Taking a flip through The New York Times’ Style Magazine, there is a clear repetition, or rather, re-occurrence of certain trends that we know, thanks to the accurate documentation of fashion through art, have been around for quite some time. Some of these styles have been derived from the bourgeoisie—the over-the-top decorative manner of those who could afford to spare no expense—while some have far more humble origins—the simple and accessible fashions of the day-to-day people.
This year, well, as in every year, fashion has reached back–way back–for inspiration in creating some of the hottest trends right now.
One of these rising trends are the over-accentuated sleeves that narrow drastically to fit the form of the arm. When looking at the portrait Nancy, the Artist’s Daughter by George de Forest Brush, it is clear that this is noting new, just revived . It’s no doubt that her fashion would’ve been considered over the top at the time (ca. 1915)—perhaps a throwback to an even earlier time. Note the tight sleeves on the forearm that billow out as the eye reaches the shoulder. Lady Gaga wore this stunning Elizabethan latex gown while meeting the Queen of England last December. Note the similarities between Gaga’s cutting-edge fashion, and the portrait’s early 1900’s dress.As in Gaga’s get-up, we see some basic commonalities between the two dresses. The vibrant color that dominates the dress, the presumed length (floor-length for modesty), the styling of the sleeves, and even the acute attention to the ruched details of the two gowns. Leave it to Gaga to take this fashion to another realm by updating a tried and true look to fit her edgy style. Stella McCartney has a similar styled yet more tame (sorry, no latex here!) look with her Buttermilk Cashmere Wool Althea Jacket from her Fall 2009 collection.
Ruffles and layers—much like the ones worn by upper-class men and women of the 17th and 18th centuries—have also flooded the runway this season, appearing in ad campaigns for companies ranging from Banana Republic to St. John.
When speaking if ruffles, how can we not discuss Miss Cara Burch? As we noted earlier, she is decked out in white frills and ruffles typical of an upper-class girl. White–once the color of a comfortable living, todaythe bane of fashionistas after Labor Day–is now a hot commodity. Especially white blouses with ruffles. We see here in St. John’s Ruffled Blouse a fresh take on the very same look of Ms. Burch. The primary ruffle that runs along the breast-bone for Ms. Burch has been angled to come behind the nape of the neck rather than over the shoulders and across the back. The thick white sleeves have been replaced with a more sheer look, all capped off by belled, ruched sleeves, are reminiscent of Ms. Burch’s own.
Some collections, like Tibi’s Fall 2010 collection, were inspired by the neat, chic simplicity of the early 20th century. Note the woman in the painting–she is dressed in clean, straight lines that make the dress nearly look like a slip. She has on thick, opaque stockings and what appears to be a mid-calf boot. The waist belt has been a staple for a few years now, a neat accessory to tie together an outfit. The somber brown and nude colors below are two dresses from recent collections, on the left, Tibi’s on the right, Naeem Khan. Each designer takes their own spin on the classic simplicity of the 1920’s. Both have belts, and while one is floor length, the other closely resembles the woman from du Bois’ painting–cut just below the knee, paired with a dark stocking.
So to say that the memory of fashion is short, and that trends are changning too quickly, and are perhaps needlessly recycled ever few years is incorrect. Some of the most cutting edge trends of the moment go back centuries to produce updated looks for 2010.
Readers, what do you think? Would you wear these past-inspired looks? Do you think that designers are looking back to move forward? Or is this just coincidence? What trends do you want to see come back?