Sunday, 7 April 2013

1980S TREND RESEARCH

To assist in writing my body copy for my fashion trend publication it was important to thoroughly research key topics and cultures. 

One of them is the YUPPIE, 1984.

Finding out more in depth information in regards to the history and social issues behind this sub-culture is a big benefit:

Yuppie was a 1980s acronym for 'Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person'. The word was coined by the advertising industry to capture the essence of a particular type of work hard, play hard, ambitious minded city career person. 

The hectic lifestyle of a yuppie meant that after long hours of work, rare free time was spent in a self indulgent way frittering away the cash earned on anything, from expensive perfume, to a bottle of fine champagne. Conspicuous wastage was part of the attitude. The term applies to men whose ages range from about 21 to early 40s. 


Yuppie-style is always matching and usually upscale. They like to flaunt their good taste. Even if the young professionals are in debt to their ears, they work hard to maintain the image of success. For day they sported wide shouldered jackets and for weekends they wore a Barbour to effect a country aesthetic to assume the appearance of a more advantaged lifestyle.

The ultimate yuppie fashion film is American Psycho. The short clips will give you a more in-depth view of grooming and vanity.


How to dress like a Yuppie

1. Wear business suits. In your free time wear clothes that are considered casual, these are usually khakis and polo shirts. Make sure you see someone else wearing the outfit before - yuppies are conformists.

2. Spend money on an expensive watch and make sure that your sleeves are always rolled up enough for people to see it. 

3. Look for outfits in neutral colours like grey, beige and olive. Yuppies do not like to stand out with bold colors. They may end up making an unintentional statement.

4. You should have neat straight hair that doesn't need too much hair product.

5. Carry a sweater with you by draping it over your shoulders and tying the arms loosely around the front. This should look very casual as if you put it there without a lot of though. And the sweater should never fall off or hang crooked.

Source: bohemenoir


Were you a yuppie in the Eighties?  Were L.A. Law and thirtysomething two of your favorite television shows?  Did you prefer wine over beer, pasta over Big Macs, designer ice cream (or yogurt) over the supermarket brands?  Did you read the Wall Street Journal and USA Today more often than the local newspaper?  Did you own a Beemer (BMW) or a Mercedes -- or want to?  Did you wear Amani trousers or power suits, write with a Cross pen, carry a Gucci briefcase, and talk about the "bottom line?"  Were The Sharper Image and L.L. Bean two of your favorite mail-order catalogs?  Did you frequent stores like Banana Republic and drop by Starbuck's for a cafe latte?  Did you smile when you saw parquet floors, and turn up your nose at shag carpet?  If you answered yes to some or all of the above, made $40,000 or more a year in the 1980s, and were a baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1964), chances are you were a yuppie, even though you might not have admitted it.
First there came the hippies, politically and culturally rebellious participants in the counterculture of the Sixties.  And then there were the preppies, materialistic and upscale, obsessed with status, who believed the privileges they took for granted were due them thanks to an accident of birth.  Yuppies melded what they deemed the best of both worlds -- the materialism of the preppies absent the snobbery and the self-absorbed perfectionism of the hippie without the anti-establishment mindset.  The term "Yuppie" was first used in print by Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene in a March 1983 piece on Jerry Rubin, a hippie-turned-yuppie, and was bandied about extensively in the 1984 presidential campaign in which Colorado senator Gary Hart, a contender for the Democratic nomination, seemed tailor-made to appeal to the fiscally conservative but socially liberal yuppie voter.
According to Newsweek, 1984 was the "Year of the Yuppie" -- the young urban professional whose lifestyle and outlook made him/her a synecdoche of Reagan's America.  Yuppies were, according to leftist Fredric Jameson, "a new petit bourgeoisie [whose] cultural practices and values . . . have articulated a useful dominant ideological and cultural paradigm" for American society in the 1980s.  Yuppies were lambasted as excessively consumptive in their pursuit of the American Dream without much regard for those left behind.  The yuppie heyday was short-lived; critics gleefully described the stock market crash of October 1987 as the consequence of yuppie folly -- and the beginning of the yuppie's end.  On November 11, 1987, 20,000 attended a "Save the Yuppie" concert given (tongue in cheek) by U2 at Justin Herman Plaza in the heart of San Francisco's financial district.  After the crash, a popular joke was that the difference between a pigeon and a yuppie stockbroker was that the pigeon could still make a deposit on a new Mercedes.  "Yuppie" quickly became a derogatory term, but there can be little doubt that the yuppie phenomenon had a lasting cultural impact.
Considerable debate raged as to the number of genuine yuppies.  The Newsweek cover story estimated that there were 1.2 million, while American Demographics determined that about 5 percent of baby boomers (4.2 million) qualified.  Nearly three-fourths of yuppie households were headed by couples, and a yuppie sub-set called DINKS -- double-income, no-kids couples -- was identified.  Married or not, DINKS worked long hours at professional/managerial jobs, postponed having children for the sake of their careers, and had lots of discretionary income which they used in consuming conspicuously, like good yuppies did.  Yuppies often worked so hard that they had little time for sex; more than one DINK couple admitted that they had an answering machine at home just so they could talk to each other at least once a day.
Obsession with career was a hallmark of yuppie culture.  As The Yuppie Handbook (1984) pointed out, work had to be personally meaningful, emotionally satisfying, and a vehicle for self-expression. Since staying busy was de rigueur for a yuppie, advertisers targeting them found the print media more effective than television -- a yuppie was likely to record China Beach orMoonlighting for later viewing and fast-forward through the commercials anyway.  MetropolitanHome and New Yorker magazines were authentic yuppie publications.  Meanwhile, upscale mail-order catalogs proliferated. Richard Thalheimer's San Francisco-based The Sharper Image earned a whopping $78 million in 1983 as the "ultimate toy store for yuppies."  From espresso-cappucino makers and the Corby trouser press to a bathtub hydrospa and a $5,000 tanning bed, the most popular yuppie items had to be useful as well as fun to own.  A definite yuppie decor developed -- postmodern art, tile bathrooms, wood floors, bare brick walls, pastel colors, glass bricks, potted plants and stainless steel Sub-Zero refrigerators were in vogue.  Yuppies led the way in gentrifying urban neighborhoods, turning warehouse lofts and run-down brownstones into valuable real estate.
The work of talented young writers like Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Jill Eisenstadt created a yuppie literary explosion, McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City was a huge success in 1984 and became a hit movie starring Michael J. Fox, Phoebe Cates and Kiefer Sutherland.  With witty and fast-paced writing, McInerney subtly portrayed the downside of frenetic yuppie existence through a protagonist who resorts to "Bolivian marching powder" (cocaine) to help him keep up with a life in the fast lane.  Bret Easton Ellis explored the foibles of the "New Lost Generation" in his bestseller, Less Than Zero (1985), while Eisenstadt scored big with From Rockaway in 1987.  In Diary of a Yuppie (1986), Louis Auchincloss, though not one himself, explored yuppie morality.  Some critics sniped that yuppie fiction was too trendy and superficial.  While skeptics agreed that McInerney and other members of the literary "brat pack" were fresh and talented voices, they complained that these chroniclers of Eighties lifestyle fiction had very little to say of lasting worth.  Yet their work endures as a window into the yuppie phenomenon.
Yuppie consumers played a key role in the emergence of New Age music -- an alpha-state, impressionistic fusion of jazz, acoustic and classical styles.  It's leading purveyor, Windham Hill, grossed $25 million in 1985 sales, primarily to young, white professionals.  Pianist George Winston's December album remained on Billboard's Top 40 jazz chart for over three years.  Other highly successful New Age artists included Steve Halpern, Jerry Goodman, Vangelis and Kitaro. Though some dismissed New Age music as "yuppie Muzak," it proved to be both innovative and enduring.
It seemed that many yuppies suffered pangs of guilt for being so obsessed with status.  Some were ex-hippies, and the passage from hippie to yuppie was perfectly illustrated in the film The Big Chill, whose characters mourn their compromised values and missed opportunities for love and parenthood.  The reconstructed yuppie was represented by the lead character in the hit television series Northern Exposure, which premiered in 1990; Dr. Joel Fleischman reluctantly embraces the abundantly anti-materialist values held by the eccentric but happy residents of Cicely, Alaska.  As the decade came to a close, the term yuppie became synonymous with greed, self-absorption and a lack of social conscience, and no one would admit to being one.  But in hindsight yuppies weren't all bad.  As Hendrik Hertzberg, editor of the New Republic wrote, "The fact is that . . . yuppies have better taste than yesterday's well-off young adult Americans, are less ostentatious in their display of wealth, . . .  set a far better example of healthful living, and are more tolerant."  Here's the bottom line -- today many Americans still live the yuppie lifestyle, or wish they did.


