Everything old is new again, all thanks and praise be to God.
Iain McKell‘s latest book, New Girl Order, revolves around a group of young female artists and performers, and they look like the raver- and hippy-kids I grew up around, all happenings and experimenting with clothes and hair and ways of being… I honestly thought smartphones and social media killed it all, and it’s good to see the kids still being the kids.
McKell has a history with subcultures. He photographed (and made books on) the Guardian Angels; Skinheads, Punks, Rockabilies, and the like; the late-80s & 90s traveller community in Britain; and he simultaneously works as a commercial fashion photographer, photographing and making video campaigns, sometimes featuring supermodels slumming it in high fashion with his subculture subjects.
After a couple of decades working with the traveler community, McKell found himself among a group of young female artists and performers, documenting their warehouse homes and communal spaces, performances and rehearsals, making portraits, documenting parties, and pretty much hanging around these kids that look quite a bit like my cohort ca. 1992-96.
We didn’t have east London warehouse lofts, but we had the same glitter and punk/goth/thrift store glam, and I feel some nostalgia when I look through New Girl Order.
And then I remember that many (45% or so) of my punk/hippy/weirdo friends from way back then voted for Trump and likely will again later this year…
I’m sorry to be such a downer, so cynical. I think I’ve been in the corporate world, in my home/guest closet office, avoiding contact with other humans for way too long.
The New Girls are pretty and look like they’re having fun. Several of them know how to pose, and it’s fairly obvious that many of the photographs are staged, fashiony things, if not outright Vogue outtakes. And the generation here is the one on the rise, they will take over one day. And they’ll put away the glitter and wild makeup, stop partying, start going along to get along.
Hopefully, they’ll grow up to be better than we did.
I’d like to be able to say something about the pictures themselves, rather than the subjects of the pictures. But these pictures are about the girls and what they’re up to. It’s not an art photography project. It’s not even, really, a documentary photo project, though there is some sense of documentation. New Girl Order documents mid 20-teens post-riotgrrl fashion, and it too will pass and rise again.
At time of writing, New Girl Order remains available direct from Hoxton Mini Press, and like all their books, it’s reasonably priced. If you want a document of early 21st century boho fashion in East London, look no further.