Twentieth Century Fashion Arts Cultural Studies Essay

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The inspirations drawn from the street fashion world by the couture set cannot be questioned. Time and again we see where the creativity of the masses is reflected on the runways off high fashion. Whether it was the Oxford Bags to protest the Knickers band or the Hippies of Vietnam era protests, street fashion makes a statement that cannot be ignored by the masses. This paper will explore the ties between several street fashions and their modern day runway counterparts.

We begin my looking at the 1940s and Zoot Suits. The Zoot Suite trend is responsible for one of the greatest instances of civil unrest in America the Zoot Suit Riots. After years of making do during wars and depression young African American and Mexican American men rebelled. With the

United States War Department urging conservation these young men choose to don the anything but conservative Zoot Suit. Frank Tellez is pictured in image Final_1_Moore in a classic Zoot Suit. This image was created on Jun 11, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. As you can see in image Final_1_Moore the zoot suit consisted of a ¾ length jacket, with extremely wide lapels, and exaggeratedly wide padded shoulders. The pants of a zoot suit, called "tramas" rode high on the waist, were wide from the waist to the narrow cuffs at the ankle. The ensemble was topped with a wide brimmed felt hat replete with an ordinate peacock feather, shoe spats over thick soled pointy shoes, and an over long watch chain and fob. The pant of the Zoot Suit would have a 3" waistband, legs that could be up to 30 inches in circumference at the knee and less than 10" at the cuffed ankle. These pants were often held up by suspenders that were hidden by an elaborate vest. The lining of the zoot suit would be a contrasting fabric to complement the bright or patterned exterior. The excessive design of the zoot suit was deemed unpatriotic. That sentiment and the arrogance of the wearer spurred the Los Angeles based zoot suit riots.

Today on the fashion runways we see the zoot suit revived in collections such as the one pictured in image Final_2_Moore from Adam Kimmel's Spring 2010 Menswear Collection. Kimmel's suit is reminiscent of the 1940s street trend in its long coat, padded shoulders, and flamboyant fabrics. However, Kimmel departs from the traditional by narrowing the legs, removing the cuffs, and lowering the waist. Kimmel retains the essence of the Zoot Suit without mimicking it.

Gianfranco Ferre' Spring 2011 Menswear Collection Final_3_Moore took the Zoot Suits best elements of style and grace and brought them into the 21st century with rich gold fabrics and stylist double breasted patterned jackets.

Teddy Boys - 1950s Street Fashion

As the decade of the 1950s dawned so did the Teddy Boys of England. The Teddy Boys were considered trouble wherever they were. The slicked back hair with long sideburns, when coupled with slim jeans or slacks, drape jackets with velvet collars, skinny ties, and heavily soled shoes was the uniform every young English school boy dreamed of. Many young men would have parents of other young men tailor their slack to the tiniest of ankle opening, sometimes utilizing a zipper to allow them to slip their feet through the opening. Image Final_4_Moore was taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s in Woverhampton, England. You can almost see the delinquency in the faces of the young men.

In Versace, Spring 2011 Menswear Collection the Teddy Boy reappeared with skinny jeans, pointed leather shoes, and shiny lapels. The skinny jeans and jacket were done in a fine grain black leather. The modern version of a Teddy Boy, seen in image Final_5_Moore, sports a shiny shawl collared drape jacket and a monochromatic fashion. Versace's designs stayed true to the original design down to the styling of the infamous Duck Tail hairstyle of the 1950s and 60s.

Paul Smith' Spring 2010 RTW Collection, as seen in image Final_6_Moore, is a much more flamboyant take on the 1950s English male delinquent. The hot pink exterior lined with a contrasting orange catch the eye long before the fashion trend can be identified. The telltale skinny leg slacks, are topped with a less than traditional tailored suit jacket and finalized with at bright patterned skinny tie.

Beatniks - 1950s Street Fashion

Beatniks were not about fashion trends at all, it was more a lack of fashion. They inspired a minimalistic, monochromatic look. As seen in image Final_7_Moore the New York beatnik dress in form fitting black slacks and often a soft sweater topped with a beret. The Loewe Resort 2009 collection brought back the beatnik minimalism with a touch of class thrown in. In image Final_8_Moore the form fitting top is made fresh with sheer sleeves and a neckline bow. The beret has been replaced with a military style leather cap and simple ballet flats have given over to dressy sling back pumps. Jarrar's Fall 2009 Couture Collection is truer to the simple beatnik of the 70s. In image Final_9_Moore a bit of white piping is all that sets the new from the old. Slender legs and a boxy sheath type top are style with a simple ponytail to bring the images of the bygone era.

Mods - 1960s Street Fashion

The Mods of the 1960s were embodied by Twiggy who came on the scene as the new face of media, supermodel. Twiggy's image, Final_10_Moore, shows mod mod style of straight lines and slim figures. Mods just wanted to have fun. This is a carefree fashion trend, light and airy. The simple lines are symbolic of the simpler life style, less fuss.

In image Final_11_Moore we see the Alexis Mabille Spring 2010 Couture collection example of mod. Using the abstract lines of color blocking to take the eye from place to place Mabille's updated and longer version of the Mod trend is fashion forward and workplace appropriate. Image Final_12_Moore gives Pedro Lourenco Fall 2010 RTW version of Mod. The vinyl look and high boots are true to the traditional Mod look. But Lourenco steps up the game a bit by dropping the hemline and adding a bit of punk with shredded black leather trim at the skirt and shoulders.

