In large part, fashion history tends to cast its focus on the privileged echelons of couture, as well as its mythologized cast of designers, stylists, models and business owners. Sure, Coco/Yves/Karl were/are interesting, alluring, fascinating makers of fashion – but it’s delusional to think that style only trickles down from above. Particularly in the last 50 years, street culture has invented, transformed, and revitalized the way we think of fashionability – far beyond the gilded runways of Paris. Fashion historians are better to begin to take note of Harlem, Berlin, and the outskirts of Paris as places of style-making – god knows that the industry already is! A nice recent contribution is the documentary Fresh Dress by African-American filmmaker and musician Sacha Jenkins. The film unfolds as a magical chronicle of hip hop’s relationship to dress, starting at the Southern plantations of pre-Civil Rights America to the black church and Little Richard. Through an incredible line-up that includes Kanye West, Pharell Williams, Nas Jones and Andre Leon Talley, Fresh Dress traces the development of hip hop dress up to today, where its influence is felt more than ever. The best part is, the whole thing is already up on Netflix for you to binge on this fashion month. Who needs the runway when you have the streets!
Watch Fresh Dress here.