Thursday, May 24, 2012

Essay on Fashion

Essay on Fashion

The influence of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on fashion in London during the sixties
The London fashion and music of the 1960s survived a revolution, or, rather, several revolutions in different spheres of life in a row. Later it turned out that not only Britain went through the immense changes in outlook and attitudes – the whole world underwent the revolutionary changes – the Britain’s musical bands conquered the planet and ruled its kingdom of music from 1960s and on.

But in the end of the 1950s, after a slow post-war economic recovery, nobody would believe this could happen – the British music was striving for someone outstanding. America had Bob Dylan and Elvis; picky London has still been looking for its favourites. Luckily, they emerged quite soon, in fours, sweeping away the past and making way into the future, leaving and enormous footprint on music, lifestyles, fashion, culture, attitudes, politics and relationships of that time. Virtually everything they touched has changed immensely. The trendsetters of the sixties, whose names are still known to millions of people around the world, remain the phenomenon of the popular music even now, almost half a century later. Although these bands differed in music and attitude, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, conjointly began what was later called “The British invasion”, which shaped the world music culture of the 1960s and continued to influence it for the following decades.


And although the British invasion owes much to a 15-year-old Marsha Albert of Silver Spring, Maryland, who, after watching Evening News report about the Beatlemania in the United Kingdom, wrote a letter the following day to disc jockey Carroll James at radio station WWDC asking "why can't we have music like that here in America?” (Spizer) – the first Beatles song has been aired seven days later, the US would still eventually discover the phenomenon, and all the talented later bands and singers, because something really outstanding was going on in the United Kingdom – the best of the best were being born.

Later, the Beatles were joined by the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Who, the Kinks, the Pretty Things, Dusty Springfield, the Dave Clark Five, Chad & Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, The Troggs, etc (Encyclop√¶dia Britannica. 2009).

As for the top two of the British invaders – The Beatles and the Rolling Stones - have always rivalled in popularity both at home and abroad, though their music and attitudes were completely different, almost opposite. The Beatles were Mr Nice Guys, neat and polite, almost perfect, while the Rolling Stone seemed not to care about the public opinion not even a bit: they swore and misbehaved, wore whatever they wanted and spread the sexual revolution into the hearts and the minds of the young fans.

A brief analysis of the stories, the music and the fashion styles will help us see whether they have really been the rivals and why.

The birth of the Beatles
The Beatles officially emerged in 1960, though John Lennon and Paul McCartney met, formed a band and began performing much earlier, in 1957. But the first real success came in late 1962, when their first single “Love me do” reached the top twenty UK charts. Five years (if we take 1957 as a birth year of the Beatles) is a long period of time, especially for the band. The formation of the members and the style took place within this period. Some members left the initial band (Stuart Sutcliffe, who decided to resume his studies in Germany but soon died from brain haemorrhage, and Pete Best, replaced by Ringo Starr), the managers changed (the band’s unofficial manager, Allan Williams, from the “Hamburg era” has eventually been replaced by Brian Epstein), the record labels switched (The Beatles 2000). Finally, when the success came, the manager, Brian Epstein, began shaping the appearance of the Great Four. First of all, he asked them stop eating on stage, swearing and smoking. Brian Epstein’s vision of the band was what one could describe as “the smart good boys from the neighbourhood”, which automatically meant better places to perform and bigger (and more well-to-do) audience. Epstein did not know in a couple of years “Beatlemania” would carry away the minds and senses of youngsters all around the world. But he certainly had a presentiment about it. Though it was overbold at the time, Epstein believed they would become greater that Elvis.

Hearing about the need to change the style, The Beatles did not argue too much as they respected Brian Epstein’s views, and as John Lennon put it: “it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage. […] We stopped champing at cheese rolls and jam butties; we paid a lot more attention to what we were doing, did our best to be on time and we smartened up” (The Beatles 2000, 67).

This process of “smartening up” initiated the new era of style and trendsetting in Britain and, eventually, the whole world. The fans quickly adopted anything from haircut to clothes. And that’s where the London’s fashion of the sixties originated from a great deal.

The formation of the Rolling Stones
Choosing a style of the good boys meant the bad boys place became vacant. Not for too long for sure. The very same year the Beatles released their first successful single, a new rock band emerged on the British stage. The contrasting was a shrewd move, and ever since, the two bands have been rivalling for the attention of the music fans, offering an allusion to the eternal confrontation of good and evil.

