Military influences in fashion

Fashion designers have never been able to resist the precision cut of military garments. They are one of their richest sources of ideas and inspiration. There are echoes of all the classic staples that make up the uniforms of soldiers, aviators and sailors in the modern dress, constantly revisited, adapted and re-interpreted.

In 1920 Coco Chanel based her wide-legged “yachting pants” for women on sailor’s bell-bottoms. The double-breasted jacket is really a cleverly altered eight-buttoned British naval coat. In 1968 Yves Saint Laurent gave the classic military jacket a safari mood. And in 1971 the same Yves Saint Laurent’s “1940s” couture collection shocked the fashion world, an hommage to the Paris of the 1940s, of the Occupation years. It appalled the fashion critics for its blatant disregard for that most basic rule of haute couture: decorum.

The show was fearless, bold and unprecedented at the time in the way the clothes were styled and presented, meant to liberate, to bring freedom into fashion and its ’40s inflected square-shouldered silhouette became a dominant look of the decade and Yves Saint Laurent became one of the most influential couturiers of the second half of the 20th century. “Chanel gave liberation of the body to women and Saint Laurent gave power to women with the men’s clothes.” Pierre Bergé.

It’s been recruited for every designer’s work at some point or another and, of course, it’s been a recurrence in every Burberry collection: every single aspect of the military uniform has been consistently revived, advanced to today, made urban. “The military uniform is everything civilian clothing aspires to be: decorative as well as decorous, functional as well as flattering, dignified as well as daring, perfectly cut as well as comfortable.”

I hope your weekend was lovely and that your week is off to a very stylish and wonderful start!


source: photos by Kalle Gustafsson for Madame Figaro; you can read more about Yves Saint Laurent’s 1971 collection here ; the last quote by Richard Torregrossa from his book, Cary Grant: A Celebration Of Style


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