To some people fashion trends ascend and descend without any logic. One season it's puffy jackets that don't reach belly-button, next it's same puffy jackets but reaching ankles and large enough to house a family of five.
The reality is that fashion in its development is quite similar to nature. Studying volcanoes, continents moving, glaciers shaping territories they move through- all these rely on certain rules and if observed, to some extent can be predicted.
Fashion should be treated like continental drift - a force of nature with important note of man-made fracking which is adding another factors along the way that will affect the result. Influences from inside, influences from the outside, maybe a huge space rock that causes extinction level event. That is how fashion's future works.
Fashion's past works in a different way and weirdly, metaphor about carbon dating is no good here.
Looking back it may make no sense why one generation of women wore bustle - and why their granddaughters replaced it with shapeless dresses with no waist and hip definition and God have mercy - these ended just below the knees.
So it may seem fashion develops without any logic or growth, these are just inventions after inventions of designers marketing new trends to simply make money, they fake it till they make it. There is no narrative told by trends descending after each other, these are pointless repetitions, fakery turned trend by desperate marketing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Fashion is like lake's bottom or Earth's layers - it's made entirely on logical build-up. Like contouring make-up. Like a lake's bottom.
Or like a real pearl.
Every previous trend that ever was dictates the next one, the latest one being a key to transition. Social changes are monumental here - what will be worn next is largely influenced by what kind of progress or thinking society is ready for next. The statement does not have to be popular among the masses immediately after conception and release- if it isn't, it probably is the correct key to this tune. Firstly, it should be welcomed with skepticism.
You might not believe me, and you will be right. Not all fashion trends work this way - only the milestones. Sometimes trends don't happen loudly, they continue smoothly building up, adding something, taking something away, allowing some inspiration of previous fashion, etc. That can be observed over following years - what people wear in 2012 will not be that different than what people wore in 2011. Runways can, but don't have to adhere to this rule, it's what people wear on streets that is the loudest voice in my subjective understanding. That's the observation I consider valid because people will look at runway/Vogue and pick some designs and then try to replicate without possibility of affording it or replicating it exactly as it should be. That's how a trend becomes alive.
During the WWII silk was pulled from shelfs because it was needed to make parachutes for soldiers. That meant women could no longer wear hosiery they wanted. Solution bcame widespread: women used gravy to paint the lines at the back of their legs that imitated actual stockings.
It wasn't long till women were painting lines on each other and enterpreneurial business people came up with parlors where women had their legs painted for them and products that were used to paint legs perfectly.
The title of this post is "origin" but I am not going to be describing how grunge started. Why?
Why another movie with Spiderman's origin story and why so many in the last two decades? You all know he got bit by an elephant who had rabies and developed super elephant powers.
To find out how grunge fashion started, please go to Wikipedia and search "grunge"; their article about fashion is surprisingly coherent. There is no need to recount how lumberjacks, cheap one dollar flannels, no haircut, bad hair days and second-hand items became fashionable - most likely you either know that or instinctively feel that.
Sometimes a trend is build on complete denial of previous one and a complete challenge that is also backed by a desire for specific social change. Clothes worn become a statement regarding gender roles, power, politics, fitting in or avoiding fitting in. This is a whole deal with clothes and the entire reason why fashion will always be there as long as any form of civilization also exists.
They signify - and always have - social position, opinions, taste, upbringing, job, culture we identify with. In a good movie, a single look is enough to place someone in history, country or religion. We don't think about clothes in terms of labels we choose ourselves from what is available to us. In our current culture there is a stereotype of being shallow attached to those who concentrate a lot on clothes people wear and fashion. This attitude helps to miss some incredible realities behind designs and patterns. Did you know that garments worn by Nazi officers were designed by top fashion genius?
There is a reason why J.K. Rowling made house elves freed by giving item of clothing. There is a reason why even fictional reality depicted in Hunger Games uses clothes to label and introduce characters.