PERCEPTIONS OF THE YUPPIE

A 1986 survey by Louis Harris and Associates found the following:

73% of Americans believed that yuppies were primarily intent on making more money; 81% of yuppies agreed that they were.

72% of the public believed that yuppies were more concerned with their own needs than with the needs of others; the same percentage of yuppies agreed.

70% of those surveyed thought yuppies bought flashy cars and clothes in order to set themselves apart from others; 81% of yuppies said this was so.


REFERENCES

The Economist, 20 December 1986

Newsweek, 10 December 1984, 31 December 1984, 26 September 1988

Time, 9 January 1984, 1 September 1986, 20 April 1987, 19 October 1987

"On the Edge"
Joe Kane, Esquire, February 1985

"The Short Happy Life of the American Yuppie"
Hendrik Hertzberg, Culture in the Age of Money
Nicolaus Mill, ed. (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1990)

Seeing Through the Eighties: Television and Reaganism
Jane Feuer (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995)

The Yuppie Handbook
Marissa Piesman and Marilee Hartley (New York: Pocket Books, 1984)

Source: eightiesclub

Vivienne Westwood, Mini Crini, 1985:


At the height of big shoulders and power dressing, Vivienne Westwood unveils her 'Mini Crini' collection and declares her love for feminine power. She emphasises the small waist instead of the shoulders by drawing attention to the hips with a short swinging crinoline, the 'criniscule', or puffball skirt. The shoulder is reduced to its natural size by means of the classic proportions of English tailoring using princess lines, which can be worn over the crini. This important move redefines Vivienne Westwood's vision as a designer, English tailoring remaining to this day the foundation of her work.

Mini-Crini and Harris Tweed
Spring/Summer 1985 and Autumn/Winter 1987
The Mini-Crini collection saw an increasingly shaped look, the antithesis of the masculine shoulder pads and tight hip styles that were current in the 1980s. Westwood's historical research had led her to believe that clothes were about 'changing the shape of the body, about having a restriction'. She now wanted to 'make things that fitted'.
Inspired by the ballet Petrushka, Westwood devised a 'mini-crini' that combined the tutu with an abbreviated form of the Victorian crinoline. Though sexy, the mini-crini was also childish. Its shape echoed the old-fashioned party frock, while the polka dots, stars and stripes came out of Disney cartoons.
The Harris Tweed collection celebrated Westwood's love affair with traditional English clothing and also her growing obsession with royalty. It was named after the woollen fabric hand-woven in the Western Isles of Scotland. Many of the garments - the twinsets made by the long-established firm of Smedley, the 'Stature of Liberty' corsets, the tailored 'Savile' jackets - became Westwood classics.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD
Vivienne Westwood has always used the establishment as her point of reference for reaction so on this, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend, we thought it the perfect time to look at how one of the most influential British designers of the last fifty years drew influences from Royalty and our cloth.

Ten years on from punk rock, Westwood returned to the London catwalks after an absence of five years to show her Autumn/Winter 1987 ‘Harris Tweed’ collection choosing to pursue the classic country look with which to make her returning statement and even naming the collection after the epitome of traditional British textiles.

Members of the royal family have worn Harris Tweed for generations and Westwood declared that the colours of the cloth were so vibrant “they’re like jewels”. Sometimes referred to by Westwood as her ‘Aristocratic’ or ‘Royal’ collection, Harris Tweed was inspired by Westwood’s memories of the clothes worn by children like the young Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth.

“My whole idea for this collection was stolen from a little girl I saw on the tube one day. She couldn’t have been more than 14. She had a little plaited bun, a Harris Tweed jacket and a bag with a pair of ballet shoes in it. She looked so cool and composed standing there.”

The Queen had already been the object of Westwood’s attention during her Silver Jubilee in 1977, when her image adorned t-shirts sporting a safety pin through her nose. Ten years on, however, the antagonistic jibe at the establishment was gone, giving way to an affectionate parody of that most English of ladies and heralding a return to the traditional fit of English tailoring.

Westwood’s interpretation combined the most traditional of Harris Tweed velvet-trimmed jackets and Princess-line coats with all the pomp and circumstance of the coronation. The velvets were printed to look like ermine, and the Harris Tweed was also crafted into crowns.

These outfits were completed by fine-gauge knitwear twin-sets, manufactured by stolidly British firm John Smedley, or occasionally an 18th Century corset revived and reworked for ready-to-wear, both teamed with traditional debutante pearls, bringing a whole new look to the country.

Westwood’s love of Harris Tweed, reflected further in her own branding, was shown throughout her career and continues today. We’ll return to look at more of her work later in the year.

Calvin Klein, 1980:

Calvin Klein AD:

In 1980 a controversial Calvin Klein advertisement was banned from “Tiffany Network”; now CBS. It was at the peak of the rise of the sexy female form being used as a powerful weapon, and Richard Avedon used Brooke Shields as a revolutionary turning point for Calvin Klein. Exploiting the then 15-year-old model, as a desirable object, purring the lines; “You know what comes between me and my Calvin’s? Nothing.”

Calvin Klein’s ad’s progressed from this rapidly over time using playful innuendo to capture the attention of its viewers.

Calvin Klein took influence from film and body image, using the iconic Sigourney Weaver shot from Alien as a true inspiration. Skin, boobs and underwear, were seen to be a winner for the advertising world of the early 80s. Women were more relaxed about showing what God gave them, compared to the conservative tendencies of the 40s and 50s.  

This was the start of the revolution within advertising: SEX SELLS.

