Vintage Fashion Clothing Blog | Beyond Retro

  • Secret Cinema: What could it be?!

    This February marks the return of Secret Cinema - the UK’s number one immersive movie experience. As the name suggests, the film on show is always a tightly guarded secret, but event organisers have started to release subtle clues as to what their next screening will be. With only a fortnight to go, we have been left to figure out for ourselves the potential outfits that we should be looking to gather in preparation. There has been much speculation about what the film could be, with common theories pointing towards something set in the 60s, spy themed, and perhaps about the cold war. This has led some to draw the conclusion that it could be Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. This does seem plausible, as Secret Cinema are also doing a twin screening in Moscow. Nevertheless, here at Beyond Retro, we have put our heads together to come up with our own theories. And of course, we’ve suggested some suitable attire to make sure that you turn up to the screening looking top notch.

    What will it be? An official promo for Secret Cinema What could it be?! An official promo for Secret Cinema

    Our first of three theories is Sidney J.Furie’s The Ipcress File. Released in 1965, the film is based on Len Deighton’s popular novel of the same name. The Ipcress File is a classic piece of British Spy cinema. Michael Cain stars as Harry Palmer, an ex-British Army Sergeant with a criminal past who has been hired by the MOD to investigate the disappearance of several important British scientists. Basically, this is the thinking man’s James Bond, and it certainly has the spy/code elements Secret Cinema have alluded to. However, it does lack direct nods to the Soviet and Cold war clues, although most spy films made during this time were certainly influenced by the undercover goings on of the CIA and MI5 during that period.

    The next option is another film of British origin. Nineteen Eighty-Four was directed by Michael Radford and is based on the iconic George Orwell novel of the same name. Suitably released in 1984, the film’s main protagonist is played by John Hurt (currently in The Last Panthers), and most famously features Richard Burton for his last ever onscreen performance before his death. This film would be a bit of a curveball choice for Secret Cinema. It’s an outside bet as the 1960’s link is thrown out the window as Nineteen Eighty Four is set in a dystopian future. Saying that, it does allude to many of Secret Cinemas other clues, including the images on their ticket page that seem to hint at a surveillance culture and the idea of ‘Big Brother’ watching over everyone. Orwell took a lot of cues from life in the Soviet Union as inspiration for the novel, so there are Russian links too. These themes would have interesting parallels with the issues that we face on a day to day basis, and there would some interesting things they could do with the settings. Personally, we’d love to see secret cinema create their own Room 101, but this is perhaps unlikely as it could be a little bit dark for most people.

    By far our favorite theory is that it will be Jean- Luc Godard’s 1965 sci -fi ode to Film Noir, Alphaville. It certainly ticks a lot of boxes, and on top of that it stars the timeless cool of Anna Karina who is by far one of our top ten all-time favourite actresses. The film centres around secret agent Lemmy Caution (Code number 003). His aim is to destroy the dictator computer Alpha 60 who has outlawed free thinking and individuality, creating a robot like society. Alphaville fits quite nicely with a lot of secret cinemas clues, its 60s based, it involves spies and code names, it has themes of re-claiming liberty as well as free thinking and the film is an obvious commentary by Godard on the Cold War and Soviet Russia. Alphaville is set in a moody sci-fi urban future, and this would make for a great backdrop to any event. What makes Alphaville most appealing is the great potential for outfits to watch the film in. Anna Karina struts gracefully in sleek 60s lace trimmed dresses, cardigans and her piece de resistance, the white fur trimmed jacket . Agent Lemmy Caution keeps it strictly ‘film noir’ in staple trench and trilby which is the go to outfit for all the agents in the film. To be honest, the trench look would seem just as slick concealing an oyster card as it would an automatic pistol, and if you walk around dressed like Anna Karina you’re bound to put any wannabe Daniel Craig to the sword.

    Here's our rundown of the essential looks for each film...

    1) The Ipcress File

    Michael Cane and Sue Lloyd in the 1965 classic The Ipcress File Michael Cane and Sue Lloyd in the 1965 classic The Ipcress File

    Male theatre-goers can channel Michael Cane in a sleek trench coat whereas women can go back to the 60s in pill box hats, turtle necks and bright pieces.

    2) Nineteen Eighty-Four

    Suzanna Hamilton and John Hurt star in the film adaptation of Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 Suzanna Hamilton and John Hurt star in the film adaptation of Orwell's dystopian novel 1984

    If you're money is on 1984, then work wear shirts are essential

    3) Alphaville

    Eddie Constantine and Ana Karina star in Jean- Luc Godard’s 1965 sci -fi film Alphaville. Eddie Constantine and Ana Karina star in Jean- Luc Godard’s 1965 sci -fi film Alphaville.

    For Alphaville,
    channel Lemmy Caution in a trench coat and trilby or Natacha von Braun in iconic 60s garms.

    For more updates on Secret Cinema, follow them at @secretcinema or visit for tickets and further details.

    Words: Kevin Soar
  • Burns Night: Time for Tartan!

    Tonight people will be gathering throughout Scotland and across the UK to eat some haggis and raise a glass to one of the most celebrated poets of all time. Burns Night makes us reflect on all the great things that Scotland has brought to the world. In an endless and diverse list that includes Sean Connery, Annie Lennox and deep fried mars bars, but also extends to Irn-Bru, Hogwarts and the telephone, it is almost impossible to pick a favourite. Still, at Beyond Retro, fashion is our one true calling, and we feel that without tartan the world simply wouldn’t be as fun.

