For FW14, Diesel’s creative director Nicola Formichetti drew on three core codes of the brand – denim, leather and military – to craft a formidable military-meets-music inspired collection. With so many facets and elements of military wear to choose from – utility pockets, leather accessories, metallic hardware, protective furs, camouflage prints – it’s iconic, statement outerwear and functional utilitarian details that champion the military trend for Formichetti. “I love military parkas with a big hood – and cargo pants with pockets.”
Military wear has remained a youth culture fashion staple due to generations of nonconforming young rebels appropriating it. Whether this is because army uniform is super-surplus and readily thriftable or that it achieves an ironic sense of subverting authority when worn out of its intended context, Diesel’s own fashion army reminds us that military wear is an exuberant statement for energetic individualism and youthful rebellion. “It still gives an energy to today’s young generations – it never goes out of style and always looks strong,” says Formichetti. Over the years, we’ve seen this energy adapted into stylish dress codes time and again. Here are a couple of music’s most iconic military-influenced scenes from the 90s – when army surplus reigned supreme and struck a chord for youthful ambition, social solidarity and defined the look of a generation.
Grunge. Teenage armies – born from hippies and raised on punk – this low budget, antimaterialist music scene and subsequent dress code was brought on by recession and grew up on a diet of thrift stores and army surplus outlets on the West Coast of America. The look was as uncoordinated and effortlessly charming as its champion Kurt Cobain, mixing and matching layers, appropriating outdated logos, reinterpreted components all held up with a slovenly posture and unkempt look. The grunge look, topped off with combat boots, ripped denim and unwashed flannel, was less a fashion choice and more utilitarian necessity meets cultural-malaise – perfectly performing the art of dressing down and turning the music all the way up at the same time.
Two decades since britpop poster boys, and that nostalgic dream of scruffy, skinny lead singers on the cover of music magazines never quite left the imagination. These dishevelled British boys, wrapped in tent-like military parkas, faces half-hidden in big furry hoods, blasé eyes behind tinted aviators, skinny legs in cargo pants kicking off in combat boots – this military influenced style haunts our utilitarian-soaked music festivals to this day. From Blur’s Alex James in his patched up shirts to Oasis’ Liam Gallagher wearing yet another iteration of that inevitable green parka – Britpop has shown the fashion world the value of dressing “normal” and how trying less is worth so much more.
Photography Felix Cooper; styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell; hair Jose Quijano; make-up Ninni Nummela at Streeters; models Lily Walker at M+P, Tom Wells at Storm; photographic assistant Bror Ivefeldt