Fashion is often thought of as a fanciful industry without any objectives or substance. However, fashion and politics has very often been intertwined. Firstly, it can be used as a reflection of the political and socioeconomic changes in society. For example, the hemline index is an economic theory that shows in periods of recession and austerity the fashionable hemline lengthens and in periods of growth and prosperity the hemline shortens. Fashion can also be used as the political statement in itself. That could be in the form of collective dressing - like the celebrities who donned black at the Oscars in solidarity with the Me Too movement - or by using the runway show as a form of political performance art, like in Hussein Chalayan's highly controversial spring 1998 collection which showed a series of increasingly shorter takes on Islamic traditional dress posing questions about attitudes towards Muslim women.
Political fashion can also be worn in a single piece using the beauty or eyecatching nature of the outfit while also displaying the wearer's convictions or calling to others with the same values - a form of individual activism. Below I'd like to showcase some of the best political vintage garments we have had, past or present, showing pieces from different designers that all make a punchy political statement. Please remember this is just to show how fashion can be used as political art and the views expressed by the designers don't necessarily reflect our own.
1989 Katharine Hamnett - 'Clean Up Or Die'
This stunning denim jacket is by political fashion doyenne, Katharine Hamnett. It has studs creating broken hearts, crossbones and skull & crossbones with 'clean up or die' across the bottom.
1980s Moschino - 'Fur Coats Are Worn By Beautiful Animals and Ugly People'
This amazing jacket is actually the second we've had from this collection, the first one we had sold in minutes and it is no surprise! This museum worthy jacket has the bold animal rights focused statement 'fur coats are worn by beautiful animals and ugly people'. It was created in a short pile faux fur fabric for Moschino's 'Fur for Fun' collection which was aimed at showing how fake fur can be just as good as real fur without the cruelty - an ethos which Jeremy Scott has carried on as creative director of Moschino.
1994 Moschino - 'Save Nature'
I wanted to show this piece next as it ties in perfectly with the previous jacket. This 'Save Nature' jacket was created just a few years after the 'Fur for Fun' jacket. This was part of his final collection and really shows the vision Franco had for his fashion house. The collection was named Ecouture (from eco and couture) and were made from organic cottons and other enviromentally friendly fabric. The labels from this collection also have 'Nature Friendly Garment' embroidered on them. It was a great sadness that Franco passed away so early as it would have been incredible to see if he would influence other fashion houses to be more eco friendly and where he would go next.
1990s Destroy by John Richmond - 'Destroy. Disassociate. Disorder.'
This jacket is by John Richmond for his cult-status Destroy line. I chose this jacket (which sold a while ago) because it sums up this line's political identity perfectly. It has punk style patches with statements like 'guns kill', anti drugs and 'Destroy Agent'. It also has Destroy's anarchic philsophy on the back 'Destroy. Disassociate. Disorder.'
1990s Carlo Colucci - 'The American Dream. Make me a Millionaire.'
This sweater is interesting because its intent is rather ambiguous. It could be a satirical poke at American materialism or it could be an aspirational statement expressed by the likes of hip hop stars at the time.
6 Key Designers who were known for creating political vintage fashion.
Jean Paul Gaultier
There are so many more examples of politics in fashion in single garments, from Gaultier putting men in skirts in 1994 or Vivienne Westwood's entire career so please check out some of our favourites on our pinterest board below.
British born designer, Nigel Curtiss started his eponymous label in 1992, but not before having an already prestigious fashion career. Most notably, Curtiss is known for working with Rei Kawakubo to create the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus line, he put the idea to her of starting a menswear line after seeing the value in creating experimental men's fashion.
Check out our collection of vintage Nigel Curtiss clothing, including this 90s mesh jacket here
All vintage Nigel Curtiss pieces were made in Japan to a high quality, in experimental and innovative fabrics. The list of celebrity clients Nigel Curtiss has dressed in his menswear is varied and extensive, including men as different as Mick Jagger and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Ozzy Osbourne.
To see an example of Curtiss' minimal yet forward thinking approach to fashion, check out the video below of his fall winter 1995 collection available on Fashion TV's YouTube, featuring Mickey Rourke as a model.
New In: Vintage & Designer Spring Dresses by Chloe, Missoni and Jean Charles de Castelbajac.
We've just listed three great dresses for spring, a romantic choice, a bold piece and a fun dress. Please click on the images to see the products.
Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld
This stunning vintage Chloe silk dress is from the 1970s during Karl Lagerfeld's first tenure as creative director of the label. With the ruffles and lace, this is as relevant for Spring 2019 as it was in the 70s.
This Missoni Spring 2005 dress is a bohemian dream. The lightweight, ombré knit is airy and flattering. The fringing gives a fun, late 1960s hippie inspiration.
You can see the same look in a different colorway on the runway, showing the amazing movement in the video below and on the Fashion Channel's great youtube:
Jean Charles de Castelbajac
This fun Castelbajac vintage sundress is from the 90s in a cool, comfortable cotton knit fabric. It has an amazing Cuban dollar print throughout.
From the S/S 2006 collection, our latest arrival is a Valentino yellow silk gown, as seen on the runway. For this collection Valentino was quoted as saying that his mission was to "stand apart from all the fake couture that has dominated the runways for the past few seasons".
