We are not the first, and we will not be the last…

1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, biba, bill gibb, british boutique movement, bus stop, catherine buckley, cosmopolitan, ossie clark, yves saint laurent, zandra rhodes

I think it is safe to say that I love old clothes. I dream them, I live in them and I covet the ones I don’t have. But I am under no illusion that there is anything inherently unique or radical about this. The uniqueness comes from the impression of your personality in whatever you choose to wear. The fabrics, the colours, the shapes, these are the expression of my inner self in one, superficially superficial, way.

It is important to remember this: each generation thinks it invented sex, and I fear the same goes for ‘vintage’ clothing. This article makes for fascinatingly familiar reading. Commercialisation is the death knell each time, but in turn becomes the coveted piece of history for the next generation of disillusioned people (see the mention of Catherine Buckley’s old jacquard fabrics in the text of the article. My Buckley skirt is one of these pieces). The irony does not escape me; I wear clothes by Ossie Clark, Biba, Bus Stop… all of who were creating clothes heavily inspired by their own childhoods.

Just wanting a period look is not the important part, anyone can buy a reproduction and plenty of people will, the expression comes from the colours, fabrics, shapes and accoutrements you pick. There is absolutely nothing wrong with new clothing taking influence from old, although my thoughts on direct duplication are well known, but why would you limit yourself to the prints they have chosen this season? There are limitless possibilities when you look around you and take inspiration from a variety of sources other than from conventional fashion magazines or ‘how to’ guides.

That is partly the aim of this blog, and I hope to continue in such a vein for a long time yet…

The Cosmo Girl’s Guide to the Cast-Offs Cult… Cosmopolitan, August 1974.

10 thoughts on “We are not the first, and we will not be the last…

  1. I just picked up a really interesting ’49 shopping pamphlet called ‘100 years of fashion’ and talking about Victorian influences on ‘modern’ (ie late 40s) styles, how to buy them new or thrift them from mother’s old things. Some things never change (although just as there’s snobbery about the 70s with some vintage folk today, some snobby writer has written off the 20s as shapeless and plain! Ha ha!).

    1. I’m actually pretty glad that there is snobbery about the Seventies from some people. It’s hard enough to get the good stuff already! 😉

      They don’t know WHAT they’re missing out on.

      (I’d love to see this pamphlet, you’ll have to blog about it too…)

  2. How salutary – respect to the Cast-Offs Cult! The internet is such a comfy place for self-proclaimed pioneers and experts, it’s nice to be reminded how hard it is to be genuinely original.

    But it’s funny that Ernestine Carter takes such a dim view of looking backwards. Or at least, she seems to think it’s bad for Fashion, whatever that is. I love the reference to Kenneth Tynan citing the advent of “technology” as the means of the “instant recall” that makes all this nostalgia possible. That was the just the cinema and the telly. Little did he know…

  3. Seeing a reference to Antiquarian, I recall a particular 1940s green silk patterned tea-dress I bought there for, oh, couldn’t have been more than a quid or two. Wore it to death during the summer of 1977 – I worked just off the Kings Road, so there was a lot of Punk on the streets, but there was room for lots of different fashion, and vintage was just one of them.

    1. Ah, that sounds like a beauty.

      I often wonder if I would have been one of these cast-off people if I had been around then. I like to *think* I would have been shopping in Quorum and Biba, but if I was anything like the person I am today, I would have been sneering at their remakes and shopping in Essenses and Antiquarius instead!

  4. I always feel funny trying to answer the question “what is your favourite era in fashion?”. “Oh, you know, 70’s does the 30’s”.

    I’ve often wondered the same as you. Would I be shopping all of my favourite labels, were I actually in the 70’s? Quorum, Jeff Banks, Bill Gibb etc. Somehow I see myself more likely making weekly trips to the Portobello Road Market. Or possibly scavenging racks at an early Granny Takes a Trip. Simply walking into Biba would just be too easy!

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