Sunday, 29 July 2018

SpiceUp London - An Exhibition About The Spice Girls

This weekend, my sisters and I got up bright & early & ventured to the Business Design Centre in Angel Islington for the opening day of the new exhibition there, SpiceUp London. Created by Spice Girls lover, Alan Smith-Allison, the exhibition showcases the incredible collections of 12 super-fan collections including original Spice Girl outfits and merchandise collected over the last 20 years. Smith-Allison grew up in a small town in Scotland and struggled with coming out as gay but identified with the Spice Girls and their message of embracing who you are. He has spent in the region of £200,000 on collecting memorabilia. Items in the exhibition also belong to Liz West, the Guinness World Record holder for the largest Spice Girl memorabilia collection.

The exhibition is set up in a timeline lay out, beginning with exhibits themed by their early hits, the outfits of members, CDs, tapes, promo artwork etc. Some of the outfits are easily recognisable, others you might need the accompanying signage to remind you of where the outfits came from. I loved the bedroom section - the scene very relatable for 90's girls. I definitely had this bedding and an inflatable chair and rucksack.
One of my favourite features of the exhibition was the footwear. At the time, I was obsessed with Buffalo boots and there were so many on show. Interestingly, a lot of the clothing and footwear belonged to Mel B and there's little of Emma Bunton's garments, she allegedly doesn't sell off many of her items, keeping them her own collection.
The most impressive aspect of the exhibition was the mass expanse of merchandise. As we perused the items ranging from crisp packets to cutouts, lunch boxes to ties, it made me think about the Spice Phenomena. In a pre-social media world, they reached global success in a way no other band has since. There's even chocolate Easter eggs still in the boxes.
One thing that struck us about the clothing was how surprisingly low quality they are compared to clothing made today! It made feel super old, observing fashion trends from back then that have come back round again now. The original and famous Union Jack dress, worn by Geri Halliwell is not present. It's owned by Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas and they declined to let SpiceUp borrow it. The UJ dress she wore for the Olympics however, was loaned out by the designer Suzanne Neville and can therefore be found at the exhibition.
After the main section of the exhibition, there is a small section dedicated to each band members' solo careers. The biggest section was that of Victoria Beckham. She's seen the most success of the band members but this also interestingly suggests that Posh is Alan's favourite Spice Girl.
SpiceUp is a fun trip down memory lane and a must for any local Spice Girl fans. It was fun seeing magazines and merchandise I actually owned as a child and recognising some of the iconic outfits from music videos. Viewing Alan's collection was interesting - there's just SO much. The way in which the exhibition is presented quite basic but that is reflected in the very reasonable £10 entrance fee.

Tickets are for a booked 3 hour time slot however we were able to see it all and go back over a couple of sections a second time in around 1 hour. Spiceworld the movie is showing in a room on a projector so if you wanted to watch this then you'd probably need the full 3 hours.

Visitors also have the option to buy tickets for an open top bus tour (not on the Spice Bus, although the genuine Spice Bus is located outside the exhibition and you are able to go inside) around London which is 2 hours long and visits iconic Spice Girls-related locations with their greatest hits playing throughout the journey. SpiceUp is in London until 20th August 2018, then it moves onto Manchester from 24th August until 4th September 2018. The exhibition will go on to tour another 10 cities but date's haven't been announced just yet.
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