Is it possible that the monkey grip streetwear has had on fashion is starting to be pried? That finger by finger the Supreme status urban threads have held are loosening to allow a brand new ruler to emerge? Reading between the fashionable lines of the autumn winter ’19 shows, the grungy, sporty uprising of the past few years is under threat from its antithesis; the schmick, smart sophisticate of the bourgeois.
It’s a polysemous connotation from the history books of the French class system, usually attributed to the somewhat wealthy, somewhat affluent middle and upper classes. Not particularly exclusive, and commonly well-to-do, it was a label often referenced by Karl Largerfeld but with more than a whiff of disdain. The bourgeoisie encompassed the gentrified white collar workers who found financial superiority over the working class proletariat.
From a style point of view, to be prosaic, their uniform was pleasantly dressed-up. It encompassed all the starchy collars, the pleated trousers, the double-breasted jackets and the ladylike skirting, to staunchly maintain its own status quo. And, apparently now this stitchy, top-buttoned fare is back and ready to run streetwear out of town. While it’s hard to imagine the label-loving, exclusive-drop-buying sneaker collectors of Instagram’s most edgy corners will immediately switch to bow-ties and blouson, it’s refreshing to know a wave of opposition is here for diversity. However, come a few more seasons, they may not have a choice. Designers are taking to polish like they took to track-suiting a year ago. Blazers are replacing bombers, midi skirts are side-swiping bike shorts and a slick pant is scaring off every last brunch-attending gym legging.
We saw strong cases for its return in the collections of Valentino and Burberry, and even in a suprisingly Bougie-woke Hedi Slimane’s autumn winter for Celine. Ironically, however, it was Largerfeld’s Fendi swansong, with all its pussy-bows and piped lapels and tailored trousers that most fed the neo-bourgeois Pinterest board. He may have rolled his eyes at the traditional ideal, but he knew how to steer a trend in his direction. This is a return to fashion as fashion, and it’s hard to ignore. Even streetwear king Supreme’s latest collaboration with Jean Paul Gaultier has put a dapper, suity spin on their usual be-hooded couture.
Frenchy je ne sais quoi is never far from the radar when it comes to idealistic wardrobing. It-girl style from Parisian Insta leaders such as Jeanne Damas has been sartorially spruiking nonchalant ensembles of mom jeans and tees and boots for a while now. So, will their relaxed mode take a turn for the fussier as the northern hemisphere leads out of summertime? Almost certainly. We’re predicting a rise in sophisticated pretty, in grown-up tailoring and easy elegance. In tweed outerwear, in pleated culottes, in silk scarfing, in knee-high boots and crisp white button-downs. This Bougie (as its now colloquially referred) incarnation has evolved from the bustles and top hats of its origins, of course, and is instead steeped in 70s equine notes, with all the leathers and heritage prints prestige country has to offer.
Streetwear’s crisis management team have crafted solid troubleshooting, however. Rather than fade into the bad taste background they’ve formed an alliance with another fashion sub-culture: utility. Merging their ease-of-wear policy into cargo pants and flak jackets and parkas to outlast the storm of fashion-most-fickle.
Could this Bougie switch also mean elusive micro collections from major labels (Burberry and Ralph Lauren, for example) will move on from logo’d tees and sweats to take the form of one-off blazers, signature scarves and embossed leather belts? Will there still be a queue out the door when Supreme inevitably collabs with Hedi on a range of collectible leather loafers? Probably. Fashion disciples sitting on the cutting edge can never get complacent, not if they want to remain relevant and surprising.
In a time of such political uncertainty, this return to toeing the hemline seems rather ironic. It’s an anti-revolution of sorts where the bohemia dress as the bourgeois to mix things up. It’s confusing, but then so are these times. Perhaps it’s best not to overthink it and just enjoy the dress up.
Start your Bougie nights here
Zara checked blazer, $159, SHOP NOW
Paris Georgia classic coat, $1250, from the Undone Store, SHOP NOW
Stine Goya ‘Eddy’ blouse, $179.50, from net-a-porter SHOP NOW
Regina Pyo ‘Larissa’ trouser, $690, from My Chameleon, SHOP NOW