See the dress featured at 13:29
Voguesaid of the collection, "Valentino rose to the challenge, upping his already haute luxe factor and sending out a spring collection that was fresher and lighter than it's looked in a long time".
A pencil skirt is so classic and timeless, the modern interpretation of a pencil skirt comes from Christian Dior (who else?) from his 1954 collection. What better way to stand out in the office than with a leather skirt like our 1980s Emanuel Ungaro skirt, chic and individual.
Powerful Boss Lady
For this look, I need to say nothing more than Thierry Mugler. If you're looking for a mix between a superwoman and Marilyn Monroe then Thierry Mugler is your man. Mugler's vintage dresses perfectly created an Amazonian sex siren look with his wide-shouldered, wasp-waisted designs.
Above is our office edit of our Mugler pieces available at the moment, both having the incredible tailoring that he learnt from his father and his eye for dramatic sensuality. The first, an iridescent acid orange skirt suit and the second, a more universal but equally as dramatic LBD with his typical wide shoulder line and an out of this world neckline.
This Bill Blass two piece dress suit has incredible tailoring with classic pinstripes, as good as a men's suit. Perfect for showing you mean business without the extreme shoulders of the power look.
Earlier this week, an amazing dress, fit for a true bohemian goddess and designed by the iconic and eccentric designer Zandra Rhodes, hit the store! Named after the home of the Gods itself, this dress was part of a collection called 'Mount Olympus' c. Spring/ Summer 1983.
In a thick silk noil which gives it the most amazing drape, this is an incredibly rare example of the couture bohemian luxe aesthetic that Zandra was known for. With a suede yoke that is perforated and screen printed with the statement 'Jungle Trail' border that was also featured in her earlier 'Medieval Collection'.
This incredible vintage Zandra Rhodes dress is not only so very wearable but practical too! With two deep pockets to store whatever a woman with such exceptional taste wants to carry. If you are interested in finding out more about the 'Mount Olympus' collection then check out the Visual Arts Data Service's website and see some original sketches and other pieces in the collection here
We've just added to the site we've got some absolutely incredible vintage 80s & 90s pieces by the very best designers of the eighties and nineties.
Including this incredibleValentino Boutiquepiece, such amazing quality in a gold bias cut jacquard with elegant trains draping down effortlessly from each shoulder. Not only do the trains invoke the kind of 30's Hollywood glamour that any girl would kill for, they are also incredibly versatile, you can tie them in a multitude of ways. Where would you wear this to? Lounging by the pool in the hot summer sun with oversized sunglasses and a cosmopolitan in hand? Or perhaps you'd wear it to a formal dinner with a train draped over each arm, making everyone in the room stop and stare.
Next up, just click on this Paco Rabanne two piece skirt suit and prepare to be blown away. Not only is this stunning 90s designer piece in a striped slub silk dupion reminiscent of a metallic rainbow, but the design is absolutely spectacular. The back of the top (or lack thereof) is open with glamorous silver chains draping down for ultimate sex appeal. Worn to a party or nightclub you would look like you've travelled from the future in a rainbow of luxurious silk.
Sticking with the futurism this Jean Paul Gaultierlooks fit for a space age Japanese raver babe. In a stretch jersey it is so flattering, moulding round the lines of your figure perfectly. This oriental inspired dress has a variety of typographical prints, from unusual japanese characters to words in Latin, just what you'd expect from l'enfant terrible.
Now I've saved what I think is the best till last, this Moschino Couture silk blendtrouser suit is my personal favourite of the bunch and I'm sure you can see why! This incredible piece of fashion history is perfect for collectors, being possibly one of the best Moschino pieces we've ever seen, with a vibrant digital print of an Indian scene all over. It surely won't last long so be quick the girl who gets this is certainly a lucky one!
Keep your eye out for more vintage designer pieces new stock is added at least once a week!
Two days ago the winner of the prestigious ‘Dress of the Year’ award, given by the Bath Fashion museum, was chosen and it was designed by none other than the brilliant English designer Gareth Pugh.
Dress of the Year - Gareth Pugh, AW14
As always the dress of the year is awarded to the best dress of the last year and we think 2014’s ensemble by Gareth Pugh was fantastically chosen in terms of trends – sheer clothing and PVC was quite prevalent by many designers during 2014 (see Jeremy Scott SS14, Miu Miu AW14), but also in terms of message behind the dress. The dress was created by Pugh to show that in fashion and life in general, something can be made out of nothing – a glamorous, ground-breaking dress created out of sheets of plastic.
Plastic dress, 1966
We think the dress really harks back to the 60s and 70s vintage dresses, the sixties for their experimentation with fabrics, in particular PVC and plastic, (see above) and the seventies for the diaphanous qualities, a sort of modern day bohemian. The obi belt influenced waist and wrap front that lead up to a high neckline also invoked a sort of 60s space age minimalism meets 1970s ethnic opulence that designers such as Bill Gibb and Zandra Rhodes were renowned for.
Our own billowing Bill Gibb vintage dress, £500. Who won dress of the year in 1970.
We’re sure the dress has some critics though, I mean it’s made out of plastic sheeting – not too wearable for most I’d imagine. What do you think of the dress - love it or loathe it?