I wrote a thing for Platinum Love, this be it.
The influence of music on fashion trends has always been strong, the two industries constantly intertwine, taking inspiration from each other and subsequently influencing the man on the street. Urban street fashion in particular has always been heavily influenced by music, particularly the popularisation of labels such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi, aspirational brands easily recognised by their logos and immortalised in countless hip hop and rap lyrics.
But times are changing. Gratuitous logos are being eschewed in favour of a new dark sports-luxe minimalism. This changing face of urban street fashion has been pioneered by one of hip hops biggest success stories of the 21stcentury – Kanye West.
When West released his debut album in 2004, his sartorial choices rarely got more exciting than a plain jumper and baggy jeans. A short decade later West is now as known for his avant-garde fashion choices as his music, his sell-out Watch The Throne collaboration tour with Jay Z was art directed by Riccardo Tisci, a good friend of West and creative director of one of his favourite labels, Givenchy. By choosing to wear leather kilts and crystal encrusted Margiela masks rather than adhering to the standard uniform of oversized commercial fashion labels, West is rewriting gendered fashion for the next generation of artists including A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and Pheophilus London, as well as black youth as a whole, and paving the way for a larger cause, a change in attitudes towards what black masculinity really means in the 21st century.
Of course, not everyone sees West’s unconventional fashion choices as pioneering. Lord Jamar, member of New York hip-hop group Brand Nubian, took particular offense to West, penning ‘Lift Up Your Skirt’, essentially blaming West for emasculating black male youth.
Another recent rising star of hip hop, A$AP Rocky, established his interest in fashion and style from the beginning of his career, which has included him walking for Hood by Air and collaborating with Raf Simons. Rocky told the April issue of Interview “fashion is just one of those things that helped me be an individual…it helped me get the attention that most people try to get with publicity stunts of by doing other crazy things.”
This evolution of black street fashion is important in terms of a new fashion moment, but also in terms of working towards quashing negative and intolerant attitudes both within the hip hop community. By popularising an aesthetic that is non-gender specific and also not as consciously hyper-consumerist, a more liberal attitude toward fashion will hopefully influence a liberal attitude in general. Hood by Air, the cult streetwear label was founded in 2006 by an openly gay black man, Shayne Oliver. The label has risen to cult status, having been worn by streetwear tastemakers including A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Kanye West and a slew of young males on increasingly fashion forward site Tumblr. The importance of Hood by Air as the pioneer for the emergence of luxury streetwear is not to be underestimated. It’s popularity within a community constantly called out in the media for perceived promotion of intolerance proves that fashion is not a tool to divide – the haves vs the have nots, ‘gay’ vs ‘straight’, but that it is an important social agency with the power to promote positive change.
Shayne Oliver sees the popularisation of Hood by Air as “the beginning of a trend that will allow black men dress in ways formerly dismissed as ‘gay’”. Homophobia sadly is still a major issue within the hip hop musical community, and with artists such as Lord Jamar so quick to call out West, a straight man, for being ‘gay’ merely for wearing a kilt – a traditionally male item of clothing, incidentally – undermines the great leaps that artists like West who go against the mould are making towards promoting tolerance amongst black youth. A$AP Rocky said of the problem “it makes me upset that this topic even matters when it comes to hip-hop, because it makes it seem like everybody in hip-hop is small-minded or stupid — and that’s not the case. We’ve got people like Jay-Z. We’ve got people like Kanye. We’ve got people like me. We’re all prime examples of people who don’t think like that. I treat everybody equal, and so I want to be sure that my listeners and my followers do the same if they’re gonna represent me. And if I’m gonna represent them, then I also want to do it in a good way.”
The prestige of exclusivity previously held by Louis Vuitton et al has now moved onto the exclusivity of knowledge. Being able to not only instantly recognise a Givenchy print or a Raf Simons trainer holds weight, but also knowing where to get these items has become the new marker of fashion credibility. The new aspirational labels often run limited edition lines, placing the importance on sourcing the product and being one of the first to have it, rather than having the same item as everyone else who can afford it.
Black street fashion trends, including bandanas and low slung trousers, were traiditionally used to signify an affiliation to specific groups or gangs, this move within urban street wear towards an appreciation for the avant garde and more obvious sartorial risk taking sets wearers apart from the crowd. This emphasis on fashion as a form of self expression rather than as a uniform is paving the way for urban fashion to help bridge gaps that historically exist within hip hop and the wider community. Social freedom, long a battleground for minorities, is now finally extending to street fashion, promoting an environment where urban youth can walk down the street without fearing a backlash from their own community, and even if leather kilts are still worn by a minority, that minority includes some of the most recognisable and successful black men in the media. First, the street, second, the world.
Having previously been responsible for Mandonna’s Super Bowl costumes, in all their leathery Grecian glory, Ricardo Tisci has turned his hand to putting some clothes on now-touring Rihanna. Thank you, universe.
I’m not a Rihanna fan, I mean I’ll have a lil bop if something comes on whilst I’m out, but her whole “I’m not a role model, I’m my own person, look at me dragging my fanny across the floor and smoking weed, I’m mad me!” schtick winds me up. I am however, a big Givenchy fan. My first three designer purchases were all Givenchy (and not a Rottweiler in sight) so I’m excited to see the costumes, even if I’d rather they were on ABBA.