Rock Against Racism (RAR) was a campaign set up in the United Kingdom in 1976 as a response to an increase in racial conflict and the growth of white nationalist groups such as the National Front. The campaign involved pop, rock, punk and reggae musicians staging concerts with an anti-racist theme, in order to discourage young people from embracing racism. The campaign was founded, in part, as a response to statements and activities by well-known rock musicians that were widely regarded as racist.
History
Originally conceived as a one-off concert with a message against racism, Rock Against Racism was founded in 1976 by Red Saunders, Roger Huddle and others. According to Huddle, "it remained just an idea until August 1976" when Eric Clapton made a drunken declaration of support for former Conservative minister Enoch Powell (known for his anti-immigration Rivers of Blood speech) at a concert in Birmingham. Clapton told the crowd that England had "become overcrowded" and that they should vote for Powell to stop Britain from becoming "a black colony". He also told the audience that Britain should "get the foreigners out, get the wogs out, get the coons out", and then he repeatedly shouted the National Front slogan "Keep Britain White".
Huddle, Saunders and two members of Kartoon Klowns responded by writing a letter to NME expressing their opposition to Clapton's comments, which they claimed were "all the more disgusting because he had his first hit with a cover of reggae star Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" ... Come on Eric... Own up. Half your music is black. Who shot the Sheriff, Eric? It sure as hell wasn't you!". At the end of the letter, they called for people to help form a movement called Rock Against Racism, and they report that they received hundreds of replies.[2]
Clapton later claimed that his remarks were made as a joke, and that he did not know anything about politics at the time[citation needed]. In a 2007 interview, however, he said he still supports Powell, and that he doesn't view Powell as a racist.[5]
Further support for RAR came after David Bowie, speaking as The Thin White Duke, his persona at the time, made statements that expressed support for fascism and perceived admiration for Adolf Hitler in interviews with Playboy, NME and a Swedish publication. Bowie was quoted as saying: "Britain is ready for a fascist leader... I think Britain could benefit from a fascist leader. After all, fascism is really nationalism... I believe very strongly in fascism, people have always responded with greater efficiency under a regimental leadership." He was also quoted as saying: "Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars" and "You've got to have an extreme right front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up."[6] Bowie caused further controversy by allegedly making a Nazi salute while riding in a convertible, although Bowie has always strongly denied this, insisting that a photographer simply caught him in the middle of waving.[7] Bowie's claim seems to be borne out by existing footage of the event.[8]
Bowie later retracted and apologised for his statements, blaming them on a combination of an obsession with occultism, the Thule Society and Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as his excessive drug use at the time. He said: "I have made my two or three glib, theatrical observations on English society and the only thing I can now counter with is to state that I am NOT a fascist."[9]
RAR's first activity was a concert featuring Carol Grimes as lead artist, and it also launched the fanzine Temporary Hoarding.[citation needed] In spring 1978, 100,000 people marched six miles from Trafalgar Square to the East End of London (a National Front hotspot) for an open-air music festival at Victoria Park in Hackney organized by RAR and the Anti-Nazi League, to counteract the growing wave of racist attacks in the UK.[10][11][12][13] The concert featured The Clash,[12][14][15] Buzzcocks, Steel Pulse, X-Ray Spex, The Ruts, Sham 69, Generation X and the Tom Robinson Band. The Southall-based reggae band Misty In Roots led the march from back of a lorry during the carnival,[16] although did not appear on the main stage. A second march and concert at Brockwell Park in south London, featured Stiff Little Fingers, Aswad and Elvis Costello.[17] In autumn of the same year, an audience of 25,000 came to the Northern Carnival in Manchester, for a concert featuring Buzzcocks, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Misty in Roots.[18] In 1979, a concert was held at Acklam Hall in London, featuring Crisis, The Vapors and Beggar.
The group behind the original Rock Against Racism launched a new website on April 27, 2008.
Love Music Hate Racism
RAR was reborn in 2002 as Love Music Hate Racism, with a concert at The Astoria in London, England featuring Mick Jones, Buzzcocks, and The Libertines. Other acts involved in the campaign include Ms. Dynamite and The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. With a goal of counteracting the activities of organizations such as the National Front and the British National Party, it has held high-profile concerts in Trafalgar Square and Victoria Park as well as some other stadiums and venues.
Source: wikipedia

New Romantics:

The New Romantics were a fashion movement that peaked in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s. It was often associated with new wave music scene that had become popular at that time, as the two often intertwined. Spandau Ballet, for instance, was New Romantic both fashion-wise and music-wise. Adam and the Ants, however, while certainly New Romantic in the fashion sense, were post punk musically.

The genesis of the look took place largely through the nightclub Billy’s in Dean Street, London, which ranBowie and Roxy Music nights in the late 1970s. Teens & twentysomethings at the time were becoming disillusioned with punk rock, thinking it had lost it’s original appeal and they had nothing to identify with.Bowie and Roxy Music quickly became these ‘New Romantic’ idols. In 1979, the growing popularity of the club forced organizers Steve Strange (Visage) and DJ Rusty Egan to relocate to a larger venue in Great Queen Street called the Blitz, which was also a wine bar.
The goal of the patrons was self expression and to be unique, cool and noticed.
The Blitz club quickly became known for the colourful and flamboyant fashions of its patrons (who became known as the Blitz Kids), which greatly contrasted with the ripped/offensive t-shirts and jeans associated with the punk movement of the time. Both sexes often dressed in counter-sexual or androgynous clothing and the guys thought nothing of wearing eyeliner, eyeshadow and lipstick. Many wore frilly fops shirts in the style of the English Romantic period, or exaggerated versions of upscale fashion and grooming which drew influence from sources such as glam fashions of the 1970s, science fiction films as well as the golden age of Hollywood.
Clubgoers frequently made it a point to dress as uniquely as they possibly could in attempt to draw the most attention to themselves. Midge Ure credits David Bowie for spreading the New Romantic look. Bowie cast Steve Strange and a few other Blitz Kids in his video Ashes to Ashes and, according to Ure, within two weeks New Romantics were popping up in clubs all over the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world.
Musically, New Romantics spawned many bands. Blitz owners Steve Strange and Rusty Egan joined Billy Currie and Midge Ure of Ulltravox to form Visage. Boy George and Marilyn worked in the cloakroom of The Blitz; George obviously formed Culture Club while Marilyn became a well known and loved solo artist. As with most things, the movement moved out from London to other regions and soon New Romantics popped up in other places. *Bands such as Adam and the Ants, Ultravox, Japan, Visage, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran were labeled New Romantics whether they were or not. The actual term New Romanticis disputably reported to have been coined by Richard James Burgess (studio drummer, producer & author) in an interview with reference to Spandau Ballet.
Speaking of Spandau Ballet, as previously stated, they were New Romantics. Indeed, they debuted at the Blitz and were patrons before that. Their debut was actually headlining the Blitz’s Christmas party in 1979. The band had been invited to play after exclusively inviting Strange et al to come and see them play. The played To Cut A Long Story Short and needless to say, impressed their audience.
*Musically speaking new wave/synth pop and New Romantics seemed to criss-cross in the media and thus the public’s perception melded the two together. Ironically, Culture Club and Marilyn weren’t New Romantics, despite having been Blitz Kids. Japan, Adam and the Ants and Duran Duran have all downplayed or denied outright that they were New Romantic. Certainly Adam and the Ants and Duran Duran were actually post punk and pop/rock. Duran, however, did ride the New Romantic bandwagon for promotional purposes but quickly discarded the look by mid ’81.
New Romantic music is tied into heavily synthesized music – such as Ultravox/Visage & Human League.
The spirit of the New Romantics lives on at Ashes to Ashes club night in London, which is run by a group of enthusiasts. The club is endorsed by Rusty Egan and Steve Strange. The era was creative and fascinating and each kid took Bowie’s Heroes as their anthem – that, despite the misery and bleakness of the era, they could be a hero – just for one day.
Source: coolinthe80s

Run DMC’s influence on Adidas' popularity in the 1980s.

