Friday, October 31, 2014

Alisha Harmon: The New School Teddy Girl

Alisha Harmon is a model and fashion student who's building her own trend from the ground up. 

        In the world of fashion, it is everyone's goal to stand out. Because of this constant competition, trends are always coming and going, with a new one lurking around every corner. Some trends are quickly popularized and followed by the masses, while so many under-appreciated ones go under the radar almost completely unnoticed. One such subculture was the Teddy Girls of 1950's London.

Teddy Girls photographed by Ken Russell
London, 1950's

        The Teddy Girls, while relatively unknown (I had actually never heard of them until Alisha told me about them, and thank God she did), only really receiving recognition after Ken Russell's now famed photo series The Last of the Teddy Girls resurfaced only a little less than ten years ago, have been very influential in the world of fashion. They have even been credited by Vogue for stylizing such basic closet staples as the jean jacket (The Evolution of the Jean Jacket), and by Modcloth for inspiring more well known subcultures rockabilly and punk rock. 

A photo from Alisha's instagram @iamwinterinc 

       Known for their rejection of the status quo, the Teddy Girls' style was an unexpected mix of borrowed-from-the-boys toughness and Edwardian era femininity. At first glance, Alisha Harmon's style may seem to bear little resemblance to the original Teddy Girls, but that is only because she is a new kind of Teddy Girl all her own, and with a closer look at her personal style, one can see that she and the old school Teddy Girls share many of the same attitudes and sartorial elements. 

 Her Inspiration:                                                              

"I just really liked how
[Tayana] was her[self]
 no matter what."

        More-so perhaps than the Teddy Girls' style, Alisha is very much inspired by their attitudes. What is it that drew Alisha to the Teddy Girls? "The rebellion. The whole, like, rebellious act. [...] they were taking a big risk because, you know, before that you were supposed to conform to the social norms. However, they broke that, and now we're wearing jeans, and we're wearing rock t-shirts and stuff like that." One can see that Alisha is passionate about taking such fashion risks on a daily basis. Her risk taking ranges from using lingerie tops as ready-to-wear, pairing pants with skirts, and not to mention her streetwear-meets-sophisticated mastery of high-low styling.     

"'If this is how I want
to dress, then this is
how I'm going to dress.'"

        When asked about fashion designers, Alisha considers revolutionaries like Alexander McQueen and Yahi Yamamoto among her favorites, admiring the dark colors they use and their affinity for "going outside of the norms." She also lists R&B singer Tayana Taylor as her favorite fashion icon. She describes Taylor's style as "underground" and "tomboy," two words that could easily be used to describe the 1950's Teddy Girls just as well. 

Her Aesthetic:

"I built [my style] on my own."

        Similarly to the original Teddy Girls, who were largely a group of working-class teens, Alisha is very practical in her day-to-day wear. The first thing she asks herself in the morning when choosing an outfit is not "what trends are in?" or "who am I going to see today?", but rather a simpler, more function-based question: "Is it fifty degrees, or is it eighty degrees?" In addition to function, Alisha's style is all about experimentation.  "My's daring. It's out there. It's trying something, and you don't really know where it's gonna go [...]. It's trying it, but you never know, like, if people are gonna like it, but it's still worth the shot. [...I want to get feedback] to see which styles work and which ones don't."

Her Attitude Towards Fashion

        "It describes who you are. [...] The way you dress tells your story, ya know? I know I don't talk much to people, like, I'm very shy, I'm very quiet, but [...] I'd rather be known for the girl who likes to dress up rather than, like, 'oh that's the quiet girl.'"

Her Fashion Advice:

"You should aaaaalways have a leather jacket, some type of boots --  riding boots, combat, any type of boots -- a basic shirt, like a basic white shirt, a basic black shirt. Like, you could be very stylish in just a black t-shirt and regular jeans and some boots, so I think that basic pieces are the best. And probably a print or two, because I like prints. 


Special thanks to Alisha Harmon for allowing me to feature her on my blog
Thanks for reading! <3

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kyle Guerra: The Throwback Kid

Kyle Guerra is an amateur skater and bassist for the band Small Hands, and, in addition to that, a walking time capsule.         

          With this summer’s trends reverting back to the oh so easy and comfortable simplicity of the 90’s (Teva sandals and oversized slip dresses anyone?), including the return of Normcore (a style once reserved for your nerdy, middle-aged father), I thought it perfectly fitting for my newly hatched fashion blog’s first piece to feature a short lived and long divisive 90’s fashion legacy: Grunge.

