Thursday, 4 July 2013

Anti-Fashion (In a Nutshell)

Anti-Fashion is, put simply, anything going against the mainstream fashion of the time. This means it is constantly-changing thing, most forms with the same intention: refusal to conform to fashion standards. Here is a quick guide highlighting the key things of anti-fashion, from origins to its integration into the fashion landscape itself!

Source
In the Victorian era, women's fashion options were very restrictive, what with the tight walebone corsets massive bustles. Such clothing also made hobbies such as hunting and cycling difficult, so in the mid-19th century rational dress was introduced. This introduced trousers, or, rather, bloomer costumes and short-skirt combinations, so that such hobbies could be enjoyed more safely. High society appeared to criticise these alternatives, even when it was trousers being worn in the mines!
Mods and Rocker. Source
Anti-fashion seems to have died down during the first half of the 20th century, probably due to the sheer amount of international conflicts going on, however there was a return to non-conformist fashions in the late 50s and majority of the 60s, with the rise of the Mods and Rockers. Both groups sported unique fashions, such as parkas for Mods and leather jackets for Rockers, but it was their actions that caused the securing of their anti-fashion statuses. Both subcultures were prone to fighting, and soon riots and large-scale conflicts between the two were common, with them being called "folk devils" by the media. Rockers went on to evolve (sort of) into punks, whereas the Mods live on.
Hippies. Source
The sexual revolution of the 1960s saw the rise of the hippy movement, which rejected the societal ideals of the 50s and promoted free love and peace. Hippy fashion went against the popularity of the mini and tailored  suits seen during its time in the media spotlight in favour of long floaty clothes, usually made from eco-friendly materials. Essentially, the clothing of choice went against the mainstream's increased use of mass-production and cheap materials. Like the mods and rockers, the hippy movement was also damned by the media, which emphasised the use of drugs such as cannabis and LSD, which hippies used to have psychedelic trips as a means of self-discovery.
Two punk ladies on the Underground. Source unknown.
The 70s saw the rise of Punk, a strongly anti-establishment movement that went on to define the alternative scene and its subsets. Punk fashion, with staples being heavily customised jackets, army boots and anarchy symbols, was a great contrast to the bell bottoms and hippy-chic blouses of the 70s, and quickly became the definition of anti-fashion. Needless to say, punk's successors, in the forms of goth, emo, post-punk and metal, all further demonstrated the prominence of anti-fashion in subcultures.

The most popular (not sure if that's the most appropriate word for it) anti-fashion subculture was the grunge movement of the 90s; the visual aesthetics were non-existent, with anything cheap and practical sufficing. This was seen as the ultimate anti-fashion statement, especially with the emphasis on high fashion and mainstream clothing seen during the decade. However, the media's obsession with grunge after the mainstream success of Nirvana's Nevermind album led to the apparent trivialising of the subculture, hence why it is argued that, like punk, grunge is dead.
Kurt, Courtney and Francis: Grunge's own royal family.
Anti-fashion has enjoyed an estranged and complex relationship with high fashion. Originally ignored, anti-fashion was introduced into high fashion in the 90s via minimalism; the reduction of fashion into a blank canvas. This was considered revolutionary by the big fashion houses, with Calvin Klein becoming the leading minimalist designer. Recently, minimalism has being revived, again with CK leading the way, providing a stark contrast to the florals and decedence seen in other collections of recent seasons.

Another key link between fashion and anti-fashion was Vivienne Westwood, whose use of punk and BDSM elements in her fashion shocked the fashion landscape; fitting, considering she considers the shock value of punk a key influence. Ms. Westwood's iconic designs may have led to punk fashion becoming more mainstream, but it's safe to say that her collections made a proud statement against the repeated trends and apparent importance of high fashion.
Minimalism - the anti-fashion within fashion.
In the 21st century, anti-fashion has sunk back into the shadows, however the rise of the hipster scene, which has brought in the revival and mainstreaming of goth and grunge, has led to anti-fashion existing as a sort of artistic release. This is best seen by pastel goth, which uses both high street fashion and alternative elements, and is beginning to separate itself from its mainstream origins. Goth, meanwhile, has evolved and introduced cybergoth; a mix of traditional goth and modern science-fiction. This can be considered worlds apart from popular fashion, what with its use of neons, gas masks and goggles, and synthetic hair and fabrics. Soon, we may see a new, unique subculture rise with its own stance on anti-fashion, but until then, anti-fashion is a fading art, and has somewhat lost its meanings established during the rules of the hippies, punks and grungers.

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