1 Jul 2014

The Combination Of Music and Fashion Through The Years...

Over the years, fashion and music have gone hand in hand. Both influencing each other equally, new music crazes spawned new styles and new styles have impacted popular culture just the same. Fashion is my other passion alongside music, both being topics that I find incredibly interesting to learn about, so this blogpost is a way of combining my two favourite things. I have looked at different genres of music and the fashions that were around at the time, and whether or not they were influential upon each other. In some decades there were a lot more than just your typical stereotype, so I have only talked about the (in my eyes) most important partnerships. 

THE 1950s.
The birth of the teenage rebellion. Christmas 1955, the song Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & The Comets was played on a film (a 20 second clip of it) and since then many have said (including my father who swears on this) that this was the record that changed the world. Rock and Roll was born, thus bringing the 'greaser' style into the mainstream. The boys wore leather jackets,  had 'greased' back hair with fitted tshirts and rolled up jeans. Had a passion for Elvis, Chuck Berry, Ritchie Valens and a massive influence from James Dean. The girls were strongly influenced by 'Pin-Up' girls and wore the 'poofy' dresses, and were not too disimillar to a character in the film Grease. Elvis Presley was one of the most -if not the most- influential musical figure around in the second half of the decade, however, before 1954, the music was all big-band and jazz. Icons such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett dominated popular culture at this time before the world-changing rock and roll genre was born.

THE 1960s.
The 60's were a decade of peace, love, flower power and the birth of the Mod style. It was the first clash of sub-cultures, with multiple musical and fashion styles becoming popular during this decade. The most popular were the Mods, Classic Rock and 'Hippies.' Mod culture was inspired by bands like The Who, Small Faces & The Kinks. The iconic outfits of parkas, polo shirts and skinny trousers for the guys and shift dresses, short hair cuts and polo shirts again for the girls is one that is still present in popular culture today with famous figures such as Liam Gallagher and Miles Kane being known to embody the effortlessly cool image. Classic Rock never had as big of an influence over fashion when bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones dominated because everything was about the music as opposed to going hand in hand with an image. You had the Mod vs Rockers conflicts however, because the Rockers were seen to be dirty and greasy (a development on the greaser style of the 1950's) which is what the Mods were certainly not. The third style which became apparent in the 1960's was the hippy/flower power style. Lots of floaty shirts, trousers and dresses twinned with floral headbands and knee high boots, the hippies were most known for their drug use, passion for peace and loyal following of psychedelic music figures such as The Mamas & The Papas and Bob Marley.

THE 1970s.
The 1970's not only saw the birth of several styles, but also the revival and developments of a few classics. The age of disco was born. The flares, the dancing shoes, the white suits with icons such as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. The moves were anything but cool, but it brought people together who needed something more, and the style went on to become an incredible stereotype of the 1970's. Alongside the energetic disco dancers, came the birth of glam rock -led by the fantastically flamboyant David Bowie. Bowie was the ring leader of glam rock with his eccentric characters such as Ziggy Stardust and Halloween Jack and the excessive androgyny that went alongside them. Leotards, tights and eyeliner were all commonly seen from Bowie and his fans and as they spread to others, Glam Rock was born. The massive change in the 70's was the arrival of punk and skinhead music, which in time, spawned the revival of the Mods. Punk was all about political statements and standing up for what you believed in, which was for a lot of the followers, anarchy. Egged on by a newly-famous band who could hardly play instruments, had massive opinions and couldn't have given less of a shit about what people thought of them, The Sex Pistols are remembered as one of the single-most influential bands ever. Their debut album 'Never Mind The Bollocks' released in 1977, contained anarchist anthems God Save The Queen and Anarchy In The UK which both spawned a new age of teen rebellion. In my eyes, 'Never Mind The Bollocks' is up there with one of the greatest debut albums ever. The Skinhead movement originated in the 60's, but really came to head in the revival of the 70's. They were heavily influenced by black Jamaican music, such as reggae and ska, and this then combined with the newly-revivied Mod movement to create a new era of Mods who dressed much the same as they did before, but were heavily involved with Ska and Reggae bands such as The Specials.  

