I’m with the band. Even if you’re not you can at least pretend to be this season – it’s the look, the mood and it’s the phrase I found myself writing down the most at the autumn/winter 2013-14 menswear and womenswear shows. And that’s not because I’m a lazy journalist. There’s no getting away from the fact that music and fashion right now are having their moment back up on stage, on the catwalk once more.
You can attribute it to the tangibles: there’s The Met’s Punk exhibition; there’s the Victoria & Albert Museum David Bowie exhibition; there’s the return of Glastonbury this year after an Olympic hiatus – not to mention the general impending bohemian-escapist romance that comes with a season of muddy fields and feather headdresses, incoherent days spent in a haze with friends – and there is of course the prominent return to the style scene of Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane, music-fashion-consort extraordinaire. He designs for boys that are in the band and girls that want to be on the arms of the boys in it (they’re probably trying to blag their way backstage too - who, after all, wouldn’t?).
But why do we all want to be in that band right now? Why is dishevelled suddenly chic and back on the agenda once more, when last we saw it back in the early noughties, a Russell Brand-Pete Doherty hybrid that then seemed to be working its charm? But give it a couple of years and suddenly we all got a bit bored of hair that hadn’t seen a brush for days and that effortless rock ‘n’ roll vibe that came with not having yet been to bed the morning after the night before didn’t look so effortless after all. It all became a bit contrived – and that’s how trends fall out of favour.
So we looked to the next best effortless thing, which was minimalism. For guys that meant taking a pair of cropped skinny trousers, a T-shirt and a jacket; paying attention to the nuances of the fifties; working a simple bomber into their look to transform it into something striking. Easy. Cool. Swoon.
And the same happened for women. Boho lost its prairie legs - it didn’t look cool anymore (if indeed it ever did). Hips enlaced with low-slung embellished leather were lost to defined waists, trousers that fitted properly, specifically and directionally. Maje and Sandro made their mark; Phoebe Philo went back to tame Celine and in doing so romanced everyone with an elegant sense of austerity. It spread and we all looked to our clothes to possess a certain sense of clarity. Sleek lines, sense of purpose, statements without sentiment. Job done.
But the point of music, like fashion, is to escape. They’re both infatuations of sorts and all infatuations have a shelf life. We move on. We have to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fall for something twice (that’s the point of the fashion cycle after all), and this time around we’ve once again opted for that subcultural seduction so inherent in music – fashion the instrument upon which it’s played out. The clothes in fact are the band.
It’s partly because we’re getting nostalgic – all things nineties killing us softly over the past two years, following on from an overwhelming wallow in a paddling pool of eighties inspiration that went before. And it was the nineties that was the decade that gave rise to the glories of grunge and the brilliance of a can’t-give-a-damn attitude. And now we want our rock gods to be bad again. We know we’re going to get hurt but we’re also quite happy to go along for the ride – flannel shirt, splash of studs and sequins on a leather jacket and boots to stomp the hell out of at the ready. It’s quite the contrast to those sharp lines and severity that still sit tight in our wardrobes now but will soon start to look tired in favour of clothes that shout fun, wild abandonment and lost youth. Cos we're with the band, yeah.