Have you ever wondered how fashion trends start? How is it that every season so many designers come up with similar looks? Since all designers work in secret, hidden away from the world as they plan their collections, how do they know what we will want to wear six months or even a year in the future?
On the 2012 runways from New York, London, Paris and Milan, inspiration seemed to come from past eras that are currently popular in art, music, film and TV. There were many chic new interpretations inspired by the retro fashion themes of the '20s, '50s and '60s. Here are three current fashion trends and where I think they might have originated.
Art Deco and the 1920s
For Spring 2012, designer after designer sent looks perfect for a modern day flapper down the runway, complete with Art Deco styles in black, white and gold, adorned with sequins and feathers. Short shift dresses called to mind a modern day Louise Brooks and channeled images of The Great Gatsby. Gucci's Art Deco-themed spring collection had some great flapper-inspired beaded dresses that have recently become a popular look on the red carpet. Where did this trend come from?
I've heard that this fall a remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby by director Baz Luhrmann will be released, starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan & Toby Maguire. It appears to have amazing set and costume designs that fit in perfectly with this trend. Esperanza Spaulding has also brought jazz back to the chic set as the first jazz musician to win a Grammy for Best New Artist. Even singer Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine, a new darling of the fashion set, has been know to wear a sort of neo-20's flapper style on stage & in her music videos.
This year's Academy Award for Best Picture went to The Artist, which was set in 1927. And rumor has it that the next season of the popular PBS series Downton Abbey will take place in the "Roaring Twenties," complete with flapper fashions, jazz clubs and cocktails. What else, you might ask? Well, the '20s were all about rebellion, speakeasies and the empowerment of women. Could it be that we've all been trying so hard to be good that we are now ready for a moment of decadence?
Ladylike Fashions of the '50s & '60s
Another popular trend on the Spring & Fall 2012 runways is a sort of 1950's housewife look (for spring) sometimes shown in sweet, candy-colored pastels that has now morphed into a sort of polished uptown look that is very lady-like, grown up and proper (for fall). What does this all mean and where is this trend coming from? Although one can never be sure, I would venture to say that even though feminism still has a long way to go, lately women are feeling stronger.
The tables are turning my friends, more and more women are out-earning their male counterparts and are holding down powerful positions. I think there is a general feeling among women that it's OK to embrace their soft, feminine side again. Also, after years of casual dressing in the workplace, it seems like fun to start dressing up again. One has only to look to popular retro TV shows like Mad Men, to see that the program is popular not just for the clever story line, but also for the 1960s costumes and for seeing how people once put themselves together to go to work every day. No "Casual Fridays" in sight, it's just about dressing to impress. And there's something nice about that.
In fact, all things '60s seem to be in vogue again, what with a slew of retro TV shows (now cancelled) such as Pan Am & The Playboy Club, which premiered last fall. Also, look to the upcoming release of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie, a remake of the '60s soap opera (though the movie is set in 1972).
As far as the 1950s trend, could this be originating from any of the following? There's a 1950s: Yves St Laurent Retrospective currently showing at The Denver Art Museum, and we recently saw the movie My Week With Marilyn with Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Other current pop culture icons that seem to emulate an old-fashioned vintage-inspired, yet modern day style are singers Adele & Lana Del Rey.
Uptown Granny Chic (as seen on the Fall 2012 runways)
This new fall trend features a sort of Park Avenue style straight out of grandma's closet, with retro florals & tweeds and bold brocade fabrics, strong collars, shawls, fur accents, embroideries & leather. It's a sort of Mad Max meets the Park Avenue set. Perhaps designers were taking inspiration from Downton Abbey? Are we feeling a return to over-the-top luxury and refinement? An homage to the British parliament inspired by our recent cultural obsession with the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton?
Designer Marc Jacobs' Fall 2012 runway show was a magical, fairytale-like extravaganza featuring a "decaying castles" set design from artist Rachel Feinstein and music from Oliver! (currently on tour in the UK). The clothes seemed to be inspired by the eccentric style of fashion journalist Anna Piaggi, Elsa Schiaparelli and the pilgrims and Puritans of 17th-century Plymouth. With its winding runway, cartoon-sized hats & exaggerated silhouettes, it also called to mind the fantastical world of a Dr. Seuss book come to life. Designers Tory Burch & Oscar De La Renta showed very grown-up, prim and proper "put together" looks that were very uptown chic, while designer L'Wren Scott's collection seemed to look once again to Downton Abbey for inspiration.
Recently we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday & saw the release of the The Lorax. There is a Prada/Schiapparelli Exhibit currently up at the Met in NYC, and fairy tales are at large with two recent films inspired by Snow White: Mirror Mirror & Snow White and The Huntsman. Many of the fall runway looks were also reminiscent of the recent Meryl Streep film, The Iron Lady. All in all, even though we may never know where fashion trends truly originate, you might be surprised to discover that the latest musician, television show or movie you have become obsessed with just might become the inspiration for the latest fashion trend. Be on the look out!