The Old Oxford: Steven Alan and All That Jazz

I can’t really argue much with anything “Loosely inspired by the effortless style of post bop musicians,” and that’s probably why Steven Alan’s Fall 2013 collection was without a doubt one of the biggest highlights for me as I ran around from Fashion Week events, to meetings, then to coffee shops to write up whatever deadline I was up against. Between the overall presentation and the inspiration behind the collection, I couldn’t really stop thinking about it.


Jazz never seems to go out of style in terms of fashion. While you can look up any number of articles on the decline of popularity that the great American art form has experienced in the last few decades, jazz-influenced style for men seems to be one that is held up with Rat Pack tuxedoed swagger, and the Ivy prep look. The reason being is that jazz is literally the birth of (the) cool, and that sort of luster doesn’t just go away with changing musical tastes. Of course, things change. Hopefully a new generation of kids will discover Duke Ellington, but until that time, the look keeps popping in and out of the consciousness of the fashion world while the music awaits a revival.

The thing I liked most about Alan’s collection, is that he specifically referenced post bop, which is a term that isn’t really batted around much, and is a way of signifying the period that ushered in a generation of new styles of the music, including free jazz and avant-garde. I’ve never heard a designer reference post bop in their work (granted, it is a somewhat new term that wasn’t around during the period it references), but there definitely is a look that Alan has tapped into, adding modern flourishes like oversized blazers, and taking ties away from collars that are buttoned all the way up. What’s most significant to me, however, is the fact that with all the interest in late 1950s to mid-60s Ivy League dress that has been so popular as of late, a look that was also adapted by some of the greatest jazz musicians of the time, preceded the post bop period. The musicians associated with the term conjure up images of a looser, cooler style. I think less Brooks Brothers suits, more Eric Dolphy in this photo:

I don’t think it will get people to start buying jazz albums again, but Steven Alan has definitely done something interesting with the style of one particularly interesting period of the music.  Proving again that look of jazz never really goes out of style, and making me continue to hope that the music itself regains its once prominent status in America.

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