Embellished Denim: So Over?
There’s an interesting article in this month’s Details magazine we laughed at and thought we’d share. Are embellished jeans, like, so 2007 and over? Or do you still rock your crystallized and embellished denim in 2008?
The torn knees, the bleached thighs, even the girlishly embroidered back pockets—those could have been predicted. But no one saw this coming: At the Country Music Awards a few years ago, the person in the most jaw-droppingly ornamented denim outfit—the country-western equivalent of Louis XIV’s brocaded finest—wasn’t Dolly Parton, it was Keith Urban. Granted, it was the Country Music Awards, where the red carpet isn’t exactly a parade of Jil Sander minimalism, but Urban’s clingy jeans, covered with doily-like embroidery, represented a tipping point.
The denim offensive, which began in the late nineties and, according to the 2006 book Jeans: A Cultural History of an American Icon, saw almost 800 brands on the market by 2004, seems to have broken down the barrier between men’s and women’s denim.
“Jeans were designed to be tough and rugged—the epitome of cool,” says Scott Morrison, the founder of Earnest Sewn. “They’re not supposed to emanate femininity.”
Urban’s dolled-up Wranglers were only the beginning of the bastardization. Criss Angel and Dave Navarro have since shown up for events wearing jeans more elaborately decorated than a third-grade girl’s jazz-recital costume. Kevin Federline and Justin Timberlake haven’t taken it that far, but they’ve flirted with the look, wearing jeans with appliqued back pockets and airbrush-style bleaching.
“It’s very L.A.,” says Simon Miller, who started a line of men’s jeans last year. “It’s also kind of Dallas. Big hair, big heels, outrageous jeans. It’s like when women try to outdo each other by wearing the most jewelry.”
The men who made jeans an American icon wouldn’t have been caught dead using denim fit for a Vegas showgirl to prove their potency. The laborers whom Levi’s made the prototypical pair for in 1873. James Dean, who wore his out on the seat of a motorcycle. The Marlboro Man, whose jeans’ only unnatural adornment was the worn spot from a pack of Reds. For guys like that, being a bad-ass wouldn’t have involved wearing jeans adorned with embroidered Gothic crosses—getting tattoos of them would have been enough.