    Tartan is almost as old as Scotland itself, and comes in every colour combination that you can possibly imagine. It’s popularity is partly down to the fact that it can be worn in so many different ways. You can clash it or match it and still look fab. Whether you want to be traditional, go for grunge or rock a McQueen-inspired high fashion look, tartan is the only fabric you need. A celebrity must-have, tartan outfits make up some of the most iconic fashion moments of recent times.

    Here are some of the best tartan looks...

    1) The Original Tartan Dreamteam: Clueless

    Clueless Vintage 90s Tartan

    2) Tartan on the Red Carpet: Alexander McQueen & Sarah Jessica Parker

    Alexander McQueen and Sarah Jessica Parker

    3) 90s Tartan Chic: Naomi Campbell

    Naomi Campbell Kate Moss 90s Tartan

    4) And finally... The Classic Take on Tartan: Lady Di

    Lady Diana Tartan

    Happy Burns Night everyone!

    Words: Louis Staples

  • The King & Queen of Grunge

    Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and James Dean. What do these three people have in common? As well as being good looking, successful and talented, they are part of an exclusive clique whose cultural impact has extended far beyond their own celebrity. Only a few times in every generation will a person truly earn the title of ‘Style Icon’. Style is difficult to define, but when someone has it, you just know.

    There is no better example of this than Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. During the early 90’s, these two hell-raisers were not only breaking boundaries in music, but also setting the fashion world alight with their unconventional brand of F-you style. Although they had distinctly different looks, Kurt and Courtney both built their fashion following by rejecting the status quo.

    In an era where most celebrities appeared pristine and put together, Kurt Cobain countered the glitzy aesthetic of the 80’s in every possible way. In scruffy jeans and floral dresses, he presented a softer and more approachable version of the classic rock rebel. This new style of androgyny was a welcome change from the hyper-masculine rock stars that people were used to idolising. Cobain’s grunge style became one of the signature looks of the 1990’s, and almost 20 years later, his impact as a style icon is clear to see.

    Let’s take a look back at some of his most influential looks…

    Kurt Cobain Vintage Jumper 90s Kurt Cobain, 1994. Photograph by Youri Lenquette

    This picture was one of the last taken of Cobain before his suicide. With this tattered jumper, Cobain gives us one of the most enduring examples of grunge style. Similarly to hippie and punk, the essence of grunge is a rejection of the establishment. Sticking two fingers up to conventional ideas of style, clothes were often unbranded, ill-fitting, and, in this case, falling apart completely. Fast forward 20 years, and a baggy shirt and jeans has become the off-duty uniform for models such as Cara Delevingne.

    Kurt Cobain floral dress Kurt Cobain wears a floral dress on the cover of The Face Magazine, September 1993. Shot by David Sims

    Cobain sent shockwaves through the world of fashion when he appeared on the cover of the September 1993 issue of The Face. Photographed by David Sims, he is pictured with messy hair, smudged eyeliner and chipped red nail polish. On anyone else this seems like a recipe for disaster, but Cobain still manages to look cool a floral dress that looks as though it was stolen from your nan’s closet. This amalgamation of masculinity and femininity defied the traditional gender norms that were represented by most celebrities of the time, and set the ball in motion for a new form of androgyny that ran through the 90’s and beyond.

    Cobain during the taping of MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City, 11/18/93. Photo by Frank Micelotta Cobain during the taping of MTV Unplugged at Sony Studios in New York City, 11/18/93. Photo by Frank Micelotta

    Although it may not seem like anything special now, this fuzzy green cardigan - worn in a November 1993 appearance on MTV Unplugged- is one of Cobain’s most iconic items of clothing. Epitomising his relaxed attitude to fashion, the cardigan recently sold for $137,000 at auction.

    As the godmother of grunge, Courtney Love has also created an impressive fashion legacy. Although Love was more of a polarising figure than Cobain, it is impossible to deny her impact on culture and style. Like Cobain, Love redefined people’s ideas of masculinity and femininity with her androgynous looks. Rebelling against the impossible expectation for women in the public eye to be flawless, Love was the ultimate anti-pop princess. With black on black, shredded couture dresses and plenty of red lipstick, this shockingly defiant version of ‘who gives a damn?’ style inspired a generation.

    Let’s take a look back at some of Courtney’s most iconic style moments…

    Courtney Love at the 1990 Golden Globe Awards Courtney Love at the 1990 Golden Globe Awards

    Worn at the 1990 Golden Globes, this outfit perfectly exemplifies Love’s attitude to fashion. If she had go to an award show in a fancy dress, she was going to do it showing more skin than most are comfortable with. Messy hair and her signature red lip complete this laid-back red carpet look.

    Love wears a babydoll dress during a performance in the mid-90's Love wears a babydoll dress during a performance in the mid-90's

    On stage, Love contrasted opposing extremes. Here, we have a crème silk babydoll dress that you would expect to see on a Sunday school teacher, perhaps accessorised with a pink hair ribbon and or a pretty brooch shaped like a butterfly. On Love, this cute dress collides with messy hair, smudged eyeliner, scuffed knees and an electric guitar.

    If you fancy re-creating any of these iconic looks, then shop Kurt and Courtney’s grunge style.

    Words: Louis Staples

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