The geek-chic trend has reared its homely head more times than we can count. “The Nerd as Superhero,” “Suddenly, It’s Hip to Be Square,” “The Geeks Shall Inherit the Industry” — these are just some of the headlines that have popped up throughout the years. But let’s face it: The geek as fashion template is here to stay. No more revolving doors.
Indeed, the brainy bespectacled misfit has been a much-loved, if perhaps unwitting, style figure for ages. Long before Sarah Jessica Parker became the poster girl for the glam life (or at least its celluloid parody) as Carrie Bradshaw, she played a dweeb. A frumpy, socially awkward high school dweeb in glasses. The year was 1982 and the show, the rather aptly named “Square Pegs,” was on CBS. Despite only being on the air for a season, it paved the way for series such as “My So-Called Life” and “Freaks and Geeks.” Uniting the uncool kids far and wide now: America Ferrera’s brace-faced Betty Suarez.
Nowadays, there’s no denying the popularity of the unpopulars. The evidence is everywhere, from movies such as “Napoleon Dynamite” to the nation’s crush on Tina Fey of “30 Rock.” Even hip-hop’s Kanye West isn’t afraid to rock out in a pair of lab-worthy opticals. On the designer front, there’s a laundry list of geek-chic cases in point: Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, Alber Elbaz, Giles Deacon, to name a few. Before Marc Jacobs turned bronzed beefcake material, he was a cardcarrying member of the nerdy set. And Luella Bartley once closed a show with a model bearing a “Geek!” slogan T-shirt.
“I think that look is synonymous with creativity, that intellectual edge,” says Cynthia Rowley. “It’s that image of being a little bit of an outsider.” For Canadian Jeremy Laing, the look can often be traced back to adolescence. “It was never on purpose, initially,” he says. “You think you can’t wait to grow out of being a geek, but then at some point you realize that maybe it’s a cool thing. There’s also something strangely eternally youthful about the style.”
Central to the look is eyewear. Frames, after all, made all the difference between Superman and the dorky Clark Kent. And they make all the difference to Yvonne Force Villareal. “The rest of me is not very geeky looking, with the blonde hair and high heels, so when I put my glasses on, it’s a good combination,” says Villareal, who wears oversize black-rim opticals by Rowley. “It’s Gloria Steinem meets Brigitte Bardot.” The Art Production Fund president admits to having painted over the designer logo, with black nail polish, on a previous pair. “[The logo] made it look too fashiony, and I really did want more of that geek,” she says. “There’s a certain allure to wearing glasses, the histrionics of it,” notes Benjamin Cho. “The idea that putting on glasses takes you to a very studious, concentrated place.”
As for watershed moments in the nerdy culture, look no further than the Nineties. “There was the dawning of the Internet and computers,” says one-half of the geektastic DJ-performance art duo Andrew Andrew. (The two are called Andrew and don’t go by last names.) Key here, they say, was the introduction of Windows 95. The runway set, however, will remember the period for a very different reason: Miuccia Prada, who elevated the brainy, pocket-protector ethos to high-fashion status and made conservative the new sexy.
For Rowley, however, the quintessential version is only a Stateside one. “To me, true geek chic is an American thing,” she says. “Even if you’re talking about the British, that has more of an edge to it. The French, they make it seem cooler.” She pauses, then adds, “But then maybe I really am a geek. I think everybody else is way cooler than me.”
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews