The creation of a classic
“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans,” Yves Saint Laurent
It is almost two hundred years since the French weavers of Nîmes first created a sturdy twill fabric from white weft and indigo warp threads. This ‘Serge de Nîmes’ has progressed from being the cheap and hardwearing fabric of choice for American cowboys, farmers and miners to becoming the most popular fabric in the world.
The sign of the rebel
If you try to imagine a time when the wearing of jeans could provoke a reaction of shock or disapproval, just think of those cinema icons James Dean or Marlon Brando, astride a motorbike with a cigarette dangling from their pouting lips, always clad in skin-tight dark rinsed denim.
The wearing of denim was often seen as a sign of protest against the formality of the establishment, worn in the ‘50s and ‘60s by anti-Vietnam war protesters and in the ‘70s and ‘80s by pro-feminists. Nightclubs and many workplaces banned denim.
Even now, it does sometimes seem out of place when a senior politician appears in public looking rather self-conscious in a nice clean pair of jeans.
Time to be happy
The introduction of a ‘weekend off work’ in the middle of the last century created a desire for clothing that was comfortable and capable of both feeling and looking individual. Influenced by American film idols, people wanted to move on from the constraints of wartime and adopt a happier lifestyle.
One amazing quality of denim is its ability to mould to the wearer’s body and adapt to their personality.
The early days of ‘shrink to fit’ denim saw many a wearer lying in a bath of indigo stained water wearing their brand-new jeans to allow the fabric to mould to their body for that skin-tight look. Happily, modern denim fabrics are both pre-shrunk and more colour fast, although it would still not be wise to wash new denim with white underwear!
Faded, patched, embroidered, bell-bottomed or cut-off for the summer, wearers have always become attached to their denims, and for many people, the wearing of denim is a sign of times to enjoy and be happy.
From counterculture to catwalk
Denim has travelled far from those modest and hardwearing working overalls and trousers of the 1800s and the rebels and protestors of post-war ‘50s.
In the 1970s, high fashion houses first sent denim onto the catwalk. Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Guess, Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior models have established this incredibly timeless fabric as a seriously seductive item.
Denim, gingham and ditsy prints – a delightful combination
Think of the most iconic female actors of the 1960s and consider how often they would be seen on screen wearing the delightful combination of denim with tiny floral prints or checked gingham. Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe both demonstrated the everlasting appeal of fresh cool cotton and tough heavy-duty denim. This retro appeal remains, but thanks to constant improvements to ethical and ecologically sound manufacturing methods, these timeless favourites are even better than ever.
At My Fabric Place, you will find a fantastic selection of delightfully ditsy floral prints, gorgeous gingham and a whole range of denim in a variety of colours, weight and handle, including denim with a touch of Spandex, perfect for all types of garments and upholstery.
The fabric that inspired the songs of your youth
Has any other fabric been the inspiration of popular music? There may not be many Crimplene songs, but there certainly are more than a few about denim.
To name a few…..
- Jeans On David Dundas
- Forever in Blue Jeans Neil Diamond
- Blue Denim Stevie Nicks
- Taper Jean Girl Kings of Leon
- Blue Jeans Lana Del Rey
Not forgetting …..
- The Hippy Hippy Shake from The Swinging Blue Jeans!
There must be more - do please email us with your suggestions of
Fabric Inspired Songs!
Happy sewing from the team at My Fabric Place.