BodyMap was an influential British fashion label of the 1980s, renowned for its layered and innovatively structured shapes, distinctive prints and groundbreaking fashion shows.
During the post-Punk and New Romantic early to mid '80s, when street and club styles dominated the British fashion scene, BodyMap was described by the Chicago Tribune as: "perhaps the hottest, most visually arresting company in Britain's design renaissance".
In 1986, Suzy Menkes noted in The Times that although some of its designs were too extreme to sell well, it was highly influential: "[Bodymap's] ideas on body conscious dressing were freely taken up and absorbed into mainstream fashion".
In a 2010 retrospective in Dazed Digital, Al Mulhall said it remains: "a reference point in the world of ready-to-wear"
BodyMap was founded by Stevie Stewart and David Holah in 1982, both fashion graduates of Middlesex Polytechnic. Originally launched from a stall on Camden Market while they were students, it generated publicity quickly – helped by the fact that Stewart and Holah's graduation collection was bought by the prestigious independent South Molton Street fashion store Browns.
In an interview for the V&A, Stewart and Holah also credit Swiss-born event producer Susanne Bartsch for their swift rise. After BodyMap was shown at a 'New London in New York' show designed to introduce young British design talent to American audiences, and garnered substantial publicity from the U.S. fashion press, it then attracted interest from the UK press. David Holah commented in the V&A interview that, after the New York show, they became: "stars overnight".
In common with other emerging designers of the 1980s, Stewart and Holah were strongly influenced by London's club scene and designed specifically for young people.
BodyMap's early collaboration with textile designer Hilde Smith saw it use distinctive prints that were as much a part of its trademark look as the use of multiple layering and lines that were designed to remap the body's outline. Choice of fabrics was also key to the look – in a 2013 interview, David Holah said: "We worked closely with a sportswear company in Sweden and experimented with high quality cotton and viscose fabrics...we pioneered viscose lycra".