16 September 2014

Rock 'N' Roll and The Fashion Industry: A Symbiotic Relationship

"Fashion's not about looking back, it's about looking forward" proclaimed Anna Wintour in the documentary "The September Issue". As much as I truly respect the point she's trying to make, I find that to be simply counterfactual. Fashion is often paying homage to a style or designer of the past and re-creating and re-inventing certain looks of previous decades. Of course, there are designers who create something wonderfully unique and unlike anything to grace a runway before, but still, the design has been a result of inspiration from somewhere else. This may even be a subconscious process, but we all draw inspiration from the past.

The links between Rock music and fashion are plenty, many are just so impeccably natural that we don't even make the connection. In the 1950's, Rock 'n' roll hit the scene and was aimed predominantly at teenagers, the group of people who were also most fashion forward. Elvis Presley was of course an idol of his time and many followed suit, copying his popular look in hope to look half as cool as he did. Elvis was the Lady Gaga of his day as he dared to experiment with fashion, something reserved only for homosexual men at this time. Lots of pink, flashy jewellery, leather jackets and of course, the hair. The outfit of male teenage rebellion became tight blue jeans and a white t-shirt, often layered with a leather jacket. Long hair greased with vaseline and combed down the sides, known as the "ducktail" was the hairstyle to compliment the look.

The rivalry between Mods and Rockers hit in the 60's, not only did their music taste clash but their styles differed also. Girls often sported turtle necks, box dresses, pencil skirts polo dresses and flouncy floral dresses too. Ducktails were out and mop-tops were in thanks to The Beatles. They were the dream: the girls wanted to be with them and the guys wanted to be them. Their matching suits transformed over time into psychedelic, paisley and floral printed garments. They also had an Indian-inspired phase where they experimented with sandals and collarless shirts. Those current-day festival staples including tye dye t-shirts and floral headbands are the result of hippie fashion, deriving from rock musicians. Long flowing hair and nehru jackets were accessorised with a peace sign necklace and a joint.

Glam Rock had arrived in the 70's and there was plenty of glitter, high heels and camp behaviour to match. Flashy urban styles were popularised and brought to the fore-front of fashion. Bowie. I don't even need to expand on that, just Bowie. Punk groups tried to wear anything that made them stand out and differ to the norm so often opted for mock-conservative attire. Aesthetics were important to everyone and the Heavy Metal bands of the 80's were no exception. Leather or denim jackets and trousers, long hair and bucket loads of studs. The 90's was a grungy time where torn jeans, flannel shirts, backwards baseball hats and old shoes were thrown together as a form of self-expression.

Essentially every fashion house has taken inspiration from Rock in some shape or form. It may not be obvious, but it's certainly true. Famous figures in Rock music depend on fashion to remain true to the roots of the genre. Rock music, of course, isn't what it once was but the connection with fashion is as strong as ever - whether it's Alex Turner and Miles Kane frolicking in the front row of a Saint Laurent show, or Liam Gallagher's success with his "Pretty Green" clothing range. Modern rock music and fashion still go hand-in-hand.

Gucci's recent campaigns are 60's inspired and the pastel shades just scream Mod, while the colourful military jackets of Balmain's new collection are reminiscent of a certain Sgt. Pepper's cover. Girls flounce around in their Rolling Stones band tees and ripped jeans, inexplicably oblivious to the history surrounding the band and its legacy. It's even become a marketing strategy for companies, so much so that it's easy to tell what kind of music someone listens to simply by looking at them. Making the conscious decision to wear a certain piece of clothing is a form of self-expression, as is music, so naturally the two combine and allow you to portray yourself in a way that you wish to be seen by others.