Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s my overriding style memories (and catalogue of cringey photographs) aren’t exactly of the chic variety - Lyrca cycling shorts, bomber (with the fetching orange lining) and puffa jackets, ice-cream hued shell suits and the grungey over sized checked shirts/washed out jean combo championed nonchalantly by Nirvana and TV show My So Called Life... I’m a mongrel in terms of personal style.. a tomboy who attempts, and fantasizes, about amping up the polish to ooze movie-star elegance. With these leanings there was an obvious style era to make further comment on...in part also persuaded by my infatuation with the green goddess gown (otherwise known as the perfect dress) worn by Keira Knightley in Atonement.
For many the 1930’s conjures images of the aforementioned optimum glamour, showcased perfectly by movie starlet Jean Harlow and re-imagined by the costumes adorned by Gwen Stefani in 2004’s The Aviator. As a reaction to the need for resourcefulness brought on by WW1, society reveled in a new opportunity to indulge and express excess .The Art Deco movement also encouraged opulence albeit with a certain amount of functionality. It’s basis of geometric shapes often informed tailoring styles, in particular the lapels. There were also obvious parallels with the structure and detail on women's shoes of the time. But as a regular trouser/loafer wearer its the character portrayed by Cate Blanchett in The Aviator who is the primary reason for picking 1930’s as my chosen decade....a women who wore what felt right to her, a fashion innovator...Katherine Hepburn. Her affect on the female wardrobe is unrivaled, happily defying social convention and unfazed by the scandalous label that followed. She consistently embraced her unique personality with stubborn independence - unlike many actresses of the era who would eradicate any sense of individuality in an attempt to embody the sex symbol image of the day. Apparently the first to female to wear trousers at her University, relentless in her unwilling to conform it has also been reported that once during filming a production assistant was instructed to remove her jeans from her dressing room (at that time only farmers or movie characters wore them). The bosses hoped it would push her into donning a skirt, however Katherine rebelled opting to sashay around in her undergarments until the jeans were given back! Incidentally Katherine (alongside Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor) was also one of the actresses Director Sam Goldwin had paid Coco Chanel one million dollars to create garments for in 1931. By this time Chanel's now iconic No.5 scent had already been launched with her name was renowned amongst those who could afford her.
Dancing also owned a major part of this decade in part due to the work of Director/Choreographer Busby Berkely and the legendary duo, the light of foot Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. While moving to the sounds of the big band ladies hair was still worn relatively short and set in soft waves, but the boyish shapes of the 1920’s flapper dresses had given way, the female shape embraced again with a bias cut a way of moulding the fluid materials against the body. Whether or not this was mirrored by their character, men appeared gentlemanly and suave, black or midnight blue double breasted tuxedos being the norm. However this era also saw the white jacket emerge ( a look which brought swoon-worthy Harrison Ford to my notice in 1930s shanghai scene in Indiana Jones at the Temple of Doom). While we touch on men's fashion I must once again return to Atonement (yes I am obsessed) where James McAvoy looked equally resplendent in his tux and bow tie as he did garden ready( brooding with sexual tension) in a dusky blue shirt with sleeves rolled up . I’m in full support of bands such as Hurts and Friendly Fires who in recent years have marvelously showcased the powerful simplicity of the humble shirt.... sorry I digress... I, alongside many of the glossies most featured fashion icons who have intentionally or not taken inspiration from Katherine, donning masculine pieces or giving an androgynous edge to their looks, will continue to enjoy the concept of unisex dressing. I will also continue to witness every female singer/ red carpet walker at one time or another attempt to emulate one of the 1930’s silver screen heroines.. with their accompanying sex appeal. In the meantime I will have to wait patiently in my slacks, brogues and boyfriend blazer and hope for a suitably glamorous occasion to wear my own version of the screen siren perfect dress.....
Friday, 18 February 2011
Sophie Eggleton who is a freelance fashion and music writer as well as a blogger. She is deeply in love with the 30's and tells us why.