Mick Jagger’s stated in one of his interview: “In England they were very ready for another band”. “It was funny, because the Beatles had only been around a year.” – He remembers in his interview Jann Wenner of the Rolling Stone magazine in 1995 – “...people are snobby in England, so they wanted a band from the South. We were it.” (Wenner, 2003)

Unlike the Beatles, who split up in 1970, and never rejoined, the Rolling Stones remain one of the most fruitful and creative rock bands ever. The cooperation of Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards tends to continue, no matter what, for over forty five years (though Jagger and Richards know each other since the early 50s: they were classmates at a Primary School in Kent). The two met later, in early sixties to form a band that would become one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The Rolling Stones had a somewhat slower pace to success but by mid 1960s they firmly held the second place in terms of popularity. Mick Jagger’s sexual voice and physically-involved style of performance was outstanding: a white performer doing it in a black way. Jagger was the first one to do it after Elvis. And he was good at it.

The Rolling Stones did not compromise with what was trendy and stuck to their guts, and eventually ruled the stage for decades, doing some real show. Jagger and Richards, along with other members of the group performed numerous and various scandalous acts, and still remain in the center of mass media’s attention. They have been labeled the Kings of rock and roll and no band ever could even come close to the heights of their achievements in order to call their status in question.

“[I can’t get no] Satisfaction” was the single that made the Rolling Stones popular overnight, just like “I want to hold your hand was for the Beatles”.

Years after, the Rolling stone would become rock idols. They will release over 90 singles, over two dozen studio albums, ten of which are among Rolling Stone magazine’s The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, with their 1972 double album Exile on Main St. rated number seven. The Beatles’ albums Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Revolver, and the Rubber Soul have been rated number one, three and five respectively (The Rolling Stone magazine).

The adoption of the band style
The Beatles eventually adopted a style that was far less “sleek” (the hairstyle had never been like that). But that happened later. The Beatles started as leather clad and greasy haired, which is now hard to imagine. At the beginning of their official career the Beatles changed their appearances according to their manager’s tastes and opinions, which implied that jeans were not particularly smart, as was not leather, and had to be replaced by matching, impeccably tailored smart suits, black or grey. Epstein’s taste made them look like one, even though the Beatles were completely different in appearance. Eventually, they even bowed together, caught in the concept of alien perfection. Some people loved it; others wanted some real, earthly thing, and those turned to the Rolling Stones.

The latter, on the contrary, had an image of the wild rebels, which, actually, proved to be true much later that it has been invented. The Rolling Stones also changed the band managers and the recording labels (including Decca, London, Rolling Stones, Virgin, etc). Their “bad boys” image and attitude is rumoured to have been initially made up by their second (or, rather, “the first official”; the first one – Giorgio Gomelsky – simply had no signed contract with the band) manager Andrew Oldham, but there is no proof. Rather, the image and the aggressive attitude have been conceived by Brian Jones, the founder of the band.

The names
The names of the bands appeared as an allusion to a musical piece or band preceding the formation of the new entity.

The Beatles owed its name to Stuart Sutcliffe, one of the original members of the band, who suggested making a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, a Texas rock & roll band and its singer and songwriter, through naming the band this particular way (Harry, 103).

The Rolling Stones got their name half-accidentally: the group members claim it was Brian Jones who called the Jazz News to place an advertisement (Brian was looking for the band members at that moment), panicked and glanced on a Muddy Water LP and picked the Rollin’ Stone track to serve as a name for the band (Loewenstein & Dodd 42). This lucky choice led to the fact that there are far more of those who heard the name of the band than those who both heard the name and the music of the Rolling Stones.

The music genres
The Rolling Stones’ music genres primarily were: the rock, rock and roll, blues-rock, blues, and rhythm and blues. The Beatles experimented first with the skiffle, and then quickly moved to the rock and roll, the pop music, the rock (with the elements of the folk rock), adding some classical music to their later albums, and sometimes directing a completely different way to the psychedelics. Even the samples of the Indian classical music could be found in their experimental albums (Gould, 2008).

The Beatlemania and its results
On 26 December 1963, when their single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was released, it sold a million copies in ten days. Since then, each single sold over a million copies in the U.K. and the “Beatlemania” is claimed to emerge. This phenomenon, causing hysteria over the Fabulous Four public appearances continued for several years.

During the times of their career, the Beatles have had 40 number one chart hits. They have been honoured with 7 Grammy Awards, and collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of 100 most important and influential people of the 20th century. In the UK The Beatles have been awarded 4 Multi-Platinum albums, 4 Platinum albums, 8 Gold albums and 1 Silver album, which the results in the United States were even more impressive: 6 Diamond albums, as well as 24 Multi-Platinum albums, 39 Platinum albums and 45 Gold albums ((The Rolling Stone Magazine, 2004). They are, by any definition, the world’s greatest band ever.