Sport met fashion and music in 1986 when hip hop group Run DMC recorded its devotion to street wear on the track “My Adidas”. Sweatshirts, track pants and trainers were appropriated by a generation of men and women who threw away the laces and decorated themselves with heavy weight gold jewellery. In the 1970s, Adidastrainers had been an anti-establishment fashion statement worn with jeans, but in the defiant, label aware 1980s branding took over and an unsuspecting sportswear company found itself at the heart of a fashion movement. 

Tracksuits became popular as leisure wear and jog pants would become a general trend in the decades that followed. In the 1936 Olympics, Jesse Owens, a black American runner, won four gold medals wearing a pair of trainers made by cobbler Adi Dassler (Adidas) and his brother, Rudolph. They had seen a gap in the market for high performance athletic shoes in 1920 and they started to build what was to become a label as important to street fashion as it was to sport. Ensembles featuring the colors of Africa (green, yellow and red) became wildly popular among African Americans, and so did the kente clothmainly woven in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Source: afroccentric

Margaret Thatcher:

Margaret Thatcher reined the UK throughout the 1980s and had a massive influence on fashion and style, as well as social, cultural and political issues.

Following her death, today, the 8th of April 2013, there has been a massive influx of articles relating to her fashion influences which can be seen below:


'Never flashy, just appropriate': How Margaret Thatcher became a style icon with power-suits and pussybow blouses  

  • Iron Lady always believed in wearing clothes 'in which you are comfortable'
  • She wanted to be well-dressed because she was 'representing my country'
  • She admitted her image became 'part of the job' as PM

As Britain's first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was not only pioneering in politics but also in fashion, setting an example of how she believed women in power should dress.

During her time as PM in the Eighties, she became famous for her power dressing suits, pussybow blouses and, of course, her treasured pearls.

The Iron Lady, who died today aged 87, summed up her style as 'never flashy, just appropriate.'

Signature style: Margaret Thatcher became known for her smart suits, practical heels and pearls
Signature style: Margaret Thatcher became known for her smart suits, practical heels and pearls
Signature style: Margaret Thatcher became known for her smart suits, practical heels and pearls

The former Conservative leader spoke of her fashion choices in an interview with Dr Miriam Stoppard for Yorkshire TV in 1985, saying she did have to be conscious of her image but she was more concerned with feeling comfortable than stylish.
She said: 'What you do is decide the clothes in which you are comfortable. You must be comfortable. You are going to a great occasion. It must be a style that you are comfortable in. Must be a fabric that you are comfortable in, that hangs well, and you must know that you look appropriate for the occasion. Never flashy, just appropriate.' 

She continued: 'It is not unfeminine to be well-tailored. Indeed, it often perhaps concentrates on what you are going to say if you have got well-tailored things on because people no longer look at your clothes.'

Feminine touch: She said she often wore pussybow blouses because they were 'rather softening andrather pretty'

Feminine touch: She said she often wore pussybow blouses because they were 'rather softening andrather pretty'
Feminine touch: She said she often wore pussybow blouses because they were 'rather softening and pretty'

Substance over style: The Baroness said she always aimed to dress appropriately

Substance over style: The Baroness said she always aimed to dress appropriately

Baroness Thatcher admitted that what she wore 'became part of the job' because she was 'representing the country'.

She admitted to Dr Stoppard that she didn't always get it right.  She regretted wearing a blue and white striped hat in the Seventies when she was the education secretary because she realised it wasn't fitting for her role.

'It was a very smart hat. The fact was it would have done for an actress, but it was not quite right for a politician. I learned that lesson ever since. If you are going to wear a smart hat, wear a very plain one,' she said.

The Baroness' signature style was one that she honed during her time as PM. Growing up as the daughter of a grocer, she was used to being on her feet and helping in the shop.

This helped her become aware of the practicalities of fashion - comfortable shoes like her low heels were always preferable over high heels, no matter how stylish.

Her mother and father were also frugal which taught her to buy clothes and accessories that lasted - like her black Asprey handbag that would last for decades. It still looked as good as new when it sold at auction at Christie's for £25,000 in 2011.

Abi Morgan researched Baroness Thatcher's fashion when writing the script for the film The Iron Lady.

The film depicts how the Baroness was advised on how to make her image less frumpy on her bid to win power including giving up wearing hats and pearls.

She refused on the latter because they were of sentimental value - given to her by her husband Denis when their twins were born.

Morgan said when the film was released: 'The star-makers may have told her what to wear but she already knew how to dress - she was of that generation of women trained to appear in a certain way, hair set, with a proper hat, gloves, bag and shoes. The grooming was very regal, and her uniform had a regality about it.'

Morgan's belief that the former Prime Minster 'knew how to dress' is backed up by Marianne Abrahams, the design director of one of the politician's favourite labels, Aquascutum.


'She knows precisely what she wants and she's particular about the fit of the shoulders,' she said of designing some of her bespoke suits in the Eighties.

While the Baroness knew what she wore in the male dominated world of politics would help her to be taken seriously, she also did not want to lose her femininity. 

'You do not lose your feminine qualities just because you are a Prime Minister,' she said. 

This is why she loved her pussybow blouse so much. 'I often wear bows; they are rather softening, they are rather pretty,' she said.

When it came to the colour of her clothes, she was always keen to tow the party line - maintaining that her favourite shade was always 'my party's colour' sapphire blue.

She often chose to wear this colour for public appearances long after she was voted out of power. 

Her fashion choices were often replicated in the Eighties and thanks to the release of The Iron Lady film, other elements of her style have revived in popularity including the Peter Pan collar and midi length skirt. 

Many people have championed her style over the years including handbag entrepreneur Anya Hindmarch who once told Vogue, 'I am a lifelong fan of Margaret Thatcher.


She said: 'Margaret Thatcher dressed as a strong woman and developed a style that was very much her own brand. The hair, the bow, the pearls and the handbag all became iconic.'

Source: dailymail

Bill Cosby:

