Blue Jean Baby

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In a fairly recent magazine article, a fashion journalist noted that the prevalence of stonewashed denim among Hollywood leading men amounted to an embarrassment for the very image-conscious film-making industry. Pictures of starry-wonders such as George Clooney pottering around in light blue and rather shabby jeans were items of evidence and though the question central to the piece was ‘What is wrong with our leading men?’, the real question I was tapping my fingers over was; ‘Whatever happened to those very blue jeans?’ You know the sort of thing I mean – solid blue colour, unwashed, with brightly contrasting turn-ups: the sort of thing worn in the 1950s and early 60s with penny loafers and baseball jackets. I remember Grace Kelly wearing a pair at the end of Rear Window; reclining gloriously whilst reading a fashion publication. Their strength of tone epitomised the artistic character of that era; Pop art reigned supreme and American culture was an appealing export. Colour representations were apt to be bright and simplistic – rather like a cartoon or a child’s drawing. Lichtenstein’s ’industrial paintings’, and Rosenquist’s billboard-influenced collaging come to mind when imagining this bluest of blue denim.

Though friends of mine contend that such denim must still be available somewhere (what isn’t in our aggressively productive world?), it is rather hard to find. Brands like Cheap Monday and Dr Denim manufacture brightly toned blue denim but it is nowhere near the texture or particular tone. In fact, when searching online for denim of any kind, jeans seem embarrassed of ’blueness.’ Though marketed as indigo, so many jeans avoid true blue dyes. They’re darker and more steely; many are practically dark grey. Recent denim trends have pointedly avoided blue – all tones of grey, black and even brown have replaced azure as the standard for jeans. And to me, this is a great shame. True-blue denim is irreplaceable; the only alternatives seem to be wearing a darker hue or returning to the dreaded Tom Selleck-esque light stone washes. Both are depressingly inappropriate for the outfits I have in mind which, in actual fact, centre around the pre-Preppy Americana and are thoroughly appropriate for the coming warmth; red gingham shirts, burgundy loafers and tortoiseshell Wayfarers: an homage to the mid-Twentieth century of ‘American cool’ – without, of course, the drop top Chevy and the slick backed hair.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Derek says:

    I really should stop reading you. I need solid blue high contrast turn-ups now.

  2. Barima says:

    Levi’s do quite a few fashion forward collaborations that may interest you, Winston. Otherwise, you could always take a shopping trip to Tokyo

  3. Nicola Linza says:

    Winston,

    For what it is worth, let us consider something, when the studio system ended, especially the grand ones such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor, the entire star system ended, which included how they dressed. Today that business is nothing but a cheap and pathetic imitation of something that is no longer around.

    We could discuss the people who run the system today, (they could not touch the old masters like, Louis B. Mayer,) or the people they try to push on the public (who are no longer classically grand looking, but actually today, in comparison to old Hollywood, are quite ugly,) straight down to the clothing they wear (that especially out of Los Angeles is always just, plain, well… wrong, laughable, right down to their jeans.) We can support this case with one book, which clearly illustrates the huge differences. It is titled, The Image Makers – Sixty Years of Hollywood Glamour, it is a preponderance of evidence that the 1970s marked the end of the style era in film.

    My point is, we cannot look to Hollywood today for anything regarding style or clothing. It is not the Hollywood of pre-1975.

    Yes, Elizabeth Taylor was honestly the last movie star. Today, the men and women, they promote in that business do not look the same. There are no more people in film that look like Laurence Olivier, Tyrone Power, Grace Kelly (think of when she makes her entrance in Hitchcock‘s, To Catch a Thief – my Lord, simply breathtaking, stunning,) Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster, Helmut Berger, or Alain Delon (I could add more but for illustration the list always ends in the 1970s.) The films are not the same quality either. It is over. Therefore, here again, as you are well illustrating with something as basic as jeans, true quality, and the quality of history (in this case clothing style in denim) is proof that history is something well worth remembering, and recalling.

    Regards,
    Nicola

  4. Vickan says:

    Nicola: You are right, in a way. But in defence of modern day’s Hollwood Stars; Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley are all breathtakingly beautiful. On the men’s side, there is Jude Law for example.
    But many of them are, unfortunatly tacky!

  5. cocostella says:

    There are plenty of modern manufacturers making retro jeans and retro denim in more modern cuts. Most are produced in Japan. A few come to mind: Sugar Cane, Flat Head, Studio d’ Artisan, Oni, Samuri, Iron Heart, 5EP, and even Dior makes a perfect modern fitting raw indigo jean in Japanese denim.

  6. Thanks to all for the comments. It has generated some good response on where to find modern examples of this sort of denim – which was one of the purposes of the article.