The Recording Industry Association of America recently proclaimed that The Beatles have sold more albums in the US than any other artist (Recording Industry Association of America, 2009).

In 1968 the Rolling Stones were called “The Biggest Rock & Roll Band in the World”. They sold over 200 million albums (Holton & Billingham), while the Beatles sold over a billion by 1985 (according to the EMI).

In 1989 The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while the Beatles got there one year earlier, in 1988.

Ironically, in 2004, The Rolling Stone magazine rated The Beatles number one among the Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rolling Stones band has been rated number four, after Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley (The Rolling Stone Magazine, 2004).

The impact on the fashion of 1960s
Both the Beatles and the Rolling Stone made a remarkable sociological and cultural impact on the young people of the 1960s. In the United States, these bands topped the list of the “British invasion” phenomenon, while back home another curious dynamic cultural trend was born – the Swinging London.

Sort of a cultural revolution, praising optimism and hedonism, this phenomenon was probably a response to the slow post-WWII recovery of the British economy, which lasted in Britain during the whole decade of the 1950s (Gilbert, 2006).

By the beginning of the 60s, the late 50s style and the American movies glamour type of clothes was still actual for the women, the boys were mostly “Teddy”-style. However, the Mods (the London Modernists) began to emerge quite soon, and the clash of the styles inevitably led to further development of fashion. The Edwardian-based fashions of the young people called the Teds included long slim jackets with velvet trim, thin ‘bootlace’ ties, short stovepipe trousers with brightly patterned socks below and ‘brothel creepers’ or ‘winkle-pickers’(Braggs & Harris). The Teddy Boys were the teenaged ‘rock and roll’ rebels from the more deprived London areas of the early Fifties.

The continuous fight of the Mods and the Rockers, actual in the 1960s, is represented in the early styles of the Beatles (the Mods) and the Rolling Stones (the Rockers). The time passed, and the more respectable the Beatles became, the more rebellious the Rolling Stones were.

The Fabulous Four had a serious impact on the mass of young people in four major trends: the haircuts, the suits, and the footwear.

The Haircuts
The accepted haircut for men of the 1950s – the beginning of the 1960s was above the ears. The Teds wore comparatively long hair with plenty of styling hair cream shaping it. The front was either a quaff or the Elephant’s Trunk; the back was called a Duck’s Ass – also known as D.A. (Braggs & Harris).

When the Beatles style emerged, it has changed the hair styling of London, Britain and the whole world forever.

The famous Beatle haircut (a straight cut collar-length at the back and over the ears at the sides, with a straight fringe) resembled of the mop so much that is was called the mop-top or Arthur (after George Harrison’s joke at a press conference at the Plaza Hotel in New York during their first visit to the United States – by the way, the Beatles hairstyle was mocked severely in the USA).

With time, the popularity became so immense, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States, that soon the Beatle wigs were produced in abundance (some even labelled “authentic”). Eventually, the Beatles wig has been recognized one of the best selling pieces of pop-related merchandise ever.

In a couple of years the fabulous four began to differentiate their looks: Harrison was the first one to sport long hair and John Lennon first put on his signature round, thin-rimmed “tea shade” glasses. Later, by the late 60s, all the members of the Beatles band had longer hair, sometimes wore full beards or moustaches (the Beatles 2000, 236).

The Rolling Stones were thin, long-haired and good-looking bad boys. They also fitted the status of the sex symbols of the decade. From the very beginning of their musical careers, they had longer hair and all dressed differently – their style was all about their individuality and misbehaviour.

Although the members of both bands were no angels in terms of physical pleasure and drug use, they were treated according to their stage images: the Rolling Stones were constantly harassed by the police for drug abuse and hooliganism, while the Beatles were welcomed in the Queen’s residence.

Hair styles for men gradually lengthened as the decade progressed: the ‘mop-top Beatle’ style, once short, eventually became longer and reminded more and more of the casual ‘Rolling Stones’ style to the shoulder length hair. This style has been particularly favoured by the hippies of the later Sixties.

The Suits and the outfit
In March 1962 the Beatles appeared on stage in grey lounge suits with thin velvet lapels, made by the high-street tailors Burton. The Mods youth cult favoured the collarless suits which has been cultivated by the Beatles band in the early Beatlemania years. The new bands emerging in the British show business of that time also found this style more preferable than the leather trousers and plaid shirts. The men of the sixties also favoured wearing double-breasted suits of crushed velvet or striped patterns, brocade waistcoats, shirts with frilled collars – the dandy style, which the Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones loved and supported.

The Beatles have been considered the “suit” band, while the Rolling Stones were the “T-shirt” band, and the whole industry has been divided by the professing these opposite styles.