You’ve heard it before, and no doubt you’ll hear it again: The Cosby sweater is back with a vengeance. The ubiquitous gaudy knits, named after those worn by comedian Bill Cosby on “The Cosby Show,” are beloved by everyone from irony-laden thrifters to fashion’s top designers. Not unlike the ugly Christmas sweater trend, Cosby’s flamboyant knitwear has become a cultural touchstone. Yet beyond our standard nostalgia for the ostentatious ’80s, the reasons why the world went Cosby sweater-crazy are less clear. So we asked Dr. Bill Cosby himself.
“We’re talking about the knit woolen things that look like the sheep were different colors or fell in some paint, right?” Cosby says over the phone. “Isn’t that what you’re talking about?”
Exactly. Besides referring to the sweaters sported by Cosby’s character, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, to invoke the phrase “Cosby sweater” is to call something garish, tacky, and outdated—in an affectionate way. And in the cyclical world of fashion design, such passé looks have recently inspired a swath ofcontemporary looks featuring bold, geometric patterns and incorporating a mishmash of colors and textures.
Cosby himself doesn’t even remember when he first heard the term “Cosby sweater,” and is hard-pressed to explain why the style is such a phenomenon among young people today.
“I have no idea, and I’m not going to make up anything,” says Cosby, “but I think youthful people have a long time to live, so they can waste some time on something like that.” If you do have some time to waste, check out popular blogs like Huxtable Hotness and the Cosby Sweater Project, which document the intricacies of “The Cosby Show” style, breaking down the fascination one sweater at a time.
Top: A Cosby kaleidoscope. Image via LIFE magazine. Above: For "The Cosby Sweater Project," Kelly Tucker creates an original drawing of a knitted garment from each episode of the show.
Top: A Cosby kaleidoscope. Image via LIFE magazine. Above: For “The Cosby Sweater Project,” Kelly Tucker creates an original drawing of a knitted garment from each episode of the show.
Though writing the sweater phenomenon off as another meme-driven, nostalgic obsession doesn’t really hold up when you start watching reruns. The more episodes you see, the more you realize that Cosby actually wore an insanely large collection of kaleidoscopic sweaters. What’s the deal?
“He said, like Betsy Ross to George Washington, ‘I will make you a sweater.’”
In fact, Cosby adopted the fuzzy fashions out of necessity: Costume designer Sarah Lemire, who worked with Cosby from his sweater vest Jell-O ad days, says that initially, she had various suits made for Dr. Huxtable to wear. They quickly realized that Cosby, and by extension Dr. Huxtable, couldn’t really be at ease wearing a suit around the house. “Bill basically likes to be comfortable, and in his real life, he’s in his sweats or his PJs,” says Lemire.
Avoiding straitlaced, white-collar attire also made Dr. Huxtable a more dynamic character. “I wanted to get away from the white coat all the time,” says Cosby, “or the blue blazer look, with the khaki pants and the penny loafers.” In contrast, Dr. Huxtable’s sweaters infused the show with a contagious, creative energy.
This atmosphere was also fostered by the unique production environment for “The Cosby Show.” Director Jay Sandrich wanted to capitalize on Cosby’s ability to improvise and build off his audience’s reactions by filming the program in two separate takes with a live studio audience, then selecting the best shots from each take. Lemire says that Cosby often strayed from the script, following his gut if he thought it might get a better laugh. “It was incredible and it came out of nowhere, and the director knew to grab that.”
As a result, the show often relied on close-up shots of Cosby to capture such moments of improvised humor. However, tight shots like these caused problems when matching the scenes from two different takes, as a slight difference in costume positioning would become a glaring mistake.
“Usually you don’t do close-ups on TV, and that’s why we started using sweaters,” says Lemire. “As our bodies move around, the clothes are going to shift between the first and second take. If you have a jacket on, and the shirt collar’s in one spot, it’s going to slide off a little on one side or the other, or it might do something else that didn’t match. Sandrich was a real stickler for things matching, so we just did the sweater thing. I actually sewed his shirts to the sweaters so that nothing moved.”
Once they settled upon sweaters as the costume of choice, selecting a print was equally complicated: The available camera technology meant that certain patterns and textures had to be carefully avoided. “The show was shot with multi-cameras,” says Lemire, “and back then they had a lot of problems with strobing, so it was very difficult to use certain patterns.” The stockinette stitch, a standard on most sweaters, alternates rows of knitted and purled stitches, which results in a subtle ribbing or stripe effect. The cameras used for “The Cosby Show” made even solid-colored stockinette sweaters vibrate or strobe when onscreen.
Cosby in another KOOS sweater.
Cosby in yet another lovely KOOS sweater.
Director Sandrich was also adamant about giving each character a different look. “We had seven people on camera at the same time,” says Lemire, “and he didn’t want two people to wear the same color. Well, that’s a little difficult to have seven different colors out there, so we started doing patterns. ”
Thus Lemire turned to the complicated prints that made up much of the fashion lexicon during the 1980s. “The predominant company that made Bill’s sweaters was Perry Ellis, and that’s because they didn’t cost too much money, they used a flatter knit, and they would have patterns, meaning I could have color there without Bill being in a solid color, which would segue into whatever Phylicia Rashād or the kids were wearing.”
Though today, any kooky sweater might be called a “Cosby sweater,” there was one brand whose garish style didn’t quite make the show’s cut—the Australian label Coogi. “My sweaters were busy to a certain point, but it wasn’t to that extreme,” says Lemire. “I still can’t stand those.”
So where did Lemire find all these fabulous garments? “I had very little money to use, and it never grew to very much, so I borrowed stuff. The garment district, and Missoni in particular, was wonderful about loaning them.” Ultimately, Cosby’s sweaters came from all kinds of sources, ranging from mainstream department store labels to handmade, one-of-a-kind items.
Early in the show’s run, an architecture student in Boston sent Lemire photographs of some interesting pieces she had knitted, which began a collaborative relationship. “Because Bill runs track, and we did an episode where we shot him running at the Penn Relays, she made one with Bill running on the sweater,” explains Lemire. “Another she did was the skyline of New York City, with fireworks above it. Those were both sweaters that I designed and she knitted.”
Cosby wears a custom track sweater, conceived by costume director Sarah Lemire and executed by a Boston architecture student.
Cosby wears a custom track-themed sweater, conceived by costume director Sarah Lemire and executed by a Boston architecture student.
Perhaps the most iconic Cosby sweaters were those designed by Koos Van Den Akker, which were actually discovered by Cosby, rather than his costume designer. Though Mr. Huxtable wore many sweaters with wild colors and patterns, Van Den Akker’s designs raised the bar by incorporating a pastiche of different textures as well.
“And in those days you also got shoulder pads, for free.”
Raised in Holland, Van Den Akker came to New York via Paris in 1968, after having worked as an apprentice at Christian Dior. In 1970, he opened his first store on Columbus Avenue with his signature collaged women’s wear, and the curious reviews followed soon after. “They had no idea what my stuff was about,” says Van Den Akker, “whether it was home sewing or something more than that. Most of the time they went with home sewing, but it didn’t matter. People had never seen this kind of stuff, so it was weird and strange and different.”
By the late 1970s, Van Den Akker’s designs for his eponymous KOOS label were sold in top department stores and sported by trend-setting celebrities. One of those stars was the singer and actress Josephine Premice, whose unconventional garments apparently caught the notice of Mr. Cosby and his wife, Camille, in the mid ’80s.
“Josephine was very tastefully flamboyant, and Mrs. Cosby, my un-flamboyant wife, noticed and loved some of the things she was wearing,” says Cosby. “I remember Josephine saying to Camille, ‘I had a fur coat, and it was so old,’ Josephine laughed, ‘that there were holes worn in it, and there was nothing I could do.’ Koos said to her, ‘Bring it to me and I’ll make a coat for you with the pieces.’ Whereupon, with his genius mind he began to mathematically put together the best pieces of the coat along with other fabrics. He styled the coat into a new invention that was eye-catching and tasteful and had women going after Josephine, to hit her in the head and take the coat off of her. Because you know that’s the way women are; they will do that.”
Cosby believes the first KOOS sweater he ever received appeared on the paperback version of his book, "Fatherhood."
Cosby believes the first KOOS sweater he ever received appeared on the paperback version of his book, “Fatherhood.”
Premice took Mrs. Cosby to get her own coat repaired by Van Den Akker, and the result thoroughly impressed Mr. Cosby. “Geometric is the word,” he says, “the genius of geometric working pieces and cuts.” Shortly thereafter, Cosby received his first KOOS sweater as a birthday gift from Premice, around the time when “The Cosby Show” debuted in the fall of 1984.
Van Den Akker admits that this first garment was just an ordinary, extra-large women’s sweater he had hanging in his show room. “She just took it off the rack, this big women’s size, and took it to Bill. He put it on, and it looked great, and he had to go on camera right away so he kept it on, and that is how it began.”
Eventually, Cosby went to Van Den Akker’s shop himself to seal the deal. “You know Betsy Ross?” asks Cosby. “She said to George Washington, ‘Let me make you a flag or sew you a flag,’ or something. Well this is how Koos’ sweaters started with me. He said, like Betsy Ross, ‘I will make you a sweater.’” Besides the eye-catching patterns, Cosby was delighted with Van Den Akker’s inventive collages of high-quality fabrics, including wool, silk, leather, and camel hair. “And in those days you also got shoulder pads, for free,” Cosby adds.
Van Den Akker and Cosby together in the 1980s.
Van Den Akker and Cosby together in the 1980s.
“I used all kinds of materials,” says Van Den Akker, “but it’s more about the colors. I like muddy colors and moody stuff. I love it all. My workroom is one big pile of fabrics; it’s a huge mess and it’s wonderful. Today everybody is doing collaged clothing, but in the ’70s and ’80s, I was alone. I was the only one.”
However, Lemire points out that Van Den Akker’s typical collages didn’t work so well under “The Cosby Show” filming conditions. “Van Den Akker’s work is fantastic, but he used patterns that would not have worked on camera, so I’d go over and talk with him and we’d put together the ones that would work, and he would make a sweater where it was something I could use.” As a result, Van Den Akker’s sweaters appeared more during the introductory credits than in actual episodes. “I could do them in the opening titles, because that was done on film, and later transferred to tape,” says Lemire. “So you see them in the opening titles more than anyplace else.”

