I believe fashion serves a purpose in communicating who we are to the world, it is one of the most creative and beautiful forms of self-expression. No great fashion figure has ever earned their place in history by following the rules. Anyone can catch onto trends, but only few create them, and the best artists create a style which makes one stop, think and know there is something being communicated that is deeper than the surface.
Alexander McQueen’s spring 2016 ready-to-wear collection included an outfit composed of ripped/distressed jeans, heels and an embroidered denim trench coat blazer. While distressed denim is no stranger to the runway, Alexander McQueen is helping pioneer a movement to feminize it. While the blazer still has a masculine connotation, the addition of heels and the more polished nature of the other garments create an overall feminine aesthetic. The arrangement challenges the rules of fashion by mixing formal and non-formal pieces, while also challenging the rules of culture in deeming it appropriate for women of prestige to wear ripped jeans.
Vogue first challenged the social norm in the 1930’s when they released a magazine issue featuring women in tight denim pants, the first time denim was feminized since its creation. Until the 1970’s distressed denim, specifically, was associated with those who were of lower social standing. Ripped jeans emerged as a symbol of political protest during the cultural punk movement in the 1970’s. Protesters tore apart consumer goods as an expression of anger towards society, in which denim became the focal point of the destruction. The Hip-Hop movement was also born around this time, deriving its roots from the expression of those involved in the civil rights movement.
The entire history of women in denim and the distressed jean is one of rebellious nature. One would think with such a history ripped denim would be no longer a thing of the present, but the appeal still flourishes. Why would the modern day sophisticated woman want to wear something with such symbolic associations? Fashion is art. Everything is open to interpretation, driven by the vision and motives of the creator. The modern day woman wearing ripped jeans is not driven by any need to rebel, it’s merely a matter of expression. The beauty of ripped jeans is the imperfection, being able to express and embrace having flaws. What is the point of looking perfect when we are not perfect people?
My interpretation of Alexander McQueen’s outfit is more understated. I started with ripped jeans cuffed at the bottom to draw attention to my black suede heels. I added an Obey tank for a casual aesthetic and topped it with a sleeveless blazer. The contrasting textures of the ripped denim and the lustrous fabric of the vest create dimension to the outfit. I chose to use all black and gray pieces to make the denim the focal point of the outfit, distinguished by its color.