Also in Hunger Games, there is a brilliant demonstration of how fashion works - just consider a scene in which Katniss is going through depilation, gets a haircut and an army of make-up and outfit artists to change her look from this:
So... still incredibly gorgeous young woman. But...
The Mockingjay dress. A political statement in two dresses that was so powerful that designer of this dress died for it.
President Snow understood what impact will this changing dress have, especially shown in television.
Minding fashion can certainly be a staple of shallowness and little to no care about problems this world is facing, but the reality is that clothes always were and continue to be used as introductions and statements.
Famous bloggers - like Chiara Ferragni - make insane money just on the skill of dressing well and understanding how to create outfits for themselves and other people. She is but a blogger, but she just got married and her wedding dresses fittings were overseen by the creative director of Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri, herself.
And not to sound petty, but no woman in this world should want to marry in a wedding dress that was designed and worn by another woman, but I will bear all that if I can wear this while getting married:
By the way, this was one of the three dresses she worn...
This sounds insane in the year I am writing it - that something as shallow as fashion could be genuinely backing all sort of ideologies, but it actually always was the case that the cut of clothes was a statement - first one others see when they look at us. There is a reason Coco Chanel is a fashion icon. When she started creating her hats, it was normal for women to wear long dresses that must have reached ankles, corsets, long hair, accentuated waist. Coco Chanel revolutionized this, because she introduced the fashion era we know as the 20s.
This faux photo fantastically demonstrates the essence of 20s - waist are loose, which was a completely new and insane trend. Short hair, another crazy idea that was not welcome before. Length of skirts changed drastically and alongside it - shoes now to be on display. Hats were necessary. The style went from accentuating female silhouette to a more androgynous look.
Coco wanted to free women from the tyranny of corsets that lasted 200 years - and she did it.
They weren't just comfortable, which is what previous attire didn't even consider - they made a gender statement. To add to craziness, androgynous look became so sought after, new corsets were introduced: corsets to make hips and butt flatter. Similar to bustles, their purpose was not to accomplish 19th century appropriation of Nicki Minaj - which was bustle's function - but to hide the curves and flatten the butt! The last adverts for these were released in the 70s .
I wonder if any of you wonder when the hell am I finally going to start talking about grunge.
This post is first from a set of three in which I will try to explain why I think that grunge - you know, that unwashed, second-hand, flannel grunge - created fashion staple of current times, of this history period. And this period of history is special - for the pace and consequences of pace of changes of last 100 years we get to observe. The point I am trying to make in this post, except for the fact that labs should seriously consider calling off experiments with elephants, is that fashion is not shallow or stupid like some people absolutely are.
Anna Wintour told Taylor Swift to wear grunge, because she "knew" it will be in. People started wearing grunge and suddenly it turned out that one doesn't have to look homeless to look grunge, that it can be way of styling entire outfits, not picking each item to be in style. The core attitude of grunge - lack of statement, lack of stressing (all stress magically goes into clothes instead of the body, transforming them, hence the look), allowing second-hand clothes in the time when glam metal and hugeness still ruled (strong ability to resists what's fashionable) became necessary for some people in order to remain sane in the political and general climate. Detachment from the worst mistakes of current times, but much more intelligent than Flower Children of Vietnam war.
This sort of practical thinking that by the definition considers environment and price tag and ignores insane requirements made by society or high fashion - this is grunge. I see people like this all the time. So that's why grunge is so important. I don't think that it became fashionable again and then the attitude, the kind of thinking associated with grunge, followed. I personally strongly feel that over the last few years western culture stirred mentally towards its autenthicity with practicality, humility and lack of pretentiousness - and then the clothes eventually followed what was already in the mind. Because guess what - there was once a clothing style that was cheap and detached - but at the same time not making any statements. It happened before, years ago.
Fashion can have so much heart in it.
Also Anna Wintour had 69th birthday last week. Happy birthday, you old scarily competent bat.