How Classic Became The New Cool

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How Classic Became The New Cool

Photography by Mr Guy Aroch | Styling by Mr Dan May

2 November 2017

We take to the streets of New York’s outer neighbourhoods to see how the styles of yesterday are shaping those of today.

Is it 2017 or 1971? If you look at the fashion on some of the more influential designers’ catwalks of late – from Gucci and Prada to Dries Van Noten and Calvin Klein – you could be forgiven for asking the question. This season is heavy on heritage fabrics, and distinctly 1970s in colour palette and texture. It all feels suitably autumnal.

At Prada, outerwear that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the set of Starsky & Hutch was styled with quirky, jewel-toned knitwear. At Dries Van Noten and Balenciaga, voluminous overcoats and suits of blown-up proportions echoed the opulent style of the 1970s.

Just how this heritage trend is interpreted, however, depends on where you are. In the UK, it could very well be channelled as geography teacher chic meets a modern-day Mr Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Britpop band Pulp and all-round style icon. We’re talking tweed blazers with suede patches worn over rollnecks with cords.

In the US – specifically in the outer neighbourhoods of New York where we shot this story – the look takes on an altogether more flamboyant vibe. It’s one that viewers of current HBO hit TV show The Deuce, set in early 1970s New York, may recognise.

Even today, with the boroughs of the city rapidly transformed by gentrification, a spirit of exuberance still remains. It’s an attitude towards style that has fallen perfectly in step with the current season’s collections which sees velvet, corduroy, shearling, tweed and knitwear styled together in a rich autumnal palette of browns, burnt oranges, faded yellows, russet reds and dark greens.

It’s less a costume of nostalgia, more a fresh twist on a decade of huge cultural significance, best worn in a modern, improvised, thrown-together manner. The results are an appeal to the senses. It’s English university lecturer meets Harlem hepcat, with suede-trimmed tweed jackets thrown casually over chunky-knit sweaters and retro silhouettes finding a new expression. Think colour on colour, texture on texture. Think style with soul.

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