(Our iconic clothes 2/7) The newsboy

(Our iconic clothes 2/7) The newsboy

In a thrift store in Châteauroux (Indre), Aline Gateau unearthed a gavroche cap at the bottom of a bin. Immediately, images of simple happiness resurfaced: fishing trips near Vignoux-sur-Barangeon, in the Cher, with André, the maternal grandfather, the cap screwed on the head. And it is precisely this gray herringbone pattern on which Aline’s eyes still linger today. “It was my very first gavroche, similar to that of my grandpa, she recalls, fifteen years later. Since this first impulse purchase, this mother has acquired other models, always second-hand: in brown leather, but also in floral fabric.“I never go out without wearing one, it’s my way of asserting myself!” she explains.

The headdress of the Parisian titi

As timeless as it is timeless, this cap is suitable for both women’s and men’s wardrobes, of all ages. In the land of Molière, the “gavroche” refers to the famous juvenile figure of the same name, wandering the streets of Paris and imagined by Victor Hugo in Wretched. The writer would have found his inspiration in Liberty Leading the People (1830), painting signed Eugène Delacroix where a young boy, pistols in hand, presents a face partly eclipsed by a flat black cap, equipped with a wide visor. At his side, stands a woman brandishing a French flag on the barricades, during the Trois Glorieuses revolution. The newsboy cap is therefore associated with the spirit of rebellion against the authority in place, the term newsboy echoing “this cheeky young Parisian at the origin of the figure of the Parisian titi.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the gavroche has its origins in a completely different story beginning in the second half of the 19th century. In the streets of New York, Chicago and other major American cities, children selling newspapers wear a woolen cap, similar to the Parisian gavroche. “In Anglo-Saxon countries, this accessory is also called newsboy cap”, notes Gabrielle Charaudeau, fashion historian. “The very first to wear this type of headgear were the outdoor workers. On construction sites, the cap protected them both from the cold and from the sun, and reflected their social status as proletarians, compared to the bourgeois sporting top hats. -form…”

“During the inter-war period, the use of the cap evolved, notes the historian, with the development of the automobile, but also activities such as golf and hunting. Wealthy circles then adopted this model for its practicality.” As for the artists of the time, they appropriated it for its rebellious side. In this bohemian environment, women seize it, just to blur the genres: another form of rebellion! Spirit of revolt taken up in the 1960s by a youth wishing to free themselves from the established order.

“Incarnation of a changing society, the newsboy cap came back in force in the 2000s, in haute couture, notes Gabrielle Charaudeau. Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel, for example, created their own model.” One of them, at Chanel, will be popularized in particular by actress Anne Hathaway in the film The devil wears Prada (2006). Worn by the Birmingham Mobsters from the series Peaky Blinders (broadcast on Netflix), “symbolizing rebellious elegance, the cap represents the height of chic”, affirms Adrien Galipaud, 26, creator of an online sales site for contemporary pieces in 2020. his fascination for this original accessory which led the young man to launch his site. The gavroche, still alive!

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