A lot happened in 1983: My best friend was born, seat belts became mandatory in the UK, the US Embassy in Beirut was bombed, Hooters opened in Clearwater Florida, and Microsoft Word was first released.
That year is also known in certain circles as the year that Katharine Hamnett launched her first ever protest slogan t-shirts. Written across the front of each shirt were message such as: CHOOSE LIFE, WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW, PRESERVE THE RAINFOREST, SAVE THE WORLD, EDUCATION NOT MISSILES. The shirts were designed to be copied with the objective of effecting change by being seminal.
And copied they were. . . The shirts most recently inspired Henry Holland who put a topical spin on the Hamnett tee. The nu wave (rave) of shirts sported slogans such as: DO ME IN THE PARK MARC, TREAT ME MEAN ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, CAUSE ME PAIN HEDI SLIMANE, CUME AGAIN CHRISTOPHER KANE, and GET YER FREAK ON GILES DEACON. With the help of model Agyness Dean the slogan shirt was all the rage...all over again.
Is the medium the message here or have we traded something valuable for a vapid rhyming slogan?
Griselda Pollock, the highly respected and valuable feminist art historian defines avante-gardism as a process that entails the three steps of Reference, Deference and Difference.
According to Griselda, the artist must first reference the work- relate it to what's currently going on (or what was going on in the past). Then Deference, defer to the existing leader. And finally, make an original move- Difference.
Is house of holland a perfect example of avant garde fashion or simply a bad biting of something that was once important?
Whatever you think, there is no doubting that Katharine Harmnett started something, but the slogan tee was far from her only creation.
Her contributions make for an awesomely impressive list, here are some highlights:
She invented: distressed denim, stonewash denim, stretch denim, parachute silk, the crumpled look, military inspired sportswear, power dressing, leggins, lycra, jump suits, retro revivals, and ethical and environmental clothing
She discovered: Ellen Von Unwerth, Juergen Teller, and Terry Richardson
Her 80s campaigns were the first for: Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, and Nadia Auermann