymap described itself in the 1980s as being a young company employing other young people to mix creativity with commerce. They worked very closely with textile designer Hilde Smith, who created many Bodymap prints and helped bridge gaps between fashion and textile design. Film and videographer John Maybury was responsible for Bodymap's outrageous fashion show videos, featuring dancer Michael Clark, singers Boy George and Helen Terry, and performance artist Leigh Bowery. Photographer David La Chappelle was responsible for many of the visual stills used in magazines.

While still at Middlesex Polytechnic, Bodymap recognized the importance of moving in a circle of talented, creative people. Holah and Stewart were part of the young 1980s generation attracting worldwide attention for London as a vibrant center for creative energy and ideas, not only in fashion but music, painting, video, and dance. Unfortunately for Bodymap, the end of the 1980s proved the end of the road of the once-hipster design house. Tough times and tougher competition brought the firm down, at a time when smaller British fashion design companies failed more often than not.

After Bodymap's demise, Stevie Stewart consulted for several companies then went on to design a new line of chic tops called Shopgirl for Max Kyrie and Pippa Brooks, owner of the Shop boutique on Brewer Street in London. The new collection debuted in 1998, alongside a Shopgirl jewelry line. By 2000 the Stewart-designed Shopgirl line was sold not only at Shop but at Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdale's in New York City. The Shopgirl collection expanded to include cardigans and lingerie, then teamed up with Playboy International to put the famous bunny logo on its hip leisurewear. Shop owners Brooks and Kyrie were in talks with Babycham in 2001 to put the popular fawn logo on Shopgirl threads and jewelry.

—KevinAlmond;

updated by NellyRhodes

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