Grunge:

The term “grunge” is used to define a specific moment in twentieth-century music and fashion. Hailing from the northwest United States in the 1980s, grunge went on to have global implications for alternative bands and do-it-yourself (DIY) dressing. While grunge music and style were absorbed by a large youth following, its status as a self-conscious subculture is debatable. People who listened to grunge music did not refer to themselves as “grungers” in the same way as “punks” or “hippies.” However, like these subcultures, grunge was co-opted by the music and fashion industries through its promotion by the media.


Grunge Music

The word “grunge” dates from 1972, but did not enter popular terminology until the birth of the Seattle sound, a mix of heavy-metal, punk, and good old-fashioned rock and roll, in the late 1980s. Many musicians associated with grunge credit their exposure to early punk bands as one of their most important influences.
Like San Francisco in the 1960s, Seattle in the 1980s was a breeding ground for music that spoke to its youth. The independent record label Sub Pop recorded many of the Seattle bands inexpensively and was partly responsible for their garage sound. Many of these bands went on to receive international acclaim and major record label representation, most notably The Melvins, Mudhoney, Green River, Soundgarden, Malfunkshun, TAD, and Nirvana. Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, was released in 1991, making Nirvana the first of this growing scene to go multiplatinum and Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s lead singer, the reluctant voice of his generation.

(Sub)Cultural Context

The youth movements most often associated and compared to grunge—hippie and punk—were driven both by music and politics. Punks and hippies used music and fashion to make strong statements about the world and are often referred to as “movements” due to this political component. While the youth of 1980s Seattle were aware of politics, grunge was fueled more by self-expression— sadness, disenchantment, disconnectedness, loneliness, frustration—and perhaps was an unintentional movement of sorts. There does not appear to have been a common grunge goal, such as punk’s “anarchy” or the hippies’ “peace.” Despite this lack of unifying intentionality, grunge gave voice to a bored, lost, emotionally neglected, post-punk generation—Generation X.

Grunge Fashion

If punk’s antifashion stance can be interpreted as “against fashion,” then that of grunge can be seen as “nonfashion.” The grunge youth, born of hippies and raised on punk, reinterpreted these components through their own post-hippie, post-punk, West Coast aesthetic. Grunge was essentially a slovenly, thoughtless, uncoordinated look, but with an edge. Iconic items for men and women were ripped and faded jeans, flannel shirts or wool Pendletons layered over dirty T-shirts with outdated logos, and black combat-style boots such as Dr. Martens. Because the temperature in Seattle can swing by 20 degrees in the same day, it is convenient to have a wool long-sleeved button-down shirt that can be easily removed and tied around one’s waist. The style for plaid flannel shirts and wool Pendletons is regional, having been a longtime staple for local lumberjacks and logging-industry employees—it was less a fashion choice than a utilitarian necessity.
The low-budget antimaterialist philosophy brought on by the recession made shopping at thrift stores and army surplus outlets common, adding various elements to the grunge sartorial lexicon, including beanies for warmth and unkempt hair, long underwear worn under shorts (in defiance of the changeable weather), and cargo pants. Thrift-store finds, such as vintage floral-print dresses and baby-doll nightgowns, were worn with oversized sweaters and holey cardigans. Grunge was dressing down at its most extreme, taking casualness and comfort dressing to an entirely new level.

Grunge Chic

The first mention of grunge in the fashion industry was in Women’s Wear Daily on 17 August 1992: “Three hot looks—Rave, Hip Hop and Grunge—have hit the street and stores here, each spawned by the music that’s popular among the under-21 set.” The style that had begun on the streets of Seattle had finally hit New York and was heading across the Atlantic. Later that same year, Grace Coddington (editor) and Steven Meisel (fashion photographer) did an eight-page article and layout for Vogue with the help of a Sub Pop cofounder and owner Jonathan Poneman: “Flannels, ratty tour shirts, boots, and baseball caps have become a uniform for those in the know, and their legions are growing” (p. 254). The fashion machine was drawn to the utilitarian aspects of grunge as well as the juxtapositions of textures and the old against the new. Marc Jacobs is credited with bringing grunge to the runway with his spring 1993 collection for Perry Ellis. He was later followed by such designers as Calvin Klein, Christian Francis Roth, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Anna Sui, and Versace who all came out with layered and vintage looks made out of luxury fabrics.
Ultimately, grunge failed as a high-fashion trend because its vitality came from the unique and personal art of combining clothes and accessories from wildly disparate and idiosyncratic sources. Grunge was not easily repackaged and sold to the people who related to it because it was out of their price range and the upscale consumer was not taking the bait. Where grunge worked well was at low to moderate price points as middle-class kids across America were buying pre-ripped jeans, beanies, and flannels all the while dancing to Nirvana.

