‘Cover Girl’: A lesson in fashion history

Everyone has seen this by now, how could you miss Lena Dunham, of Girls fame, and fashion legend Hamish Bowles vogueing? The short clip is excellently done, with Dunham in classic Hannah-mode (and some rather delightful silk pyjamas – Olivia von Halle perhaps), being outshone by Hamish’s effortless elegance and grace when posing. Yes, it’s very entertaining, but it is also an important lesson in fashion history, featuring some very iconic images, albeit from only one side of the pond. One would imagine that Hamish had to do very little research for the piece, as he appears to have a wealth of knowledge, casually throwing names into the mix, and if asked, he would probably have no issue telling us the photographer, who the model’s wearing, and even the location and issue. That is so important, and all too rare. These days, so many people claim to love fashion, but have no concept of the basic history. Being able to identify references is so very important and, due to its rarity, impressive. So, watch the video, have a giggle, but then watch it again and again until you can see any of the images shown and know the information behind its creation, and then some. Powerful photographs don’t come out of thin air, they have the past behind them, pushing them into the future.

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100 Years of Style in East London…or not

Upon first viewing this clip, for approximately 82 seconds I was charmed and delighted. The video, actually a couple of years old now, is an advertisement for the opening of Westfield Stratford in London’s East End. It is a flirtatious 100 seconds of history, charting the change in British (more specifically East London) style from 1911 to 2011, using music and dance from the various eras to cleverly cut between the decades. A great idea, demonstrating the importance of clothes through history, and how a changing social and political background leads to a change in opinion and thus style, the most accessible form of expressing one’s point of view.

However, the smile faded at 82 seconds, as the horror of the modern day depiction of our style unfurled on the screen before me. Thank you very much, but you will never have seen this blogger, or the vast majority of other sartorially minded women out there, sporting a huge doughnut bun and patent platform heels. If that is how modern day style will be remembered, (fashion) God, help us all. To make matters worse, this is a video about East London, that veritable breeding ground of quirky British style – not always a good thing – and individual looks. No hipster, male or female, would ever don the latter three outfits in this video.

Britain is, and has always been, home to the most diverse, daring and exciting range of styles, looks which across both Channel and Pond are viewed with both fear and delight, but most importantly, respect. This video does not portray that. Forgotten are the likes of (East End-born) designer Alexander McQueen, Shoreditch favourite Meadham Kirchoff, or elegant-with-a-twist J.W. Anderson. No, we shall be remembered by badly made, ill-fitting, nondescript outfits.

If nothing else, enjoy the first minute or so, but then shut your eyes so as not to be offended by how Westfield perceives the sartorial richness of our fair Isle. If I don’t post for a while, it’ll be because I’m busy remaking this video, and doing British Fashion justice.