After Punk’s initial and colourful display of union jacks, day glo socks, plastic sunglasses, jelly beans and bright tartans, things soon took a much darker turn. Within a couple of years, and like a pack of little punk rock Queen Victorias or Henry Fords, we started wearing any colour we liked…as long as it was black.
Black became the colour of choice; black drainpipe jeans, black band t-shirts, black boots, black leather, black hair, black eyeliner, black everything.
To our parents generation it was the colour of funerals, fire grates and dinner-wear, and was not generally seen as the colour of joy and recreation. Punk re-cast black into a must-have, and we were soon busy, indelibly staining the insides of our parent’s washing machines and buckets, with Dylon home dye.
Unleashing the power of black was punk’s sartorial flirt with death, or at least the colour of it, and because black was an anti-colour, and because we were part of the anti-everything gang, it fitted the post-punk credentials perfectly.
Black was another taboo to be broken. According to popular magazines, teenage girls were supposed to be wrapped in florals or at the very least floating around in pretty pastel shades, and some girls still were, but there was also a sizeable battalion of teenage girls dressed head to foot in black. Artists like Siouxsie Sioux and The Stranglers apparently couldn’t get enough of black either, and were to be seen swathed in shades ranging from coal, to tarmac to wing of bat, on their record sleeves and in music paper photo shoots.
So why all the black then? It seemed like an anti-colour for anti-heroes. Leather jackets and Dr Martens were already black, and black jeans became like the redacted version of the bleached out well-worn denim of the hippie generation. Our post-punk world was black and white; xeroxed fanzines, gig flyers as well as most of the early independent record sleeves and even the music papers were black and white. Black was dangerous and cool….and so, we hoped, were we.