Flashing Back to ’91

Independent on sunday 1991 (1) Independent on sunday 1991 (2)


‘Katharine Hamnett is a renegade…she has imagination, curiosity and passion. She does not want to spend an hour talking about clothes. She wants to talk about geopolitics, about the symptoms of decline in our civilisation.

“Clothes are such strong magic. Fashion is the cutting edge of a culture; it tells you so quickly and so succinctly where a culture is heading. At present, in an uncertain world, in a civilisation in decline, it is retrograde, nostalgic. As revival follows revival (and it’s not just in fashion; it’s in music, architecture, in nearly everything) it’s like a powerful beat which underlies the melody, which is anything new, and keeps on overwhelming it, drowning it out.”

Her own clothes are unrelentingly modern. When Hamnett borrows a cut, a shape or a proportion from the past, it is used to express something entirely of today. “Clothes give you the chance to be the person you have always wanted to be. And since we are living in the present, clothes should express the present, not some fictional past.”

“The origins of clothing are not practical. They are mystical and erotic. The primitive man in the wolf-pelt was not keeping dry; he was saying: ‘Look what I killed. Aren’t I the best?’ So clothes, to be sexy, do not have to be a crude display. I am much more interested in the mental approach, the clothes which contain cultural references which make the wearer sexually attractive, perhaps only to a minority who read them and identify with them.”

Katharine Hamnett, interviewed by Brenda Polan, for the Independent on Sunday, 10th March 1991.

 Shop Katharine Hamnett at: katharinehamnett.com


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