THE 1980s.
The 1980's saw the birth of the New Romantics. In terms of style it rejected the austerity and anti-fashion stance of punk, being a lot more gender neutral with guys tending to have little or no reservations about being flamboyant and androgynous. Bands like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Boy George and Culture Club and Visage were around at the time, Boy George being a huge style influence for the masses. It was a fairly short-lived movement, but it's eccentricity has been carried on through other styles. Thriving from the loss of 'mainstream-punk,' a new movement known as 'hardcore punk' was created. It was heavily involved with the rise of the independent record labels during this time, and with the DIY ethics in underground music scenes. It has influenced a number of music genres which have experienced mainstream success, such as alt rock, grunge, alt-metal, metalcore, thrash metal, post-hardcore, and hip-hop. Also to come out of the post-punk era was the Goth subculture. One of the few cultures that has stayed around to this day, (although thoroughly diversified) the term 'Goth' was first used in popular culture by Joy Division's producer (Tony Wilson) when comparing Joy Division to the pop-music around at the time. Other bands that came under this banner included The Cure, The Damned, Specimen and Killing Joke. The final movement that came about in the 1980's was the electronic age. One of the single most influential groups to come out of this time was German quartet -Kraftwerk. Their inability to move during live performances mixed with catsuits and keyboards had a massive impact on mainstream culture, and Kraftwerk are still known as one of the most important groups of this time. 

The 1990s.
The 90's was one of the most diverse decades, with a huge range of styles and artists coming into the mainstream. It was also the decade in which some of the last great albums were released, and when the term 'indie' became incredibly apparent. Under the banner of 'indie' music, you had Shoegaze, Britpop and Grunge. Shoegaze is probably one of the least talked about movements of the 90's, however I believe it is one of the most important. Bands like Ride, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine dominated this genre. Although it had no specific style and therefore did not make a big impact on the fashion industry, the music to come out of this time is some of the most meaningful and important music to ever be created. Britpop is again one of the most significant periods of musical history. Oasis, The Stone Roses and Blur led the revolution which went again the dreary American grunge phenomenon which struck the UK. Britpop was all about taking back the British music scene (hence the name of the genre) and making the mainstream a lot more positive. (Live Forever by Oasis was written in response to Nirvana's I Hate Myself and I Want To Die) with the Gallagher brothers wanting to discourage depression and suicide among teens, to whom the Britpop scene was particularly momentous. The style that went in hand with Britpop was a big mix of previous styles, especially 60's Mods. It was a lot more relaxed and 'baggier' with a lot of the fashion icons being the boys in the bands. Liam Gallaghers iconic green parka and Reni from the Stone Roses bucket hat being particular stand outs. The grunge style however, was not too dissimilar from a classic goth image, but has also been said to have also been inspired by the early Punk movement. A lot of eyeliner, unwashed and long hair and dark/oversized clothing is what you would expect to see. Grunge power couple Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were massive style symbols during this time, with Hole and Nirvana being two of the biggest grunge bands alongside Sonic Youth, Pixies and Pearl Jam.
Other sub-cultures that were present in the 90's was the introduction of American hip-hop music, with rappers such as Tupac, Notorious B.I.G and Snoop Dogg gaining popularity at this time. A huge Rave culture also evolved in the 90's, originating from the acid-house scene of the late 80's. It was incredibly drug-fuelled, with MDMA, LSD and Shrooms becoming the norm for people involved with one of the most controversial times.

I would love to continue on writing about this, but after the 90's ended, and the wide majority of these sub-cultures died out, nothing all that exciting carried on into the 2000's. The digital age was born alongside the corporate music era with a lot of todays music being born through talent shows. Gone are the days that the mainstream contains meaningful music with a message, it's all about the lifestyle that people buy into while listening to and downloading this pop-shite and no longer the meaning of the music and the being a part of a sub-culture, and I think it is really quite sad.