Thursday, 23 September 2010

Fashion trends from a vintage view point...

In case any of you have been so far into the 1940's (or in A&E like me.. a long tiresome story) so as not to have noticed it has been London Fashion Week. By definition the 'looks' the fashion media have been tossing to us mere low level consumers are already yesterday's tinned tomatas. For a more cutting edge and indeed informed view of what is happening I direct you to the indefatigueable Katie Chutzpah's and Lee Clatworthy's posts on her excellent blog.  I thought however I would turn my jaded vintage peepers upon a few of the fashion 'stories' being sold to us and consider from the vintage point of view, whether they are fairytales or nightmares? So lets start:

1970's glamour, Charlie's Angels, Camel. I am aware that some eejyots will describe this as a vintage look. It isn't. I'm not the right person to comment on this as I remember with a shudder the clothes of the 70's. Fair enough the designers are not really channelling nylon knitted tabards, flares and clogs Croydon circa 75. Nor were designers in 1975, but it can easily come to that. This is a look that is really limited to the tall, the thin, the blonde and the American. Because it all seems to be pale and tasteful and browny/beigy. The other problem with it is that it needs luxe fabrics and will look cheap and nasty with a High Street sheen.  On the positive side a good 70's camel coat was a quotation of 40's and 50's coats as worn by Grace Kelly et al. If you are blonde and slim one of these could look splendid with your pin curls.  The other possible good result of this trend is the era's interest in borrowing 30's nautical looks; there may be some decent wide cut trousers, stripes and cotton out there. I quite like 70's jewellery, but that is just me in non-vintage mode.

The chunky wooly aviator style jackets and gillets are also in fashion again. These make you look like an inuit and if you have breasts it looks like you have been stuffed into a bit of roof insulation. Grazia has said that made cheaply they will look terrible and coined the phrase 'Chaviator Jackets'. But the whole point of high fashion is it's money making spiral into low fashion and if it can't look ok on a pretty 14 year old who has bought it from a stall on East Lane as a mass look it is a curse.

VintageVerdict: Not too good, might be some cruise wear type stuff and wide trousers. Odd decent coat. Otherwise pretty useless (the Studio 54 vibe would be better by far).

The 'new' minimalism/simplicity. No and before you ask I have no idea what the old minimalism was, when you think philosophically about it, minimalism can only be, well, minimal.  Funnily enough I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff. It is not really minimal, just stripping away the frills and furbelows so we can appreciate the fabric and shape. I'm not a fashionista so I am not interested in the 'construction', they mean the pattern cutting and sewing? Why not just say sewing? I digress. Simplicity gives you choice, a full vintage red lipped maquillage and set hair is set off well by simple classy silhouettes.

Simple shapes can work well for vintage tastes, they may seem very modern but the 30's and 50's were as much about shape and block colour as embellishment. For me a 40's or early 50's suit is more about shape than anything else. When these minimalist items hit the high street (if they do) the coats and jackets will work brilliantly with pencil skirts and a Lea Stein Brooch and reasonable mid range manufacturers should be able to make a decent fist of it.  

Vintage Verdict: Depends on the wearer, I like boxy and assymetrical styles in charcoal grey. As a top to toe look it might be severe, but then again what's wrong with severity, it's not all little darling buttons, lace and frou frou after all.

The New Lady-like, back to the Fifties or more simply put: Mad Men Rip Off. This would appear to be a no - brainer, pretty Horrockses style dresses with waists and unusual colours and fabrics. The only problem is that fashion predictably went for the least stylish and most fashion friendly of the Madmen ladies: Betty Draper, glacial, improbably thin, blonde and stupid.  So the dresses are all sleeveless, or they will be when they hit the High Street. 

I'm thinking that if we look at the staider quality High Street brands such as Planet or Alexon there may be some very good fifties style dresses and suits cropping up. I fear that what will happen, and has already happened as for once the designers were late with this trend, is that the waists will be too high and wide (can't see girls getting into support garments) and the volume entirely reliant on waist gathers rather than fabric yardage and pleating. Still can only be a good thing, I have already noticed some nice fabric patterns on the racks other than the hideous digital prints that have been plaguing us for the last year or two.
Vintage Verdict: Good for vintage lovers although we are unlikely to be spoiled for choice.

I'm going to follow this up with an Autumn/Winter 'vintage' fashion season round up, any makers or designers or companies out there who have ideas of what their vintage Autumn/Winter look will be please contact me or send me an image.

Comments are as ever welcome, 'specially as I am temporarily an invalid : (


Mim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mim said...

I agree with you about the camel look mainly suiting blondes, although it can work really well on ladies with Mediterranean colouring.

Anyone who likes this season's 50s look should snap it up, as it looks like next year's big past influence is going to be Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver - a dodgy concept for the very young, and probably as unflattering as it gets for anyone over 30...

[Edit: hope you're not too poorly, and going to hospital wasn't completely awful.]

monika said...

So what is your cutoff date for calling something vintage? The 70's started 40 years ago, and if I remember rightly, the 50's were considered 'vintage' in the 90's - 40 years later.

RedlegsinSoho said...

Hi Monika,
I have always followed the 50 years= vintage. 100 years=antique rule. Except for wine obviously! The use of vintage for newer togs is a marketing ploy IMHO.


Mim, Jodie Foster in taxi driver, really ? eek!

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