Hippies - 1960s Street Fashion

In December 1965 Lori Hayman married Chet Helms in the Haight Ashbury Distirct of San Francisco. She was dressed as we see her in Final_13_Moore. The long dress with ruffles around the bottom and a simple tie at the bust was the uniform of the female Hippie. Generally the clothing worn by Hippies was purchased at thrift stores, what we call vintage today.

Chanel's Fall 2010 Couture Collection (Final_14_Moore) featured the softly flowing long dresses of the 1960s Hippie trend and the high empire style waist. Chanel's collection went modern using sheet netting for the length as opposed to the traditional cotton blends of yesterday. Elie Saab Fall 2010 Couture (Final_15_Moore) went 60s Hippie with a tie dye look in a long flowing gown. The knotted high waist just below the breasts stays true to the original designs. The style of both the Chanel and Saab models also speaks of 1960s Hippie. Straight flowing hair, little makeup, and no jewelry are true to the original trend.

Discos - 1970s Street Fashion

Ah the 1970s decadent excess and everyone was falling in love with John Travolta dancing in an all white leisure suit under a spinning disco ball. That single frame of film firmly ensconced the style of disco in the minds of every young man in America (Final_16_Moore). White polyester three piece suits and open collar button up shirts in satin became all the rage.

Bottega Veneta's Spring 2007 Menswear Collection (Final_17_Moore) brought back the all white suit in a much cooler linen wool blend sans the wide collared button ups. Veneta's look is much leaner, without the tight crotch or the lounge lizard feel of polyester. The Perry Ellis 2006 Menswear Collection took the leisure suit of 1970s and made it all grown up. The black slacks and draped jacket over a black tee give the outfit (Final_18_Moore) a New York Italian meets Miami playboy without the seedy that would normally belong to such a combination.

Punk - 1970s Street Fashion

At the same time that America was dancing the night away under a glittering disco ball, the young people of England were expressing a darker vision of themselves. Torn clothing, dark makeup, and short spiked color laced hair dawned the era of punk. Punk is a counter culture of youth looking to define themselves. The culture quickly moved to the major cities of America. The photo called "Punk Kid" (Final_19_Moore) was shot in Seattle Washington by Bob Kondrak 1978. Punk was the precursor to the next subculture to sweep Seattle, Grunge. The trademarks of Punk included all black clothing including jeans and tee shirts, radically colored and shaped hair, and piercings.. Punk has lasted thru the decades eventually evolving into a musical genre and creating the offshoot of goth, complete with vampires and werewolves. Ann Demeulemeester's Fall 2010 RTW collection brought punk to evening wear (Final_20_Moore). Her black leather gown with a strong deconstructionist feel and black leather boots is both elegant and edgy, a tough combination for any designer. Neil Barett's Fall 2010 RTW (Final_21_Moore) paired graphic tees with black leather and a much more feminine boot, bringing punk to a softer place in society. Barett's school girl meets bad girl works.

Hip Hop - 1980s Street Fashion

Hip Hop fashion came from the subculture created by a new music genre of the 1980s. Hip Hop music and fashion was made popular by the mostly African American male performers and work by the same group of individuals. Characterized by the baggie pants that fit tightly at the ankles about high top sneakers, and a oversized tee or hoodie were stylized with loads of gold chains and jewelry. Run DMC was a popular band during the inception of the Hip Hop era. In image Final_22_Moore notice the bubble jackets, hats, and untied tennis shoes. In Nautica's Fall 2008 Menswear collection (Final_23_Moore) we see the return of the bubble jacket now in neon orange, but still made from the same sateen type fabrics. As Hip Hop has grown and changed through the ages we have seen more of the prison jumpsuit type that Walter Van Beirendonck (Final_24_Moore) used in his menswear collection. The heavy chains and tennis shoes are fairly true to the initial trend however the baby blue color may be an indication that Hip Hop fashion has a softer side.

Street Trends - 21st Century

Punk Junk is a trend that I am seeing more and more in the marketplace. To me these are items at are "blinged out" with studs, metal trim, and black leather. Most of these items are things that would be associated with the Punk and Grunge Trends. Boots like the Harley-Davidson Julia (Final_25_Moore) are in line with this trend. We see the stylish feminine boot in black leather with silver studs and metal rings. We see examples of Punk Junk on the runways today in Versace's Fall 2010 Menswear collection (Final_27_Moore) in a black leather biker jacket with intricate stitching and metal studding. In Dsquared2 Fall 2010 Ready To Wear Collection (Final_28_Moore) we see the bling of Punk Junk along the sides of a black wool jacket, embroidered with metallic flare at the waist and sporting leather lapels. Punk Junk is the grown up vanilla version of the true Punk genre.

The second trend I see is a Soho Boho trend where the peasant blouses of old are all new again in bright colors, vintage prints, and elaborate stitching on the traditional basic flowing cotton base. The peasant blouse is now seen on red carpets and city streets as evidenced by Cindy Crawford's donning one for the John Varvatos 6th Annual Stuart House Benefit (Final_29_Moore). The bright red cotton blouse paired with great true blue denim jeans and a low heels sandal show the peasant blouse is all grown up.

In Rebecca Taylor's Resort 2011 collection (Final_30_Moore) we see a wide arm sleeved peasant blouse in vintage embroidery. Pairing the blouse with a great pair of denim jeans gives the wearer an air of understated modishness. And I think that Emanuel Ungaro's (Final_31_Moore) dizzying black and white modern print off the shoulder peasant blouse is a wonderful example of the simple sophistication one can achieve with a pair of cargo pants and a touch of feather at the shoulder.