A specialist hire company supplying vintage street fashion, couture items and accessories to the Film, TV and Fashion industries.
Contemporary Wardrobe was originally set up in 1978, by costume designer & stylist Roger K. Burton as a specialist hire company to supply vintage street fashion, couture items and accessories to the Film, TV and Fashion industries.
Since its inception Contemporary Wardrobe has always been renowned for being at the forefront of cutting edge style. Born out of a passion for youth culture, and recognition of street fashion’s importance in our social history, the collection now exceeds some twenty thousand garments, mostly designed between 1945 and the present day, and representing a multitude of diverse British and American youth movements and cult fashions. Including definitive items and classic pop fashion from seminal boutiques such as Mr Freedom, Biba and Seditionaries, and the couture houses Yves Saint Laurent, Dior and Givenchy.
Although well documented for supplying youth orientated feature films like ‘Quadrophenia’, ‘Absolute Beginners’, ‘Sid & Nancy’, ‘Hackers’ and ‘Stoned’ to name but a few, the collection’s real importance is reflected by the amount of bands – over 400 to date – that have either worn items or entire outfits from this amazing selection in their promotional videos, stills, on stage and album covers.
From Pop royalty to Cult icons, from Rock ‘n’ roll super groups to Soul divas and one hit wonders; at one time or another Contemporary Wardrobe has dressed them all, and as such we are very proud of our heritage, which includes David Bowie, Annie Lennox, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, through to PJ Harvey and Kanye West. Consequently the wardrobe archives are bursting with ‘as worn by’ trophies that now regularly appear in museums around the world.
At the height of the music video era during the early to mid-eighties, stylists, designers and artists were pouring through the door on a daily basis; in search of undiscovered treasures and hungry for new ideas to feed the infant MTV beast. This fresh interest in pop-cultures historic iconography was born out of kids’ frustration with stifling mainstream fashion, and owes much to the liberating punk movement. It also coincided with a crop of new style magazines that were making an appearance at the time, such as i-D, the Face and Blitz who regularly featured the latest bands and musicians, wearing our clothes. It felt as if everyone on the scene was plundering the past for inspiration, and having such a vast collection and specialist knowledge, Contemporary Wardrobe was the obvious choice. As one well-known 1980s fashion stylist once commented, ‘if there was nothing happening on the streets, you could be sure to find inspiration at Contemporary Wardrobe’.
What goes around comes around and the early 2000’s famous fashion stylists, notorious models, fashion designers, and design houses have taken centre stage with us, all visiting on a regular basis to unearth long gone looks and rework them for today’s style conscious market.
You only have to follow our Instagram pages to see that the range and diversity of the collection’s use has been quite staggering. What one stylist would cast aside as outdated, another will turn it into an exotic creation and begin a whole new fashion trend.
During this time, not only have Contemporary Wardrobe been the keepers of culture, but instigators of many a new trend, through a programme of recycling and constant reinvention of the past. You are welcome to make an appointment to visit the collection and share in its rich history.