Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rock Chic

by Mathilde Jansson

A style that I have, for a long time, people wearing on the street and in editorial is leather jackets, boots, layers of worn-out t-shirts and shirts, hats, converse, skinny jeans, studded belts etc. Clothes that lends the wearer attitude and somehow they fill the air around them with coolness. It is not only young people that you see wearing this style but even the older generation who where young in the 1950’s and 60’s, men as well as women. It is a Style that I find is closely related to Rock music, where this style is commonly seen and worn by artists.

In this essay I will look into where this style was born, who are the big influences, how it has been carried forward and developed and where we can see it today. To explain this style further, we will go back in time, back to the 1950’s where this style started. In 1954 Marlon Brando starred in The Wild One with his crew of motorcycle riders. They were all dressed in black leather jackets, jeans and boots and Marlon Brando became a hero inspiring the young audience.

This image of Marlon Brando as the young biker became the popular image of a classic American rebellion. The image of the biker slowly went from a villain as they were seen as in the 1940’s to becoming a hero for the younger population, carrying values such as rebellion and nonconformity. It was a way for the young to differentiate themselves from the older generation.

Furthermore, this youthful rebel American also became a ground for the musician’s choice of clothes. They expressed themselves not only through their music but their style was equally important for their image and for their opinions to be perceived by the audience.

Debbie Harry

As Josh Sims wrote in his Rock Fashion “Fashion helped rock stars define their rebellion, revolution, teen angst, sex and theatricality, and thus helped define it to their fans.” They created the style they wanted, often vulgar or extreme or reworked from another style. Like The Beatles for example, the started out as greasy rockers all dressed in black leather jackets. When the 1960s came, they cut their hair in mode style haircuts and introduced slim neat suits in to the rock style. As soon as an artist change so does the audience.

The style of rock musicians has changed with the decades and with fashion, style evolves and artists find ways to try to look individual. But I feel there are always elements that remain within the style of rock. Like leather jackets, skinny jeans, boots, shirts etc. Like the clothes that Marlon Brando popularized.

There are a lot of iconic rock musicians that are worth mentioning, like Elvis, Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Freddy Mercury, Lindsey Buckingham, Steve Nicks and modern artist like Liam and Joel Gallagher of Oasis, The Kooks and Nina Persson of The Cardigans are just some examples. However, what I have just described as rock fashion has not fallen away from rock music: it is still closely related to music. The people that I have interviewed for this essay, a lot of them my friends, have all had the same answer to the question if music important for you and the way you dress, all of them said yes. A lot of them said that there were no specific artist that they had held as a style icon, but the ones that did most often said a rock musician from the 1960s or 70s such as Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bowie or some of the contemporary musicians such as John Mayer and Brandon Flowers of The Killers, Pete Dorherty amongst others.

More or less, music tends to group people together. People with the same taste in music seems to group and create somewhat of a subculture, where their world circles around music and you gather at the same clubs or bars to see specific DJs. Values, priorities and visions are shared therefore a common way of dress is normal if not unconsciously obvious in the sense that you think alike.

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