Lately it seems like the Union jack has been popping up a lot these days. If it’s not on the runway or in the store, it seems like everyone wants a taste of England. Why? Because Britain is everywhere. Whether it’s One Direction, Adele, the never ending fairy-tale of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, Downton Abbey, or new “It girl” model Care Delevinge, British culture is very intriguing. The Union Jack is perhaps the greatest symbol of England and wearing it is a timeless tradition that has been past down from generation to generation. In America the Union Jack has always been a symbol of coolness. But what does it mean for a Brit to wear one?
When the cultural revolution of the 1960’s happened in England, mod culture exploded. Every one was wearing mini skirts and shift dresses designed mod innovator, Mary Quant, who transformed fashion forever. London was known as Swinging London and the biggest icon of this was model Twiggy. With her waifish figure and pixie haircut, she modeled some of the greatest union jack attire and was forever considered a symbol to British style. With change in the air and an internationally recognized culture, England was in good spirits and wanted to share that spirit with its colors.
By the 1970’s British patriotism was at a low. With the rising conservative Party, economic and social troubles, London was on the verge of one biggest moments in cultural history. The punk movement was born as a response to the madness that was taking place in England and was rapidly growing by the mid 1970’s. Punk fashion sought not promote British Pride, but instead mock it by having bands like the Sex Pistols sing their antithetical, classic, “God Save the Queen”, while wearing a beaten up union jack a tee shirt.
Kate Moss in John Galliano in 1993
England in the 1990’s was all about Cool Britannia. After over a decade of stanch conservatism, England was now being lead by the “New Labour” party leader Tony Blair, which brought a new feeling within the country. In addition to Britain’s political scene changing, their music and fashion scene also flourished. With bands like Oasis and The Spice Girls, and designers like Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, England repeated its “Swinging London” era and became a cultural mecca of what is cool and popular in the world.
The greatest example of Union Jack fashion goes to Geri Halliwell when she wore her famous “Union Jack Dress” to the 1997 Brit awards. The dress caused a sensation and was plastered on every British paper the next day. Originally the dress was a plain black Gucci dress which she thought was “boring”. Halliwell said she wanted to wear something that would, “celebrate being British”, and asked her sister to sew on a tea towel on the front which she wore to the awards show. To this day this dress is considered to be one of the most iconic dresses of all time in England, was sold at auction, and holds the world record for most expensive piece of popstar clothing dealt at auction.