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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Purposely Rude

Good afternoon everyone!

Here I am after a long and eventful month during which my life in London has been slowly settling down into something similar to a routine, despite me feeling like every day is bringing something absolutely new, and taking some very unexpected turns at the same time.

Today, after a long week of work and thinking, I've finally found some time to sit down in front of my beloved blog and share with you something that, as many other things I've done since I've been here, got to me absolutely randomly but ended up making me feel so glad it did.
In fact, while at work a few days ago I was having a quick chat with Rachel, one of my colleagues, she  was telling me about her week end of between exhibitions and dinner in nice restaurants, she recommended me to go have a look at what's going on at Somerset house: the photographic exhibition called The Return of the Rude boy.

Despite having no idea of what the term rude boy was supposed to identify, I immediately felt interested about it and I decided I really should have gone check that out.
I didn't even look it up on the Internet to get to know more about it, I just headed to Somerset house on a very sunny and very warm morning not knowing what I was going to have in front of me.
I must say, I'm very happy I decided to do so.

Before to tell you a bit more about the exhibition, I'd like to ask you a question: 
what is rude?
According to common sense, being rude is probably the opposite of polite, on this we all agree.
But what about rude as a movement? As a community? As a style?

The Rude Boys subculture was born in Jamaica in the early 60s and it used to identify these young generations of kids who didn't have a job, couldn't find one,  couldn't see any promising future for themselves and battled against the government by dancing ska music and, of course, being purposely…rude.
They were almost the outsiders, the rejected ones of their society and their generation as they also used to get caught in criminal activities such as drug dealing and violent acts between the various gangs.
But while pursuing their rebellion, which in some cases ended up making them UK musical icons, they didn't realise that they were actually generating something parallel to their cultural and philosophical movement: a whole new style.

It seems pretty weird thinking of their origin but as Yves Saint Laurent used to say: "The best outfits often come from the poor and disadvantaged", and in this case being poor and disadvantaged was just a part of the creative process that brought to the rude boy.
In fact, the other most significant influence they had into their choice of clothing items was the so called gangster style, copied and pasted from the patinated and refined figure of the American gangster who made elements such as the three-buttons jacket, the pork pie hat and super shiny leather shoes its bread and butter. 

Which brings us to the great paradox that is the rude boy: extremely poor and rebel, but also extremely refined. 
Probably because of their alternative origin, the rude boys didn't lack the courage to take unexpected turns playing with their accessories and bringing them to the extreme, shaping up incredibly creative outfits that are classical but also innovative, detailed but in a way that becomes almost obsessive and even tough they could be very cheap in fact, always very expensive looking. 

That's how rudeness becomes the new slickness, and being rude is not anymore about a behaviour but about the stylistic choices of a subculture that heading to the UK and getting mashed up with mod cultures and rocksteady is to be historically identified as nothing but one of the ancestors of the skinhead culture.

That's the story how one of the most significant and iconic stylistic cultures made in UK took influences from Jamaica and its underground environment.
I'm not entirely sure if a Rude Boy could ever be polite, but in truth it's pretty hard for these devoted to sleek tailoring, menswear and sharp cuts not to look a bit intimidating.
I must say, that's what I loved the most about this style and that's one of the elements I cherish of menswear being worn by women (or in this particular case, rude girls) in general: the sense of sharpness, toughness and self-confidence that comes from wearing a male outfit and pull it off, but also from being perfectly sharp and refined but also bold with colours, details, ornaments.

Rude Boy is the kind of style that requires to be embraced for a long time before to become evident and effective. 
It needs to be developed, collected, thought, put together, day by day.
These outfits feature pieces coming from all around the world, fabrics that might not even exist, jewels that might have been stolen, ideas that might have been put together as the result of a creative process where the art piece is the outfit itself.

In other words, Rude Boy becomes a life choice where every aspect of it influences the others and everything ends up being connected and absolutely coherent.
Extremely fascinating for many current young generations of Brits, but not only, becoming a real rudy might still requires overcoming a couple of challenges which would inevitably lead to embracing a community whose history and declinations make it one of the most significant fashion movements of the past century.

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