Saturday 31 October 2015

Fresh Dressed - Review


Directed by Sacha Jenkins

The inimitable and intertwined relationship between fashion and hip hop is explored in Fresh Dressed, the fascinating new documentary from Sacha Jenkins.

Hip-hop fashion began on the streets of New York and its journey continued from there. Fresh Dressed uses insights from some of the biggest figures in the field including Kanye West, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Swizz Beatz, Damon Dash, Pusha T, Nas and former Vogue editor-at-large AndrĂ© Leon Talley to narrate the story of how and why street fashion became so prevalent in today’s culture. 

It is this evolution of hip-hop and urban fashion that is conveyed to great success.

The film is packed with nuggets of information – such as how the origins of customisation began within New York gang warfare – and interviews with heavy hitting tastemakers – such as Dapper Dan, who spent eight years designing cutting-edge pieces based on high fashion, that were worn by global superstars such as LL Cool J.

Fresh Dressed also explores a multitude of themes including race, class and identity, drawing out exactly why this genre of fashion evolved in the way it did. The social environment in which it thrived played a phenomenal role in its development and relationships between and within the urban community and commercial world had a huge impact too.

While the list of celebrities interviewed for the documentary is impressive, the most memorable conversations are with the individuals who have played a more active role, to lesser fame, in growing the movement. Their first-hand accounts of what they were seeing occur around them, and how they responded accordingly, adds some astute insight into the project.

Visually, Fresh Dressed is a delight to watch. Brightly coloured pieces, and clever illustrations that bring elements of the story to life, make it aesthetically pleasing.

Sonically, and not unexpectedly, the soundtrack is packed with some of hip-hop’s finest masterpieces, complementing the segment of the tale being told.

Through drawing upon different elements of African American culture, the New York that gave birth to hip hop and by speaking to individuals heavily involved in the movement, it finds its answer. 

Ultimately, Fresh Dressed seeks to explore what it means to be ‘fresh.’ It really is a must-see for anyone even mildly interested in fashion, music or even, more broadly, popular culture. It makes an understanding of the urban culture – which is embedded into the fabric of today’s society – accessible to the world.

Guest Reviewer: Bhakti Gajjar

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