It’s all about the sixties this season. Sharp lines, unisex tailoring, retro-futuristic metallics and insouciant glares. Summer of love this isn’t. A discordant chant of ‘We are the Mods’ subliminally floats over the rails of every high-street shop, which is manifested in the slim suit trousers, car coats, peter pan collars and penny loafers within.
Fashion hasn’t always been so self-referential. We look to the past for inspiration, reworking old looks for new. Nostalgia has become a byword in fashion that has only really come to the fore in the past decade. Miu Miu goes forties, Gucci is seventies and Christopher Kane has revamped nineties clubwear tack. When did it all get so bloody postmodern?
It’s something we can trace back to the original Mod movement which, in 2011, must be going through it’s fourth fashion revival. The slim fitting suits worn by the token rebellious youth were reminiscent of the original trouser-toting style setter: Beau Brummell.
Beau Brummell, the original dandy, set the Regency fashion world on fire by wearing tight-fitting trousers which were considered an indecent departure from the knee breeches that were the norm in the time of George IV. Soon though, everyone was wearing trousers.
Eventually, Brummel’s uniform mutated into what we now know as the suit. Brummel, however, had run up massive bills on pants (amongst other things) and died penniless in 1840 after a severe mental breakdown, probably unaware of just how big an impact he had on the fashion world.
The Mods harken back to that – well-groomed at all costs, tight tailoring to make grannies faint in the street, flying in the face on convention only to be absorbed into the mainstream.
It’s not just the rebellion we co-opt when we draw inspiration from the Mods, it’s also how damn cool they looked.
That’s why the Mod look has been recycled for this autumn/winter, but with an invincibly modern twist. The suits are still slim, but this time the girls that are wearing them too. French brand The Kooples, which recently found an Irish home in Brown Thomas, has enlisted Saville Row tailors to give their clothes a look of Quadrophenia on the Canal Saint-Martin – slim, leather accented and very cool.
Chelsea boots, brogues and loafers, designer and high street, have been updated with high-tech materials and loud finishes; platform soles, neon trim, leopard print, metallic leather.
Topshop have debuted their New Mod look – an orgiastic mish-mash of sixties Mod with a measure of fifties Teddy Boy and seventies punk – think Mod tailoring and foundation with animal prints, cat’s eye glasses, Elvis coifs, grandad knits, black lipstick, Dalmatian print and brothel creepers. It’s a trend that, admittedly, looks much better in real life than it does on paper. It’s also great fun to wear.
All decades have their own individual, recognisable stamp. When we look back on 2011-2020, what will be its symbol? It’s looking ever more likely that this is the revival generation, who reworks history for our own sartorial satisfaction. It sounds slightly sinister, but it’s clothing, not revisionism.
So, don those skinny grey flannel trousers happily. Oh, and hold on to them. I predict another revival in about ten years.