JOY DIVISION: AUSTERE SOUND AND STYLE

“In [Joy Division’s] songs, ordinary life achieves an epic grandeur. There’s no bombast or emotional theatrics; instead there’s a modernist starkness as pared down as a Samuel Beckett play.” – Simon Reynolds, The New York Times

Joy Division (originally titled Warsaw) formed in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 1976. After a slight re-shuffle on drums, it was Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Ian Curtis who conceived a uniquely stark and static sound – leading to a rise in melancholic post-punk across Northern England.

Defined by machinic pulses, low-key synthesizers, existential lyrics and a restless energy, Joy Division’s music was like the mindscape of Manchester – a crumbling industrial city with a dystopian environment. Style was born from this. Framed by stripped back silhouettes, bleak colour palettes and regimental postures, Joy Division used utilitarian uniforms as protection from their violent sounds.

A breakdown of their united style:

For the underlayer: white crew neck t-shirts. Simple, practical and ever so slightly exposed.

For the shirt: short sleeved ones sealed with ultra-skinny ties; long sleeved ones semi unbuttoned and finished with military-style pockets; patterned ones featuring monochrome stripes.

For the overlayer: V-neck lambswool sweaters and chunky sleeveless pullovers. Colour palette: black, white, grey.

For the overcoat: by day, three options: British pea coat, single-breasted herringbone blazer, double-breasted trench. By night, zero in sight.

For the trouser: two options: dark jeans or dark twill trousers. Straight cut, flat front. Shirts tucked into waistbands, silhouettes sealed with slim leather belts. A strapped-up stance for all.

For the footwear: battered zip-up boots, battered lace-up boots, well-worn brogues. Leather designs for intoxicating nights.

And the overall result: Militaristic silhouettes used for radical radio transmission. Eternal power, eternal energy, eternal effect.

Joy Division first appearance on TV. Granada Reports, Granada TV, September 20th, 1978. 

CUMMINS, Kevin, phot. CURTIS, Ian, chant. Manchester, United Kingdom. 1979. 

VAN ROSSEN, Lex, phot. CURTIS, Ian, chant. Manchester, United Kingdom. 1980. 

JOY DIVISION. An Ideal For Living album. 1978.

CUMMINS, Kevin, phot. JOY DIVISION. Manchester, United Kingdom. 1979. 

CORBIJN, Anton, phot. JOY DIVISION. Lancaster Gate station, London, United Kingdom. 1979.

SAVAGE, Jon. Shimmy poster. Manchester, United Kingdom.1979. 

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