Remember seedy New York? You know, those parts of New York that you were actually terrified to venture into. At one point it was the Meatpacking District and for years it was the crude Red Light District that is now Disney-fied but at one point was all hookers, creepy Johns, dopefiends and peep shows. Back then, the outer boroughs were always 'venture there on a death wish'. The East Village, LES and Alphabet City were also havens for gangs and evoked feelings of 'enter at your risk'. Only by talking to old New Yorkers and seeing vintage films and pictures can one even know that their regular Manhattan stomping grounds could've been at one time a breeding ground for unsavory characters and shady dealings.
It was a different era. Easy to hope for but hard to imagine then. The urban future in the 70's and 80's seemed quite bleak. Gangs were unstoppable, the war was over, economic welfare had an impact on the social and political climates as well as personal livelihoods. Tough survival and edgy exteriors became the not so unwelcome vision of the future which was showcased in everything from films to fashion. This vision pulled from the grim and desperate became a bounce back tough edge that went on to define an era and serve as the inspiration for the Gilded Age Fall/Winter 2013 Collection.
Contrasting visions of the future as predicted by books and movies from the 70's and 80's served as the driving force behind what seemed like Gilded Age's Red Light District presentation. Strip away the protective padding, the chain linked props and the punk attitude of the show and what you were left with was great outerwear and ready to wear pieces. However, to strip away the aggressive presentation was to not fully grasp the message of gruffness, repurposed military surplus and rebellious cool.
There were some cool clothing in this collection. Well-made leather pieces of which some were bombers, some motorcycle jackets, some adorned with fur panels, quilted, padded and distressed and displayed over wearable ready-to-wear items. Functional style sweaters with toggle closures, easy trim button-downs in menswear shirtings and washed and dyed slim khakis were at once punk-tinged, army-tinged and vintage-tinged. It was all a redoing of the basics with a gritty edge and wearable sensibilities for a modern youthful man. Tailoring also reared its head in the form of spare car coat toppers, shrunken flannel blazers and a snug dapper pea coat that called to mind the rebellious elements of treating the sartorial as honored as a well worn sweatshirt.
All in all it was an interesting collection of hard edged fashions that were very sellable. I'd like to think that had Reaganomics never emerged, the idea of these clothes as the future would've been greater revered back then. On second thought, to hell with back then! It's much better to don these clothes while strutting to a party in a modern Lower East Side than ducking gang zones in a 70's Meatpacking district.
*Photos courtesy of D. Brown for JacketOptionalShoesRequired.com