Nothing like skinny jeans has reduced the idea of fashion to a thousand pieces. Over the years I have learned that fashion is periodic, seasonal and momentary while style is epochal.
Then there are some trends, or even some individual items, that have such a hold on the collective imagination that they cross the seasonal boundary. So much so that the market requires them to occupy the scene for a decade, or even more. This is the case of skinny jeans. We’re talking about those trousers that during the early 2000 gave an extreme and horrendous sense to the word tight.
The beginning of a toxic relationship
Year X was 2000. Hedi Slimane was the creative director at Yves Saint Laurent, and for the fall/winter 2000-2001 collection, the last under his direction, he created extremely tight total black garments.
It must be said that in all the fashion shows the men are thin. But seeing that show you understand that something was about to change. In fact, Slimane left YSL, turned down the job at Jil Sander and moved to the helm of Dior Homme. The moment of the revolution.
Over the course of a few years, until his farewell in 2007, Hedi Slimane invented a male silhouette that did not exist. Jackets with clean and precise cuts, tightly fitting on the bust and hips, very tight trousers and pointed ankle boots.
A man must be very thin, better if emaciated, even better if a teenager in crisis with his gender identity, to wear those clothes.
Slimane’s models are like that, androgynous creatures with no curves. Light years away from the men similar to Greek statues on the catwalks of Versace, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.
Usually the models that parade on the catwalk are unattainable, and the same happened in Slimane’s upside down world. But his collections were so coveted to convince men to change their figure.
Even Karl Lagerfeld, who had never given account to anyone, went on a diet just to be able to get into the new Dior garments declaring, as if he were a girl with eating disorders: My dream has always been to wear size 28, which in Italy would be 42. Green Day did the same, following a zone diet to get into the Dior clothes of their tour.
Skinny fashion required such thinness that it often looked better on women, like Nicole Kidman who wore a Dior Homme dress to the premiere of The Hours movie in 2002, or supermodel Kate Moss.
So, without realizing it, fashion has imposed a silhouette instead of just dressing people.
But Hedi does more, follows his passion for rock and forms fashion and music partnerships with various bands of the moment. The Horrors, The Kills, The Libertines with Pete Doherty, who will be her unofficial flagship testimonial.
If you add Pete’s success with audiences and gossip, due more to drugs than music, and his girlfriend of the time Kate Moss, cultural hegemony is born.
As with the styles that make the era, the trend arrived on the street. Everyone wanted (to be able) to wear the symbolic garment of the new millennium, and so the more accessible market adjusts the offer. Skinny jeans for everyone, for a decade, maybe two, until now that hegemony has now disappeared.
The East wind
The wind blowing from the East brings Demna Gvasalia with it, and made such a noise that it almost erased, stylistically speaking, the previous decade. In 2015 Gvasalia, a Georgian designer, became the creative director of Balenciaga, thanks to his independent brand Vetements which rethinks the male and female silhouettes, confusing them in new forms.
No skinny jeans, of course, but trousers with a regular or oversized shape, which also fall badly along the legs, because Gvasalia’s imperative is “let’s do it different way” but in Georgian.
The aim is therefore no longer to sculpt the silhouette, but to deform it.
Gvasalia’s faux provocative collections make Balenciaga arrive on everyone’s mind map, even those who have never heard of either the maison or him or even fashion in general. Yet the cult of the aesthetic of the ugly conceptual, (Miuccia Prada docet) sarcastic irony and a post-Soviet allure conquer everyone with a new obsession.
Once again, what happens in fashion is not far from the man in the street, so little by little skinny jeans starting fading away, with all due respect to the skinny people who had found a glamorous to the extremely long and large trousers on the market.
Regular cuts are back, like the good old Levi’s recommended by all the style and trend websites.
Today, skinny jeans are only worn by the obstinate men for whom changing their mind is equivalent to dying and being reborn; those who wear increasingly tight pants even if they’re not very flattering.
Today, perhaps due to the pandemic, trends seem to be taking other directions. So, putting aside the excessively tight cloths, which are now vulgar, seeing heterosexual white men wearing ultra skinny jeans on the ankles that look like real leggings makes your stomach turn. The trousers widen and make their way to shops’ shelves and end up in the wardrobes of normal people who have at least a principle of logic and good taste.