"Grunge and Glory"
Kristen McMenamy photographed by Steven Meisel for Vogue, 1992
        The "anti-fashion" trend has long been a controversial topic in the fashion world. Many critics cringe at the word "Grunge," even bashing the iconic 1992 Vogue spread created by renowned creative director of Vogue, Grace Coddington, and talented photographer Steven Meisel. However, I believe that when it comes to Grunge many people dislike it not only because they do not understand it (it is, after all, intended to be both misunderstood and undefined), but also because it is so often badly executed.

        After all, Grunge is not just about "dirty" and when it comes to Grunge, the biggest mistake people make — including myself — is planning; no one can successfully feign not caring, both in fashion and in life, and not caring is really what gave birth to Grunge in the first place (thank you, Kurt Cobain). Grunge has been called many things, but when successfully executed can be perfectly summed into one word: cool. What makes something “cool,” you ask?

         In order for something to look cool, it must be completely effortless. In fact, it is only when the awesomeness and visual appeal of a look completely outweigh the amount of effort put into it that it is truly cool.

        This is what brings us to the subject of inspiration for this article. When I asked my friend Kyle if he would be willing to be the subject of my first fashion feature, he was perfectly surprised (remember that one time when I talked about effortlessness being the key???), which assured me that I had chosen the right person.

"I grew up listening to 90's music."

His Inspiration:

[My favorite skateboarder], Bobby Worrest,
he just kinda has, like, a cool style that I
like. He just wears plain clothes, Dickies,
cheap work pants."

        Kyle's style is, to no surprise, very heavily influenced by both the skateboarding and punk-rock culture scenes. He is a bassist for Virginia based band Small Hands and even still forgoes digital music for old fashioned records. But it is not just music culture of the 90's that influences him. Kyle also credits a much more personal tie to that time period as an inspiration to him. "My dad is working-class blue-collar, so he always wore Dickies because that's what he could afford and I just kind of liked it, I guess. They have that classic Chino look, but they're tough. I mean, there's definitely a nostalgia to it.
"I've always loved flannels, I guess."
My dad graduated high school in '93 and if I look at pictures of him in high school, all he's wearing is flannels and stuff." Not only did I genuinely find it interesting that Kyle's father had played such a vital role in creating Kyle's unique aesthetic, but the word "nostalgia" also quickly caught my attention, reminding me of Kurt Cobain's 1993 interview with author Darcy Steinke, where he cited his nostalgia for the years before his parents' divorce as a reason for his signature style of "perpetual adolescence." 

His Aesthetic:    
"One of our friends will walk up, and we're just
like, 'dude, you look like a grandpa'."

        What makes Grunge great, and in many ways more practical than other trends, is not only its visual appeal, but its appeal to both function and economy. Kyle learned this perk early on, and has been repurposing many of his worn out pants into cut off shorts for years. In fact, it is this necessity for practicality and money saving that creates the worn and torn thrift store look we love so much. "I don't want to spend money on $60 pants and get holes in them. I know what I buy is gonna get a lot of wear and tear." Fortunately for grunge wearers, this
"I buy what I see and I like that's
reasonably priced."
"wear and tear" adds character, rather than depreciating value. "I like it when a shirt looks worn in kind of, so I tend to just wear the shirts I've had a long time.  Me and my skateboarding friends don't really care what we wear; we kind of take pride in it, but not, like, in a pretentious way. We wear dingy clothes because, ya know, we don't want to mess up nice clothes, but at the same time, all we own is dingy clothes because we skate in them and everything." When I asked Kyle if there is any planning involved in creating his outfits, he  sort of responded with both a yes and no: "I don't plan like a chick would, but I guess I kind of pick things. I don't really care about matching...probably because I don't know how to. I just wear what I like."

His Attitude Towards Fashion:
"A lot of it plays into the apathy towards
what we wear...Like I could wear just
whatever I'm feeling -- whatever
I like -- at the time."
 "I think some people take it not, like, too seriously, but I think people worry too much about fashion. When I put something on,  I think about it, but I don't think about it much. But I think it definitely does have an impact on our culture."


Special thanks to Kyle Guerra for being my first feature and to Daniel Kost helping out with the photo shoot
Thanks for reading! <3