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Visible Girls: London’s lost female subcultures

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Lynne and Penny at home in Kingston, March 1981.
 
In the early 1980s, photographer Anita Corbin documented the “informal uniforms” of young women’s subcultures across London. Corbin photographed rude girls, rockabillies, mods, skinheads, and some “less defined” female groups including soul, rasta, punk and futurist, as well as those involved “in and around the women’s liberation movement.”  Her photographs were exhibited in a traveling exhibition organized by the Cockpit Gallery Project called Visible Girls in 1981.

In her introduction to the Visible Girls exhibition, Corbin wrote:

In this project I turned my attention to more personal visual details and I became increasingly interested in the effect appearences have on everybody’s lives.

The way we use dress as a means of communication/identification and how it can both inform and misinform us.

I have chosen to focus on girls, not the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.

Corbin discovered that for these young women belonging to a subculture was not just a weekend hobby but a whole way of life.

More than thirty years later, Anita Corbin has reconnected with some of the women in her photographs, but would like to contact them all, if possible. If you recognize yourself or any of these women, then you can contact Anita here.
 
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Kath and Em, at home in Putney, October 1980.
 
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Debbie and Mandy, McDonalds, Crystal Palace, November 1980.
 
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Karyn and Sarah, at the British Museum, March 1981.
 
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Carrie and Jill, outside the ladies’ in Crystal Palace, November 1980.
 
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Simeon and Simeon, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Pat and Karen, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Judith and Janice, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Charmine and Janice, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Rockabilly girls, at Shades, Manor House, February 1981.
 
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Titch and Sylvia at home in Sudbury, March 1981.
 
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Trenchcoat owners Oxford Street, February 1981.
 
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Marlise and Noelle, on a march for International Women’s Day, 1981.
 
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Nicole and Carol, at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill Gate, April 1981.
 
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Anne and Penny, at the Market Tavern, Vauxhall, February 1981.
 
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Two Mod girls, Oxford Street, March 1981.
 
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Laura and Janet, South London Rosettes, April 1981.
 
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Quasi and Squasher, at the Royalty, Southgate, March 1981.
 
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Kate and Friend, at the Royalty, Southgate, March 1981.
 
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Rosalee and Deborah, at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill Gate, April 1981.
 
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Di and Lee, at the Tabernacle, Notting Hill Gate, April 1981.
 
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Jill and friend, the Blitz Nightclub, Covent Garden, December 1980.
 
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Shelley and DI, The White Swan, Crystal Palace, November 1980.
 
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Susan and Linda, outside Southgate tube station, February 1981.
 
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Lucy and Fiona, at Shades, Manor House, March 1981.
 
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Ann and Charlotte, at home in Southfields, November 1980.
 
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Charlotte and Tessa, at home in Highgate, North London, April 1981.
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At the Marquee club, December 1980.
 
With thanks to Elizabeth Veldon, via Buzzfeed.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher

 

 

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