Further development of the styles
During the psychedelic era of 1967–1968, the Beatles popularized and wore bright-colour paisley suits and shirts and floral-patterned trousers. Later the Beatles grew beards and drifted towards more hippie looks, wearing the Indian-influenced fashions like sandals or the collarless shirts, which pre-professed the hippy era styles.

By the late 1960s, the Beatles switched to the denim jackets, t-shirts, blue jeans – the type of clothes that could be referred to as the casual fashion. Tight jeans, popular with both sexes, were a key part of the early Mod fashion by 1962. By the end of the decade they began being replaced by the Hippie-style flared, shredded and patched jeans.

John Lennon obviously enjoyed wearing solid white suits and was probably the most outstanding and changeable in terms of style. This could probably be explained by the fact that Lennon’s choice of clothes greatly depended on the ideas and acts he supported or disapproved of at that particular moment.

The four individuals who didn’t always think alike and had minds of their own and eventually (by the end of the 1960s), each Beatle seemed to adopt their own style in clothes as well: Paul became clean cut and professional, Ringo was neat and dandyish, George favored the earthy middle-eastern guru style, and John became the chameleon.

The fashion store business
The Beatles realized their influence on fashion and style was immense in the 1960s. In order to support this phenomenon, the Fabulous Four opened the Apple boutique (run by Dutch hippie designers Simon and Marijke) in 1968. The second shop, specialising in theatrical clothing, followed quite soon. However, the undertaking was not too successful due to the high prices. Suffering the huge losses, the shops closed in a couple of months, after the Beatles took what they wanted from the stock and gave away the rest. In any case, the establishment was a wonderful index of the latest fashion trends in London of the late 1960s.

The Footwear
The Beatle boots are tight-fitting, ankle-length boots with a pointed toe (sort of a mix of Winkle-pickers and Cuban-heels).

The Beatles owe this type of footwear to Brian Epstein, who added Cuban heels to the Chelsea boots of the London footwear company Anello & Davide and made the boys put them on for the performance. The boots under drainpipe trousers added to the new smart Beatles looks and attitude of the early 1963. The boots were further replaced by the sandals in the hippy period. Each time The Fabulous Four introduced some new elements of their style, it changed the assortment of the clothes shops of the Swinging London of the 1960s.

The Attitudes
While the Beatles became less and less unified, their creative side became more philosophical, at the same time depicting the most burning issues of the time. The influence of the band on the minds and attitudes of the youth was immense. The Beatles used their power of influence to draw the attention of the public to the problematic moments of the society: war and peace, love and hatred, relationships, politics, power, life became the top themes of their creative works. They have been certainly both praised and criticized severely by the masses, just like the Rolling Stones have been. The constant challenge and misbehaviour of the latter probably has been more But they were undoubtedly the main trendsetters of their decade, leaving behind an impressive influence on culture, style and relationships of the time.

The overall impact of the British bands of the 1960s
When they emerged the United States global dominance of rock and roll shifted to the United Kingdom. The accent also switched from soloists to groups (especially in fours). The musicians started writing songs of their own, no longer using the services of the professional songwriters, and impact of the changes in fashion could hardly be underestimated.

They were exceptional songwriters and great musicians, too. Although some of them mastered their talents decades later. What is more important – they had the faith, the guts, and the charisma to conquer the world’s ears and live in the hearts and minds of millions of musical fans. With the flow of time their music does not get old. It still sounds fresh and alien. Their style is recognizable. They were the emblems of their epoch, having impacted virtually every aspect of life. The music, the shows, the scandals and the sensations around their private and public lives added to the anthology of the modern show business. Numerous covers and allusions were made basing on the music of these outstanding artists. The majority of modern performers have in one way or another been influenced by the creative works of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. They were lucky to begin the era of the swinging London, they were courageous enough to start the British invasion, and they were strong enough to find inner sources for personal creativity for several decades. The Beatles suffered great losses after John Lennon’s murder in 1980. It had lost George Harrison, who died from cancer in 2001. But Paul and Ringo still remain active and quite interesting in terms of music. The fact that the bang had split up at the beginning of the 1970, luckily has not destroyed the talents of the Fabulous Four, and they remained active in their individual musical careers. The Rolling Stones also takes pauses in their bank activities, and during that time each member releases an album, which means four creative pieces of work instead of one. The musical and cultural phenomena of the 1960s that gave birth to the most outstanding bands of the XX century began the new era in the pop and rock music. The musicians of the future will continue being influenced by these phenomena, as these were the roots of the modern music and fashion style.

Fashion is a changeable issue, one may notice from the fashionable magazines or stories, but the Beatles and the Rolling stones managed to become the fashion idols for the whole generation of the British youth of the 1960s.
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