Pinging into my email this morning was news that River Island are re-launching the iconic Chelsea Girl label. For those of you who think Chelsea Girl is an over-enthusiastic supporter with a penchant for wearing footy strips, think again.
Chelsea Girl ran from 1965 and is what eventually morphed into River Island in the 80s. Before that is was the cutting edge chain boutique (the first of its kind as it goes) for girls who couldn’t afford Biba and Mary Quant but could afford to look cool and very stylish, and desperately wanted to.
The High Street is now awash with stores offering us fashion led pieces made in probably dreadful conditions so that they are affordable to even our high school students. Oh how I look on them with envy. Young teens now need never go through that gawky transitional stage of fashion no-mans land as they wait for their body to grow into fashionable clothes (or like me, grow super early and then struggle to ever be allowed to wear the clothes I want, and so end up looking like a weird woman in under-sized kids clothes). When Chelsea Girl opened however, this was not the case.
I don’t personally recall Chelsea Girl other than seeing items my older sisters had, donning the rather cool label. I know, and could see even when I was wee, that Chelsea Girl offered the girl who was now buying her own clothes, a step into the world of clothing independence. My sisters had Chelsea girl, while I was given C&A.
Having said that, I have to admit, if I got something from C&A I did indeed feel cool and on the ball. It was infinitely better than the usual alternative, which was to get clothes from the market or one of the dodgy cut-price clothing stalls that surrounded it. As a young girl, C&A was the dogs. By the time I was old enough to pine for something more edgy, I had developed a taste for all things charity shop. And my fashion story developed from there.
I still have a fair few Clockhouse pieces that I have happily bought from charity shops over the years. Despite them, being at the time, the less cool sister (quite fitting really) than Chelsea Girl, they still offer up that ace and trashy 80s aesthetic that I still love to this day. I unfortunately haven’t any Chelsea Girl items.
I have scanned through the collection brought out for the re-launch on River Island’s website. They claim that certain Chelsea Girl classics have been given “a design update to form a vintage-inspired collection just for you”. That’s nice of them hey? The designs they have updated seem to be drawn from the 70s Chelsea Girl. Seeing as though this particularly flarey and Cadbury’s flake of decades is currently being revived again, it does just look as though River Island have brought together all their hippie pieces and given them a new heading for the sake of a bit of extra promotion.
Currently I am not getting a vintage-inspired vibe from this collection. When you get a cool piece from the charity shop, vintage shop or fair that is truly at least a couple of decades old, it really does stand out and have a key edgyness for its essential difference. That is what I love about not just buying from the High Street. These new Chelsea Girl pieces however, look like River Island simply doing what they usually do. I would have liked to have seen pieces that are more specifically from the era, or in materials that really do hark back to that time. I would have also liked to have seen some 80s Chelsea Girl as that is the decade I like the best. They may well move into that era once fashion decides to once again wear its Boy George hat. Until then, it is all 70s, and actually all very normal. Back to the charity shops I go.
Today I listened to: Loads of Bjork shuffled together
Today I read: Several more poems from Book of Blood by Vicki Feaver
Today I watched: Come Dine With Me
I have so many earrings i’ve no wehere to put them that doesn’t include hiding them away which makes them really depressed and occasionally quite violent and aggressive (I have in the past found them in a right tangled mess and I have had to split them up). So anyway I hang them on my curtains. Two birds and all that (although I only have one pair of parrot earrings, but I do have several butterflies, and a babycham deer)
© Anne Louise Kershaw