Film / Style Lessons / Fashion

The enduring fashion influence of David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’

Plaid, chunky knits and surrealism...

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s dreamlike series debuted back in 1991, as Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) began an FBI investigation into the death of beloved homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in a remote north-western logging town. It immediately entered the cultural lexicon, beguiling viewers with its bizarre but beautiful rendering of mysterious occurrences in a mountain setting. Twin Peaks’ phalanx of loyal admirers includes Quentin Tarantino, Tavi Gevinson, and series composer Angelo Badalamenti even claims that the Queen is a fan.

The immaculate styling of the series is part of its lasting appeal, and has inspired and delighted designers since it first aired. Twin Peaks consistently pays tribute to the kaleidoscopic stylings of its North American setting. Its costumery offers a waltz through the greatest fashion hits of every period of the previous century, ranging from Sheriff Truman’s cowboy hat to Agent Cooper’s film noir trench coat and James Hurley’s motorcycle jacket. Here are some of the ways Twin Peaks’ influence has manifested itself on the runway and beyond.

Manish Arora’s AW16 history of UsA Style

Manish Arora’s AW16 collection took direction from this cavalcade of influences, with rodeo, prairie and pioneer themes constructed in lurid neoprene and embroidered denim – described by the designer himself as ‘Twin Peaks on Haribo’. Sickly pastels rub up against flamboyant prints, with a surreal mixture of rockabilly, cowboy and 1950s housewife themes that evoke Lynch’s madcap stylistic dash through the dark heart of Americana.

Pacific Northwest Plaid Goes Grunge

The Pacific Northwest of Twin Peaks, with its misty pine forests and thundering waterfalls, is a land where the chunky patterned cardigan is king. And the plaid – my God, the plaid. Twin Peaks helped to set the fashion mood of the 1990s, and its influence endures in grunge-inspired Tumblr and Pinterest boards across the internet. The Japanese brand Black Weirdos playfully skewered the archetypal Western feel of the series with their AW14 hippy knits and outdoorsy fabrics, wearing their pop-cultural influence on their sleeve with t-shirt slogans like ‘Killer Bob’ and ‘Fire Walk With Me’.

KEnzo explores dark country roads

Twin Peaks’ natural surroundings are a gorgeous textural influence, as neon lights reflect on shiny wet roads and unspeakable secrets are concealed in mossy darkness. This is echoed in Kenzo’s 2014 pre-fall, menswear and ready-to-wear collections, which form Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s self-proclaimed ‘David Lynch trilogy’. Menswear AW14 had a focus on functionality, with a hint of menace. There were thick rubber-soled boots, enigmatic slogans on jumpers (‘Sometimes nature plays a trick, we imagine we are something other than what we truly are’), and jackets emblazoned with graphic prints of moonlit mountains and cabins. Pre-fall also sampled the textures and shades of the region – lumberjack jackets, woodgrain pumps, and a sweater emblazoned ‘FIRE’ all made an appearance.

Raf Simons raids the Black Lodge

The lush setting of Twin Peaks has an oneiric quality, encapsulated in the otherworldly and evil Black Lodge. Raf Simons drew upon this baleful atmosphere with his AW16 menswear collection, entitled ‘Nightmares and Dreams’. He explains, ‘I always like making beautiful things, but it’s also interesting when something goes wrong, something’s weird, something’s dark.’ The brawny signification of Varsity lettering and the multi-layered protection of rollneck-under-sweater-under-jumper is juxtaposed with a sense of fragility: wildly oversized cardigans, deliberately unravelling and patched, slip off the models’ shoulders as the designer embraced Lynch’s disorienting, ominous aesthetic.

Weird, progressive and sexy vibes at KEnzo AW14

Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn) is arguably Twin Peaks’ most enduring style icon. A mixture of 1950s sweater girl and B-movie vixen, Audrey is the cigarette-smoking, cherry-stem-tying, saddle-shoes-wearing amateur sleuth determined to uncover the dark secrets of her town. The spirit of her influence is felt in the graphic blue eyeliner flicks and ‘Twin Peaks ponytails’ that Aaron de Mey and Anthony Turner created for Kenzo’s AW14 show. Similarly, the whole of Kaelen’s AW15 collection is dedicated to Audrey’s ‘classic, albeit a little weird, progressive, and sexy vibe’, and is described as being, like Ms Horne herself, ‘sweet but a little bit fucked up.’ Feminine silhouettes, rich textures and quirky detailing such as red chevrons on pink silk evoke Audrey’s own bitter-sweet appeal.

Agent Cooper’s overcoat at Jil Sander SS17

This season, Twin Peaks’ timeless mash-up of influences has been interpreted into clean-cut, modern designs that draw on the flawless makeup and razor-straight side partings of its characters. Rodolfo Paglialunga channelled Agent Cooper’s sleekly professional style for the Jil Sander SS17 menswear collection, with an abundance of crisp trench coats and natural shades. Altuzarra’s snakeskin- and bralette-heavy SS17 ready-to-wear takes its primary inspiration from another Lynch touchstone, 1990’s Wild At Heart. However, its cinched-in waists, thick knits and 1950s-flavoured pencil skirts also undoubtedly cast shadows of mischievous Audrey and tragic femme fatale Josie Packard (Joan Chen).

That gum you like has finally come back in style

Twin Peaks is a truly unique beast. It has inspired many modern TV shows, but none has ever captured its bonkers, dazzling charm. Lynch and his team were making television into an art form long before The Sopranos or Mad Men crept onto the scene, and the series’ aesthetic and psychological spell over the public consciousness has never truly waned. Its cinematography lingers on everyday objects, twisting them with hidden meaning – this ceiling fan’s lazy whir becomes an implicit threat of violence, that overflowing ashtray is an artefact of a grieving mother’s abject loss. The mundane becomes peculiar, as we realise that the owls may not, in fact, be what they seem. Its popularity with artists and designers hinges upon this painstaking attention to detail, which works to externalise the transcendent inner lives of normal people into something strange and shimmeringly magical.

1 February 2019