Post-Grunge World

Repackaging was also the fate of grunge music as every major record label tried to find the next Nirvana, and bands like Pearl Jam and Bush filled stadiums but paid little homage to grunge’s punk roots. Nevertheless, grunge ultimately managed to revive rock and roll, redefine the music of the 1990s by bringing the focus back to the guitar, and make the word “alternative” meaningless in the twenty-first century as alternative music is now the music of the masses.
What grunge did for music it also did for fashion. Grunge opened the door to recycled clothes for everyone as a fashionable, and even a chic, choice. Grunge defined a new approach to dressing that included layering and juxtapositions of patterns and textures. The DIY approach to dress has become the norm, giving the consumer the freedom to choose, to not be a slave to one look or designer, and the confidence to create personal ensembles with the goal of self-expression through style.
Working Girl:
Working Girl, released on this day in 1988, is the era’s quintessential Cinderella story, the tale of a 30-year-old woman searching for business rather than romantic success. With one quick snip of the scissors through her teased, bleached tresses, Tess McGill, played by Melanie Griffith, begins her transformation from Staten Island secretary to Manhattan business maven. Next, she sheds the tell-tale accent and her ridiculous Reeboks for the better contents of new boss Katherine Parker’s closet while the latter is laid up in Switzerland following a skiing accident. This is not only a self-made Cinderella but an opportunistic one, too.
Tess is an assertive heroine, so hungry to get ahead that she agrees to push around a dim sum cart like a street vendor at a welcoming party for Katherine, played by Sigourney Weaver. As Tess’ Aqua Velvet–coated hair begins to wilt, she watches Katherine, wearing an eye-catching, devilish red dress, masterfully handle all the dark suits in the room.
Katherine is Tess’s first female boss, and one two weeks younger, no less. When they first meet, Katherine’ simple strand of pearls contrasts markedly with Tess’ chunky metal jewelry. Katherine’s no-nonsense manner, her clearly stated ground rules and her insistence that Tess call her by her first name all set her apart from Tess’ former bosses. We sense that things are looking up for Tess. Even her sartorial metamorphosis begins with a little advice from Katherine, who misquotes Coco Chanel’s adage, “dress shabbily and they notice the dress; dress impeccably and they notice the woman.” Taking the advice to “rethink [her] jewelry,” Tess heads to the bathroom to shed about ten pounds of bangles.
Symbolizing both power and class, clothes play a pivotal role in the film’s arc. Once Tess learns that Katherine has stolen her idea for a radio merger with media mogul Trask Industries, she decides its time to jump into the fast lane and seize the success she realizes she’ll never achieve if she continues to play by the rules. Tess transcends her blue-collar background by raiding Katherine’s sophisticated wardrobe of Anne Klein– and Dana Buchman– looking separates.
I must confess that I always get a little verclempt when I hear Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run,” the song that fades and swells at strategic moments throughout the film. The crescendo reminds me of the camera panning in on the Statue of Liberty, the quintessential symbol of the American Dream, then cutting to the Staten Island Ferry on its way to the promise of Manhattan, carrying busy 9-to-5ers with teased plumes of hair; huge helpings of multi-hued eyeshadows and shiny white tennies and socks over pantyhose. Costume designer Ann Roth got a lot of inspiration for the film’s wardrobe by watching real women disembark the Staten Island Ferry. In Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design, Roth says, “The hair was very exciting to me—you know, it was the big tease. It was the 1980s [with] a Staten Island flavor. They usually don’t come to Manhattan, but those girls who come and work as secretaries, getting off the boat, their shoes would be in their purses…and they were sexy. That’s the point. They were very sexy.”
Mostly dressed in soft colors, Tess is portrayed as sweet and naïve; warm in opposition to icy Katherine. Contrasted with Katherine’s fierce, red dress, Tess crashes her first business party wearing Katherine’s flouncy black dress with a sweetheart neckline. Her femininity clashes with the other businesswomen dressed in linebacker shoulder pads, bow-tie blouses and boxy suits, who think they must act and dress like men to succeed. Through Tess, the film provides a revolutionary view of a contemporary businesswoman: a woman who can achieve success while retaining her soft, feminine side. As Tess purrs to her Prince Charming, played by a young and adorable Harrison Ford (that chin scar gets me every time), “I have a head for business and a bod for sin.” She is what many women aspire to be: sexy yet serious at the office; fashionable yet fearless in the boardroom. These are women who understand that Louboutin red soles aren’t just for effect, they are for showing off as they lead the way up the corporate ladder. —Kristine Lloyd
American Gigolo, Emporio Armani:
American Gigolo (1980, directed by Paul Schrader) is a vapid expression of style without substance that has somehow become an academic’s favourite. Yet to argue the emptiness of the film and its bland protagonist as subtext is to miss the big picture: American Gigolo is not even about its protagonist; it is about what he wears. American Gigolo is about Armani.
It was Italian designers who led a revolution in tailoring during the early 1980s, reinventing the male suit by removing hitherto essential padding for a lightweight, almost floppy silhouette. Combined with unusual fabric choices and bold colours, they defined the decade. Giorgio Armani was at the forefront of this revolution, certainly in terms of bringing it to the masses. Moreover, his clothes were just as popular with both sexes, the GA logo coming to symbolise luxurious excess disguised as simple class.
Armani trained with Nino Cerruti before becoming established under his own name in the late 1970s. Originally his garments were designed to accentuate men of a muscular build, but following French couturier Daniel Hechter’s lead in the mid-seventies, he changed direction. In 1980 Armani introduced long zoot style jackets and heavy trouser pleating, with oversized blousons and mannish tailoring for women.
These components that now characterise the Armani name as relaxed, classic Italian, were showcased in American Gigolo, representing perhaps the most successful brand promotion on film of all time. A suggestion not lost on the designer himself, as rumour has it Richard Gere can still walk into any Armani store and select whatever he wants off the rack for free; he did that much to sell the product.
Although costumed as a whole by Bernadene C. Mann, American Gigolo is all about Armani. In two hours it parades every single line across the screen: formal, semi-formal, casual, daytime, evening, leisurewear, underwear, accessories. The pretext is how these sartorial choices define Gere’s high class prostitute Julian, though really we are watching how his clothes define the Armani name; literally brand creation on film.
While Julian does have a backstory only hinted at during the movie, he is not as appealing as the clothes he wears. This is a perfect fit for Giorgio Armani, who clearly does not want his garments encapsulated by a whore, even if he is an expensive one. It is Richard Gere we recall before his character, and that was what Armani was tapping into. Dress like the star, not the character.
Julian is a narcissist; he enjoys his own appearance and, put simply, is attracted to himself. This leads to an obvious interpretation – that Julian is gay. This may or may not be true; certainly he has undertaken homosexual ‘tricks’ in the past. However this is ultimately irrelevant. It does not matter ‘what’ Julian is, it only matters how he is perceived. With American Gigolo, Armani was not selling a lifestyle choice; he was selling a look.
Julian’s narcissism is exemplified at its fullest as he strolls down L.A.’s designer aisle, laid-back in sports jacket, open neck shirt and jeans. He wants people to notice him just so he can ignore them. Note the way he derides Detective Sunday’s (Hector Elizondo) outmoded street attire then implies that it is not so much his clothes but his face that makes him unattractive. Julian likes to belittle through appearance because it is the only asset he has.
Yet, despite Julian’s questionable personality we still love his clothes. Perhaps implying that a man is not what he wears after all? Or perhaps we do not care about Julian’s disposition and just love Gere for wearing that wardrobe so well?
