Trends are succeeding each other so rapidly right now; I can't imagine this pace keeping up for more than a few years. I'm flicking through my daily emails and it's one PR promotion after another, a sale, a net a porter magazine, a "New in" from Donna Ida. On Tuesday they showcase the essential wardrobe staple printed cowboy boots; On Wednesday they receive the essential wardrobe staple cocoon boyfriend coat. Next thing you know, you're wearing stiletto cowboy boots, a biker coat, a sweater that says "Boom!" and a green croc Antigona, and it's not even funny.
Overload of fashion statements is perhaps the most worrying effect of the crisis, but that's not what I wanna talk about today. I wanna talk about the retro trend. It seems like everything nowadays is a nod to something from the past. Even things that look futuristic are, well, 60s Barbarella of course, who better to understand this concept? And I embrace this retro thing going on, I really do, but I have to be honest with myself: This thing that we call retro, is not actually retro. It's modern retro. It's a re-interpretation of things. I have to remind myself of this because sometimes I come across a vintage whatever and from all logical angles it seems like it should be hot shit right now, but it isn't.
And that's because even though there is a fashion cycle and things do come back in a way, they are never replicated exactly, they merely resurrect elements but never like before. There are fundamental differences like materials, colours, fit, and more than anything, proportions. In the XXI century it is all about the tortuously elongated figure- a Barbie doll has nothing on our current set of ideals. I haven't stopped to draw a sketch, but I'm pretty sure the kind of figure we're aiming at is about 10 heads tall and narrow (the average human is 7 1/2 heads). It really emphasizes the grace and nobility of a mannequin. For this, the tallest heels are required, and fabrics fit like never before to produce a very sleek result. Lots of viscose and stretchy materials. The elongated body is very modern and desirable.
We're so in tune with our current vision of beauty that nothing authentically retro looks right to us: Not even people. We see sex symbols from... ten years ago, as close as that, and they look short and stumpy and just plain fat.
A good example is Marilyn Monroe, this myth about Marilyn being perfect "yet a size 12", it has become somewhat of a plus-size manifesto. The reality is that Marilyn's measurements were 22-23 waist, 35-36 hips. I am 22-35 and wear a size 0, so you do the maths. She just doesn't have a XXI century fashion model body shape; neither do I.
Here's a few women and what they claim they measure. Can you believe that these women would all pretty much wear the same dress size?
Another proportion comparison: A perfect 10 in the 60s: Ursula Andress
Perfect 10 now: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
It's not only proportions that distinguish the modern retro from the dated retro, it's everything. When retro is not modern, it's just old.
And the changes are constant...it changes every week. The "60s" we saw in 2011 has nothing to do with the trend we're seeing this season, and if you compare it with the one from 1968 it has practically no similarities. Louis Vuitton came up with a very pretty "60s" theme (infinite quotation marks orbiting the damned number) this season. Theme is a good way to call it. This is SS13 "60s" makeup.
This is 60s makeup:
These are 60s shoes:
These are shoes we call "60s". They are a cross between 60s, 70s and 90s block heel. Most of which are already dated anyway.
Authentic retro jewelery is absurdly gaudy and dated. These are some 70s Chanel earrings
The 70s punk was an anti-consumerist movement. Not a Pamela Love anthem. This is punk: (sex pistols)
The editorials that Sienna Miller was doing for promotion of her film "Factory Girl" about Eddie Segdwick. The styling was a perfect modern retro at its time of release in 2006. Now? Neither 60s, nor modern.
Modern retro gangster done beautifully by Saint Laurent SS13:
Modern retro is so elusive and ephemeral, I have a huge respect for it. It's where you see the difference between a real designer, and a person that doesn't quite get it. A real designer can assimilate the beauty ideals and the feel of what we want today, and produce a garment that is by all accounts absolutely modern in terms of techniques, materials, cut, fit... but that has a nostalgia about it that may well recreate vividly the aura of a certain era. That's what I crave.
I think that has a value that is greater than pure ol' retro. It is current, and we shouldn't underestimate the power of being current in body and spirit. Retro has its historical value of course, which is a huge thing in itself. And arguably, the perfect modern retro will be dated the moment it is produced. But there is one magical moment where it is so in tune with everything that is happening around it, so perfectly balanced, that it is beautiful.
Just something for me to acknowledge.
This is an open discussion.
I'm in my panties right now. For a girl that ponders so much, I sure wear very little.