By: LEHER KALA
The final season of Mad Men began on Star World Premiere last week. For the few still uninitiated, it’s a fascinating portrayal of the advertising world in 1960s New York. Subtle yet explosive, the show has created a unique aesthetic as well, and its sartorial impact cannot be overstated. The ’60s come alive in every frame with mustard plaid and blue stripes, flowery prints and the ubiquitous fedora of the time.
Mad Men is as much about flamboyant visual embellishing as it is about competition, rivalry and women’s lib. The styling is painfully accurate — in Season Seven’s first episode, the protagonist Don Draper is seen with an electric razor, an indication the show is now almost in ’70. It’s interesting to note that, so far, almost nobody has ever appeared on Mad Men wearing jeans.
But we can be sure that denims will make their debut in Season Seven, after all, how else can you define the ’70s, other than bell-bottoms and Woodstock? Nothing reflects a particular era like the jeans people wore. It’s no wonder acid finish jeans were wildly popular in the ’80s, easily the worst fashion decade ever. Think Madonna and Cyndi Lauper with permed hair, neon pink lipstick and outrageously cut denims.
Made famous by heavy metal bands the look was of destroyed fabric, jeans bleached and dyed almost white. To top it all they were almost always high waisted, a singularly unappealing look, fit only for a costume party celebrating that decade. Then Bruce Springsteen rescued denim with his simple, straight lined Levi’s and tight white T-shirt, an iconic image that endures from then.
I’m something of a jeans connoisseur and I can never resist buying yet another pair of good jeans. There is only one occasion in my opinion where they’re not appropriate; a funeral. Blue jeans are an equaliser with staunch proletariat roots. Everybody owns a pair, right from Obama to a factory worker in Gurgaon and they’re looking for exactly the same thing in a purchase— how good you look when you pour yourself in them.
Even the most status conscious will dump a luxury brand for Zara, if it’s showing off a posterior to advantage. It is the only item of clothing where you can choose to be stylish by spending as little as Rs 500 or as much as Rs 20,000. Even when the world went through a severe economic slowdown in 2009 the denim industry worldwide held its own, and in India continues to grow at 11 per cent. How many does one actually need?
For those puzzled by how many varieties and styles of blue there can possibly be, there’s skinny, hipster, bootleg, demi curve, rugged, high and low waisted, to name just a few. If you choose right, a pair can make you look two sizes smaller.
I can’t imagine a time not all that long ago when women wearing jeans was considered inappropriate, or far worse, unfashionable. An older generation of classical actors like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly were rarely photographed in them. Helen Gurley Brown, author of Sex and the Single Girl published in 1962 was firm in her advice that women who wanted to appear appealing to men should stick to skirts and never don pants and jeans. Her book was a bestseller but readers rejected this advice. You can be bold, feminine and effortlessly sexy in denims. To quote the current hit Lana Del Ray song, Blue Jeans, that goes: “Blue Jeans, white shirt, you walked into my room and made my eyes hurt.”