1 Introduction: Fashion and Cultural Memory 1
2 Vintage: Fashioning Time 15
3 Icons of Modernity: Sixties Fashion and Youth Culture 37
4 Style Narratives: Sixties in the Twenty-First Century 65
5 Investing (in) Time: Collecting and Consuming the Past 89
6 Vintage Style and Mediated Memories: Sixties DIY 113
7 Un/timely Fashion 139
2 Shoppers outside the Lord John shop in Carnaby Street, London 1965.
Photo: Peter King/Fox Photos/Getty Images 40
3 A “Mod” girl is measured for a suit in a Carnaby Street tailors, London
1964. Photo: Keystone Features/Getty Images 45
4 A young couple coming out of Mates boutique in Carnaby Street, London
1966. Photo: Ray Roberts/Getty Images 48
5 Models Jackie Moodie (left) and Faith Ibrahim wearing striped minidresses
by Charlotte Warren-Davis at Avantgarde, at the Seekers showrooms in
Sloane Street, London 1966. The dresses are from the Autumn and Winter
collection 1966. Photo: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 51
6 The Who live on stage with Pete Townshend wearing Union Jack jacket
and doing “windmill” arm, 1966. Photo: Chris Morphet/Redferns 55
7 Mods on scooters wearing parka coats in the entrance to the Scene Club
in London c.1964. Photo: David Redfern/Redferns 57
8 Outside of the boutique I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet in London’s Portobello
Road 1967. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images 60
9 Record cover of The Manchesters, Diplomat Records c.1965. © 2015,
Inspired Studios, Inc. All rights reserved 66
10 “Late sixties” styles worn at a sixties event in Koblenz, Germany.
Photo: author 74
11 Two of the mods featured in Dean Chalkley’s film The New Faces at the
Book Club, Shoreditch, London 2010. Photo: PYMCA/UIG via Getty
12 “Early to mid-sixties” style worn at a sixties event in Koblenz, Germany.
Photo: author 83
13 Clothing tag of a 1960s coat by the company Hecoma, sold at Budin store. Photo: author 95
14 Detail of matching accessories, green dress worn with red handbag, gloves and boots. Photo: author 101
15 Sixties styler’s shoe collection. Photo: author 103
16 Sixties styler in Columbus chair, wearing 1960s dress and boots.
Photo: author 106
17 Custom-made sixties dress in pop art style. Photo: author 120
18 Object and image collage in the bedroom of a sixties styler. Photo: author 121
19 Sixties styler wearing self-made fringe dress modeled on film. Photo: author 124
20 Sixties styler at the Book Club, Shoreditch, London 2010. Photo: PYMCA/
UIG via Getty Images 126
21 Apartment of sixties styler, Berlin, Germany. Photo: author 132
22 Sixties styler, Cologne, Germany. Photo: author 134
23 Twiggy 1966. © Roger-Viollet/Image Works 135
In 2012 Showstudio released a short film titled The New Faces, photographed by Dean Chalkley. The film is shot in crisp black and white, capturing in slow motion against a white seamless studio backdrop the dance moves, poses and appearances of eight twenty-first-century modernists—six men and two women—dressed in sharp suits, polished shoes and meticulous hair styles. The viewer hears no music to this scene of dancing bodies, but the voices of three men talking about their passion for modern, timeless clothing and style. The camera zooms in on the details of clothing and appearance: on the covered buttons of suit jackets, the side vents of neatly ironed trousers, the women’s eye make-up, the tassel and woven loafers, the heels that leave dark traces of the dancing bodies on the white vinyl studio backdrop. The immaculate old-fashioned clothes, the bodies dancing to mute music, the slow motion and monochrome photography create a scene that accentuates and aestheticizes a material absence and presence of time. The twenty-minute documentary gives a glimpse into the endurance of mid-twentieth-century fashion and style that is picked up, worn, enacted, remembered and reimagined by a new generation of youth or young adults, whose looks and moves are material testimony of the “affective force” (see Thrift 2010) of former fashions, or how past aesthetics “move” present bodies.
In this book I seek to explore the experience and allure of past fashions to new wearers, bringing together different times and places of research. Empirically the book builds and expands on research I began to pursue in Germany in the early twenty-first century, culminating in my German book Sixties Dress Only: Mode und Konsum in der Retro-Szene der Mods (Jenss 2007). Early stages of this research also appeared in some English publications (Jenss 2004, 2005a). This work is based on an ethnographic study of the sixties scene in Germany, with a particular focus on how clothing of the 1960s is used, refashioned and forms a material part of practices and processes of identification and social relationships in the context of youth culture.
My research evolved as part of a collaborative project located at the universities of Dortmund and Frankfurt am Main (funded by The Volkswagen Foundation 2002–5) that investigated dynamics of uniformization and seriality in diverse clothing contexts, from corporate dress codes to everyday fashion, the rise of fast fashion, and mass-individualization (see Mentges and Richard 2005; Mentges, Neuland-Kitzerow and Richard 2007).
After I had moved to take on a new position in the US, the work on this book, Fashioning Memory: Youth Culture and Vintage Style, initially began to evolve as a project of translation. Yet with the dynamics of time and place, the process of writing and further research, this project started to crystallize its own focus on the intersection of youth, vintage, fashion time and cultural memory—with the latter offering a productive methodological angle to explore how time or the crosstemporal dynamics of fashion and youth cultural style come to be experienced and enacted through dress practices. While such an interest was to an extent inherent in the original field research and interviews, it is the bringing together of fashion and memory as an “operative metaphor,” and the understanding of remembering as a “performative act,” as it is conceptualized in more recent research in the field of memory studies, as I will outline in the introduction to this book, that shed new light on my material. In addition, it is the role of language itself and the thinking about shifting terminologies, for example from retro to vintage, and what these shifts may entail, as well as the impact of time and change itself—including the developments of new technologies and the fostering of vintage aesthetics, as well as experiences of nostalgia through media over the last decade (see Jenss 2013) and the observation of changing preferences, aesthetics and perceptions of “the sixties” and sixties style—that led me to reflect on and expand my research through perspectives on time, memory, fashion and modernity.
This book brings then different phases of research together, with insights—and hindsight—emerging from each that inform the chapters in this book, including historical research on the rise of vintage in fashion, and on the allure of the new and the old in youth culture, empirical explorations of the materialities of secondhand consumption and the performance of vintage style, and their framing through perspectives and theories on the dynamics, mediation and experience of cultural memory, modernity and the temporalities of fashion.