From cowboys and miners, models and singers, our love affair with denim is eternal. No one has ever said jeans are comfortable, but boy, do they manage to caress every contour of our bodies.
Sung and written about for decades by historians, filmmakers, singers and writers, denim’s antecedents are often questioned. Did Christopher Columbus have denim sails? Were denims designed in the late 19th century as workwear for farm and mine workers in American states? The latter is, in fact true, and the former legend.
Denim was accidentally discovered in the 18th century in a French town called Nimes, while people were trying to clone an Italian fabric called serge, and the material they stumbled upon was named Serge de Nimes. After Levi Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant, brought denim to America in 1853, James Dean’s blue jeans in Rebel Without a Cause a century later in 1955 irrevocably tied denim in with pop culture’s imagination. And what Dean did for a whole generation of men, Marilyn Monroe did for women, in The Misfits.
Across ramps for the last few seasons, edits have seen brands like Burberry Prorsum, Gucci and Stella McCartney splash runways with their interpretations of denim. St Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger and Emporio Armani made hobo luxe with patchwork denims and denim culottes took the culottes rage from last year a step further. Flared jeans, of the big, slouchy, wide-leg variety, worn and loved by ravers across the world were Chanel’s SS 2016 contribution. And bloggers and editors across the world were blown away by the Seoul showing of R. Shemiste, a design label that’s gathered a cult following among the denim obsessed for their innovative use of denim, marrying masculine pool slides with feminine chambray dresses.
While singers like Gwen Stefani, Madonna, TLC and Aaliyah took adventure to new heights, with wildly embellished boot cuts, condoms stuck to overalls and embroidery covered flare jeans, Cindy Crawford, Jane Birkin and Françoise Hardy chose more wholesome denim choices. In the later 90s, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey gave low-waisted jeans a whole new level of danger in their videos I’m A Slave For You and Heartbreaker respectively. And who hasn’t wanted to channel Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey), crawling across the floor in her jean shorts towards her sexy dance instructor (Patrick Wayne Swayze), in Dirty Dancing, the movie that made above the knee cutoffs smoking hot.
Reinvented every few years, equal attention is doled out to the boyfriend, ever-popular skinnies (don’t listen to those style blogs, skinnies are eternal), overalls and flared (high rise and cropped) jeans. And for those, like me, who just can’t get enough of it, there’s always denim on denim, aka Britney and Justin Timberlake’s all denim VMA look.
Though the super-wide 70’s flare, being rocked by Cindy Crawford is sexy as hell, those who want to make a quieter statement can rejoice, because the 90’s boot cut is back, as are style favourite, mommy jeans. Curve hugging and leaner than skinnies, they’re just right for the days you want a touch of excitement, without the drama. Trivia: Tommy Hilfiger gifted one of Monroe’s high-waisted, curvy Levis from ‘The Misfit’ to Britney Spears.
Distressed denims are all the rage, whether you want more holes, less jeans, or just a few subtle slashes along your legs. And while white is the tuxedo of jeans, grey is that in between style you will love when you want just a little bit of fancy for your night out. Boyfriend jeans have gone slimmer and feminine (thankfully!), and are now even being called ‘girlfriend jeans’, and overalls have brought sexy back to workman staple. The denim mini skirt is great, stone washed and in any length, mini, midi and maxi. Just ask Kim Kardashian.
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