Forward to the past

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There’s a distinct timewarp about the latest fashions being pushed at us. Celine coat

I was trawling through the Guardian’s fashion pages just now and it strikes me that it really looks like recession is here to stay. The last time I saw clothes as body armour like this was in the 1980s. 

The 1980s, lest we forget, was a bloody terrible era for most people. Other than the Hooray Henrys in the City, everyone was worse off, with massive unemployment, the loss of union representation, wages effectively frozen, rights as citizens removed in favour of so-called rights as ‘consumers’ (as if a person should be measured on what they spend…) and a freeze on council house building that led directly to the ridiculous boom in house prices that is now seeing so many UK families homeless or trapped in rental accommodation.

But I digress. What really caught my eye was this coat from Celine (above), because, dear reader, I have owned this exact style of coat in pretty much this exact colour. And also in the equivalent rock-hard magenta. Back in – when? 1984, 1985? Around that era, anyway.

The article describes it as an oversized man’s coat, and indeed at that time, I also wore actual men’s coats – a grey Crombie that I shared with my 6′ 2" boyfriend, a classic tweed, a black wool Savile Row overcoat. The fact that they stood out so far from my shoulders that it looked like the coathanger was still in there was just part of the fashion of the time. And they weighed a ton. 

Look again at the clothes mentioned in this piece: kilts, or kilt-style skirts (wore them loads in the 80s); oxblood suits (mine came complete with two rows of gold military buttons); quilted coats (hello Issey); faux fur (again, still got my gigantic lime-green one because the DH loves it so much he won’t let me part with it); military-style overcoats (when the Wall came down, the street markets were flooded with German uniforms); silk scarves worn as a stock. 

These are clothes for protection, clothes as armour, clothes for standing in the dole queue, for eating chips out of a paper bag, for waiting for the bus service that’s been shaved to the bone. We should not be happy that they are appearing now, because fashion, whether we like it or not, does reflect the zeigeist, and our zeitgeist is looking pretty fucking crap. Double-dip and treble-dip recessions, general strikes all over Europe, Palestine kicking off for the nth time.

Here we go, girls. Wrap up warm, because it looks like we’ll need it. 

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