The journey from street styles to catwalk had been flagged off and celebrated by Ted Polhemus, who observes that we are now a melting pot of style. In an interview to i-D Online the ‘culture anthropologist’ stated “Style is what allows us to find ourselves, and find others like us”, he professes, “and is what will define us in this ever continuing multi-faceted world” [Polhemus. T cited in Sarah Raphae; streetstyle-from-sidewalk-to-catwalk-2010 ; Accessed on 25th October, 2011 ] The statement has come to stay with women as a quotient of power and style, a hint of the tensile in a graceful feminine form. It lent its allure as a symbol of the successful, driven, iconic woman who made her statement of success in a man’s world yet retained her feminine appeal. The wheel stood reinvented such that it took the world, not just the corridors of power, by storm.
The Trench Coat was not far behind in this race for a makeover from a utility garment worn by men to stave off the cold, to a couturiers creative muse. From the classic lines of the Burberry design to the fashion statement it makes through its varied textures, colours, cuts and embellishments, it has become a must have in the wardrobe of any dress savvy male or female. Its attraction also lay in the varied ways in which it was displayed it to prospective patrons. Over the years, the classic design has seen many avatars with creative director Christopher Bailey at the helm: reinvented in wool, leather and python skin, reconstructed with smoke-like capabilities (Spring Summer 2005) and modified with multiple storm flaps sprinkled with gold rivets (Spring Summer 2007). From soldiers to the social elite, this timeless piece of British history has fought its way through war zones and back, declaring victory as a wardrobe staple, season after season.
The artistic representation of the garment draped with casual grace and ease on the models, the accessories to enhance its appeal, the chic element created with a buckled belt or worn loosely in the Humphrey Bogart tradition, ensured that its niche in the annals of fashion history were carved for good.
The Safari Suit that traces its origins to the casual comfort required in the African bush was another garment that found its way into the fashion catalogues of the style conscious who wish to be perceived as those who choose their style statement and wish to make it convincingly as an elitist and an offbeat one.
Interestingly, however, the ambiguity that has been the hallmark of fashion trends was perceived here as well. The established stereotypical styles of clothing stood revamped for the new fashion divas to become the brand ambassadors. [Arnold.2001]These blurred gender definitions also held up a mirror to the revolutionary changes, manifested through fashion in the new world order socio-politically, socio-economically and socio-culturally. It also marked the beginning of novel fashion trends for men who have always been the more overt symbols of power both physical and mental. The state of tenuous uncertainty had a catalytic effect on the fashion industry that set itself to check this erosion of the symbol of the powerful male through the line of skinny Twiggy look- a-likes, used generously by reputed houses like Gucci to Dolce& Gabbana, to create a sense of tremendous unease in the sphere of masculinity. The easy compatibility of the latter twentieth century fashion was as ephemeral as the industry itself. Although renowned actresses like Marylin Munroe and Greta Garbo to the latest of Hollywood were photographed by leading cameramen to lend a charismatic appeal to the products on display, the fact remains that it was a very short lived story. The portrayal of the garment, the body, the images and the advertisements, served to create a sense of dilemma as they challenged the established norms and thus created a distinct sense of unease making it difficult to sustain itself.[Arnold 2001] The essence of fashion is to define the taste and popularity of the styles created. The driving desire of the creative geniuses is to defy the constraints of time and culture to offer something new, tantalizing and sensational to its patrons. Nick Lacey, a leading fashion journalist, opines that, “People born into different societies will have a different understanding of the world because they will learn about it in different ways.”[Lacey.N.1998 Introduction to Image Analysis (Chapter 1). In Image and Representation-Key Concepts in Media Studies; New York; St. Martin’s Press Inc.] The overt impact of style dressing and its liaison with media has titillated the style barons and style icons alike in the past and is likely to do so in the era to dawn. The element of insatiability creates a craving for more. Sartorial codes define the churning in every sphere of life. The cyclic progression continues. Fashion sustains itself and scripts yet another era of style.