At risk of appearing hypercritical, there is little point in analysing Julian’s sartorial choices too deeply. Above all else the meaning of these costumes is style not character. It is more worthwhile to appreciate them for fashion’s sake. With this in mind, here is a selection of the most significant outfits Richard Gere wears in the movie and what it meant to the future of fashion that Armani* very shrewdly chose them:
Sports Jacket
As worn for Julian’s first meeting with high profile but lonely housewife Michelle (Lauren Hutton), whose clothes are made by Basile, although still similar to Armani in contruction. Julian’s single breasted, golden brown wool cashmere jacket is long in the skirt, ventless, with high notched lapels and prominently shaped shoulders. The silhouette is a combination of 1930s ‘New Deal’ muscular torso and 1940s zoot suit.
Later when Michelle arrives unexpectedly at Julian’s apartment, he wears a double breasted light grey flannel jacket with sporting-like yoke detail. Here the shoulders look even more defined; his hand on hip gesture causing the angular box shaping to jut out even further.
Interesting, in reference to the brown jacket, Julian wears his as a less austere alternative to the plain black chauffeur suit; interesting because throughout the 1990s, Armani was largely recognised for his plain black unadorned suit above all else.
Sunglasses
These are based on 1950s-era Ray Ban Wayfarer style, only with far larger frames and in a lighter tortoiseshell finish. Still coveted, but undoubtedly look better on Richard Gere than practically anyone else in history, onscreen or off.
Designer eyewear really hit its stride in the eighties, with movies such as American Gigolo and Tom Cruise’s breakthrough Risky Business (1985) selling the attitude that built the decade: conspicuous consumption was nothing to be ashamed of.
Linen Jacket
Cool in natural Italian linen, Julian meets ex-pimp Leon (Bill Duke) to report back from his ‘rough trick’. There is a sultry quality to linen that is instantly relaxing to the eye. Before Armani dressed Richard Gere in this unstructured, half-lined, rather longer than typical ventless version with grey shirt and pleated grey trousers, linen was hardly used for suiting in couture, with lightweight tropical wool normally chosen instead. From humble beginnings as a shirt fabric before the mid-19th century, linen is now regarded as something of a luxury, a concept that Armani’s American Gigolo typifies – owning a look for every occasion.
Being as it crumples so easily, especially the softer Italian yarn, few choose to wear linen on a regular basis. Some consider the creases to be a handsome characteristic of the fabric, others an ugly side-effect. A consumerist, conspicuous man such as Julian would probably view the fabric as demonstrable means. This is the Armani extravagance. Having an Italian linen suit in your rotation proves that you can afford it.
Cardigan, Shirt and Tie
A pale blue turndown colour shirt with the decade’s soon to be crucial short collar points, skinny patterned tie and ribbed shawl neck cardigan, worn with high waist linen mix trousers and leather Chelsea boots by Roots. At this point in the story, Julian’s life is beginning to deconstruct. Picked from a line-up in a murder investigation he rushes to the home of a wealthy, married client in an attempt to prove his alibi.
The inference here is that Julian’s attire reflects emotional changes within himself. He is getting sloppy, less ordered, irrational even. Yet from a historical perspective his outfit is still deemed ‘proper’, the shirt and tie a direct signifier of someone who is controlled in their dressing.
In fashion terms the eighties were about colour and texture. This is a good example of how the latter, a thick fisherman’s rib, has evolved from sportswear to fashion wear. Armani was an innovator in this respect too. Not only did he change the way we wore suits – for a full decade at least – he also evolved the traditional rules of formal/non-formal. Julian’s cardigan, shirt and tie are reminiscent of Albert Finney’s attire from Two For The Road (1967), and more recently a similar look was seen on Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace (2008) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
Tuxedo or Dinner Suit
Depending on where you reside, either in North America or the rest of the world, the tuxedo or dinner suit has been prescribed formal attire for over 150 years. It has changed little in this time, only in the gradual reduction of tail coat to frock coat to lounge jacket. Correct dress is presently the same as it was in 1980: white poplin shirt, wing collar or turndown, in plain front or pleated; black bow tie and black suit, single or double breasted with silk faced lapels or shawl collar. Wearing a tail coat in all but the most ceremonial of occasions died out after World War II.
Keen as ever to stamp his identity onto an ensemble, Giorgio Armani added a less common waistcoat to Julian’s dinner suit to fit under his single breasted jacket, that featured peaked lapels and a distinctive hand fastened black bow tie in crushed velvet. Although, in actual fact this is the one time Julian unavoidably becomes part of the crowd. He is used to being the centre of attention, yet there was only so much Armani could play with in Gere’s costume and still call it formal attire, which for this very public segment of the narrative it needed to be.
Sports Jacket and Jeans
This is a look that only existed from the 1980s onwards. Again shifting sartorial boundaries, in this instance between semi-formal and casual, Julian’s wool jacket nonchalantly slung over his shoulder and fitted, slightly retro pressed jeans; open neck shirt with sleeves rolled up and tortoiseshell sunglasses, is a classic crossover of Italian class and American prep.
Denim entered fashion mainstream during the 1970s. After a fifties rebellion of U.S. teenagers donning thick selvedge turn-ups and capri pants to upset mum and dad, now mum and dad owned a pair for themselves. Calvin Klein introduced the so-called designer jean in 1977, closely followed by Gloria Vanderbilt’s clever ‘swan’ branding exclusively for women a couple of years later. Armani was not at the forefront of this particular revolution, though he was one of the first to mix and match fabrics in this way.
Julian is at his most fascinating wearing this ensemble. That arrogant strut denoting total awareness of his beauty. He is a walking, talking tailor’s dummy, yet exudes such unstoppable sexuality that even a beautiful woman will degrade herself into following him in a pathetic disguise and diving for cover every time he clocks her presence.
Black Suit
The black suit is indelibly linked with movies. It is hugely symbolic, though the colour itself alludes different ideas to different stories, characters and situations. Recently it has meant savoir (The Matrix, 1999) or mysterious (Men in Black, 1997) or cool (Reservoir Dogs, 1992). The last example is particularly universal; for whatever else the black suit says about a person, stripped of all sub-textual intention it still projects a single, indestructible value: it looks good.
A certain irony can be appreciated with the suit in question, that those around Julian elicit a less than favourable response, as Leon mocks, “You look like you’ve come from a funeral”. For women, black remained the primary shade for evening wear in the eighties, but for men texture and colour were paramount.
There is a further paradox, in that if Armani, i.e. all the brand has encapsulated during its 35 year history, was reduced to one item it would likely be a plain black suit. Yet Julian is openly mocked for wearing his heart on his sleeve. Evidently the black suit would have to wait another twelve years for its revival in film, and it was the aforementioned Reservoir Dogs, costumed by Betsy Heimann, that achieved it.
Underwear
In short, soft grey jersey, it is worth noting just how much these trunks resemble modern men’s underwear. Any high street clothing store will sell a pair similar to these nowadays. Influence does not always have to be dramatic, sometimes big changes come in small packages, so to speak.
Legacy
Ask most cinemagoers to name five movies with memorable contemporary clothes and American Gigolo is sure to appear on their list. There is no denying that the costumes achieved their goal of facilitating a protagonist whose sole existence depended on the control of his appearance.
Although it was Giorgio Armani who received the ultimate prize; with American Gigolo he created a narrative for fashion – his fashion. This film established the Armani brand, and not just for years to come, but forever.
* Not every item Julian wears is Armani. Look closely and you will see a few other eighties specific designer brands in his closet.
source: clothesonfilm
Barbie:
First Black Barbie 1980- The first Black Barbie was introduced... finally. She came with a red business suit and to many, resembled Felicia Rashad, TV's then super mom, Claire Huxtable.  Since then, Black Barbie has stood beside her original in varying skin tones, facial features and hair styles to resemble and reflect African Americans.
source: thesoulmom




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