The outfits will apparently be heavily influenced by sportswear and streetwear elements mixed with “haute couture techniques”. So far, so optimistic. Tisci has said of the collaboration, “Rihanna represents what young and amazing means today. She is punk and talented. She offers intelligence, energy and pure beauty.” I put this through a ‘PR bullshit translator’, and this is what he meant to say. “Rihanna represents what young and stupid means today, commercial and over-produced. She offers a smacked out moral compass, paper chasing and a well paid stylist.” Glad we cleared that one up.
I’ll add more photos when I can find them, but for now here’s a first look:
Helping Ricardo Tisci pay his rent with an Antigona bag, Ave Maria men’s jumper.
Ahhh bonjour ma petite tasse! Regardez-vous ma blog post de Paris Fashion Week! As you can tell, I’m basically fluent in French, it’s one of my many talents. For those not as clever as me at French, here’s a round-up of the sartorial offerings from Paris Fashion Week.
STOP. BALMAIN TIME! An 80s wipe-clean wonderland, Balmain was every theatrical tin-foil fashion hope and more, we have Balmain in at my work all the time, can’t wait to try and shoe-horn myself into the amazing waistcoat outfit on the right, rip it, and be evicted because I can’t pay for it. ASPIRATIONAL!
Alexander Wang’s much anticipated first collection since his controversial appointment at Balenciaga. And it wasn’t horrible. It’s still very much Wang-esque (not a word I’ll use again, promise) but with undeniable Christobal influence. I liked it, it’s a nice return to the classic, clean Balenciaga, rather than the ultra modernism Ghesquiere brought with his metal leggings/Egyptofunk/riding hats etc, which I loved, but I don’t think Wang could have followed on from or replicated in the same vein without it looking like some kind of shit Project Runway ~modernism~ challenge.
I know leather panelling has been done over and over and over, but I want this, all of this, and variations of this, forever.
Really enjoying the Brave New World/Handmaid’s Tale minimal ~dystopian sexuality~ here, and how could I not love the wimple. I’m all about a wimple. I’m not ususally a huge fan of Mugler, but the simplicity, and the murky blue with crisp white, speaks to my inner future gimp.
Each season Givenchy is usually my go-to, but the disparity between the menswear (99% of the time, amazing) and the womenswear (67% of the time, amazing) starts to show more and more. I love the floral leather biker and the quilted bomber, super, but the random sequinned arm? The cheap ill-fitting mesh? The shiny polka-dots? This both confuses and upsets me.
These are my dream outfits until I’m thin enough to slip under my office door, rather than walking through it. Probably not very practical day to day (getting closed in bus doors, dropping Tesco Value lasagne down yourself, cycling – all trials I face daily) but commanding and beautiful all the same. I do miss the structured, body-con Pugh of olde, but a shift in silhouette hasn’t lost the dark drama he’s built his brand on.
I’m not ususally a fan of Valentino, not nearly enough black, leather or androgyny for me, but this china plate-esque collection has reminded me that I AM A GIRL, HERE ME SQUEAL!
Do you feel dizzy? Disorientated? It might be to do with Yves Saint Laurent spinning so hard in his grave that the Earth is turning faster than usual. #SOFTGRUNGELAURENT HAS STRUCK AGAIN. Hedi’s latest collection (and we know how much I enjoyed his last menswear offering) has been met with a resounding NON from critics, and rightly so. His access to the Topshop throw-out must be STOPPED.
This season marks Claire Wright Keller’s fourth at the helm of Chloe, and it’s definitely her best yet. Probably my favourite collection from Paris, simple and minimal with great tailoring and a perfect colour palette.
Who invented the tartan laundry bag? Has anyone got his email? He’s definitely been ripped off at Celine. Blatant plagiarism aside, Celine was it’s usual super self, a really nice palette and pleasing oversized yet tailored shapes (so excited to put on 15 stone before winter and be able to shop at Celine rather than Millets!).
Milan Fashion Week brought all of the expected opulence and excess it is famed for, interspersed with a heavy dose of Great Gatsby/Grey Gardens inspiration (which makes sense, as Prada are doing the costumes for the upcoming remake of the Great Gatsby) and tartan. In amongst this were the enduring themes of New York and London – leather, bomber jackets and masculine tailoring.
The stand out collection for me was Fausto Puglisi, who served up the kind of collection Ricardo Tisci might if he had an unlimited gift card for the John Lewis haberdashery. That might sound like a criticism, but I bloody love the John Lewis haberdashery. Despite a grammatically appalling website, definitely have a look if you’re not familiar with the brand, as this is only his second collection, so I’m imagining some really great things to come.
Here’s a selection of the best looks from MFW.
When I’m a broke ass bitch the only thing I can think about is why I’m being denied the means to buy pretty things. Here’s my current list of demands.
As much as his first men’s collection under Saint Laurent Paris wound me up, I still really appreciate Hedi as a photographer. Available from LN-CC.
This is probably as summery as I’ll get, tbh. Available at Topshop
Airtex is summery, right? From The Ragged Priest
Givenchy Black Dahlia Noir.
I know, I know, another day, another dungaree. This pleather bad boy is from Miss Selfridge.
KFC Boneless Banquet. Don’t judge me.