Caroline Baker: Pioneering Inventor of Street Style


In many ways, stylist Caroline Baker had a typical childhood in post-war England. The daughter of a World War I veteran, she lives in a house manicured with rose bushes, BBC radio from the radio across the lawn. However, the house is located in the foothills of the Andes in Argentina, where her English parents had moved after the war to escape the recession and start a vineyard. It’s hard not to read about the beginnings of upbringing that would later make her a stellar stylist – finding joy in putting something traditional in an unexpected setting.

After completing an English boarding school in Buenos Aires, she was sent back to her homeland. “I came to London with my hair pulled back into a honeycomb, black eyeliner, a round skirt with a bubbling mesh petticoat that protrudes beautifully, my feet tucked into high heels, only to discover that it was. was ‘outlined’,” she recalls in a new book. Rebel Stylist: Caroline Baker, The Woman Who Invented the Street Fashion, published by ACC Art Books. Although obsessed with clothes, she had no concept of fashion or art school and trained to be a secretary. Join the fashion magazine Nova As an assistant in 1967, she was quickly promoted to fashion editor largely due to her own personal style.

“Never done a fashion story before, I was stuck in a dead end,” she wrote. “The editor insists our fashion pages must be different from all other women’s fashion magazines. Nova was a new style experience for “liberated” women, so I set out to explore alternative sources for clothing. Military leftovers, leg warmers and tights from ballet shops, waiters and chefs clothes, menswear (especially second-hand) and even hospital gowns has become the material for my fashion pages. It was in Nova that I have developed what is called street style. “

Terence Donovan’s photo for Nova, September 1972

(Terence Donovan)

Sam Brown’s photo for iD, November 1985

(Sam Brown)

Photo by Hans Feurer for Nova, November 1974

(Hans Feurer)

It will be two more decades before designer was awarded and credited with the photographer for magazine shoots. However, from the very beginning, Baker pioneered a style concept that encouraged individual expression and creativity; She understands, “fashion depends more on how an outfit is put together than on the clothes themselves,” and that the street can be just as inspiring as the catwalk. Her work highlights the important role a stylist plays in the fashion industry by bridging the gap between designer and consumer.

Even the concept of clothing became porous in her hands; she just wrapped models in blankets, used ropes as belts or used scissors to cut and cut expensive designer clothes. One of her editorials can read: “Quant Smarists’ socks, 79p, no toes,” or as she wrote in a 1987 story in I: “Giant safety pins, industrial clamps, darts raw and ready from the inside out… tie everything up with ribbons or elastic bands.”

While approaching fashion with a child’s instinctive joy in a clothes box, it’s proof to her keen eye that her looks always work. Today, her influence is especially strong, in the eclectic, personalized style of pop stars such as Harry Styles and FKA Twigs.

Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik What she’s doing is the beginning of street style. Caroline was a famous force in the fashion industry when I started my career. I was completely mesmerized by the look she created. ”

Photo by Hans Feurer for Vogue, October 1976

(Hans Feurer)

Photo by Eddy Kohli for Tatler, June 1984

(Eddy Kohli)

Photo by Harri Peccinotti for Vogue, July 1976

(Harri Peccinotti)

Nova folded in 1975 and punk boomed shortly after. It was a tumultuous time for Baker and she experienced unemployment and homelessness. “The mid 70s was when I suddenly decided I didn’t want to be this sex symbol anymore,” she wrote. I don’t want to be this pretty girl, this men’s toy and I discovered menswear… I’m getting huge, used men’s suits, so My mantra is, ‘It doesn’t have to fit because I’ll make it fit’. I made it fit by tying a belt around the waist to hold the trousers up, which started the whole look that people call ‘paper bag trousers’. “

In the late 1970s, Baker began collaborating with Vivienne Westwood, who was then working on the groundbreaking Pirate Collection. Westwood, in Rebel Stylist, speak:”[Baker had] just got back from Seychelles for a shoot – tan and freckled with a brown pencil line across her nose from ear to ear. Light brown hair curled in a soft 40s style. So beautiful, wearing a men’s gabardine buttoned navy blue.

“The next day, she came to see me, she was dressed like a pretty girl with her hair parted in the middle, looked painted, and exaggerated red lips – instantly. Striped shirt, white jacket, trousers. She started styling my clothes… She really enjoys styling everything by tying things up, turtleneck sweaters, bow ties. She likes to wear things that are half-closed, half-open. She loves our falling stockings.”

Photo by Hans Feurer for Nova, September 1971

(Hans Feurer)

Photo by Robert Erdmann for The Face, February 1985

(Robert Erdmann)

(Ku Khanh)

Photo by Harri Peccinotti for Vogue, August 1976

(Harri Peccinotti)

Baker will continue as an employee and freelance stylist, working for I, Face, around the world and Sunday Times Magazine – she was deemed too anarchic for commercial minded Britons Vogue – and create successful advertising campaigns for Benetton. “I continue to challenge perceptions of what women can wear, regardless of age, and accept ideas about feminism, multiculturalism, and identity politics,” she wrote. “My vision is always open and I am always receptive to new information. I think people are very original. I enjoyed the street, going out and traveling by Metro. ”

Creative director Yvonne Gold wrote: “Her style is out of fashion. Caroline is acutely aware of fervor: politics, power, peace, and prejudice. She upholds sexual and social justice. She brought a new style of dress personality, casual, comfortable, relaxed, unique in sexy confidence, unnecessary, unnecessary, I-don’t-need-you. ”

Rebel Stylist: Caroline Baker, The Woman Who Invented Street Fashion is now available from ACC Art Books

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/photography/caroline-baker-stylist-street-style-photos-b1932651.html Caroline Baker: Pioneering Inventor of Street Style

Emma Bowman

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