We are no strangers to nostalgia. We crave it, we worship it, we post about it and, perhaps most pertinently in the recent dawn of Fashion Month, we wear it. The Seventies have been vehemently revived on the runway. As a result, few collections do not present suede, shearling or warm, earthy tones. Seeking a pant without flare is like seeking chocolate with no sugar: vaguely rare and frankly, kind of bitter. But the thing about the runway replicas of seventies hallmarks is precisely that — they’re replicas.
Maybe this indicates the longevity and attractiveness of seventies fashion, but in the oversimplification of an entire decade of clothes, the devaluing of fashion history presents itself as another overarching trend.
In the use of the concept of minimalism, the decade in question is reduced to little nuance. Surely the more bohemian looks of the early seventies vary from the tailored activewear of mid-decade, which in turn is different from the styles that just preceded the eighties. It was a span of time that is marked by substantial shifts in both style and politics, and yet, this went largely unexplored in New York at Fashion Week. Never mind the mere fact that the city is home to several designers who punctuated the bygone and renewed era: Halston, Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg et al.
But the disregard for contextual history doesn’t just plague the most recent trend on our hands — altogether collections of the past few seasons have become permutations of what they’d previously been. Rare is a designer who does more than fix his syntax. But it seems like an impossibility that the apparent talent on display is just less creative than it has been, so maybe the democratization of both information and archives have provided an opportunity to play around with a bottomless inventory of looks that make the subsequent fusion and production astonishingly easy.
Worth asking is whether this odd, democracy-derived sense of ownership made modern fashion an abridged version of its own history, much the same way SparkNotes can summarize a Dostoyevsky novel in, say, 5oo words.
But an industry founded on the tenets of pushing boundaries and breaking barriers can’t rely on the crutch of the past forever. Sure, the nature of fashion is cyclical, but replication is detrimental to innovation. And when coupled with the mass dissemination of information, the runway becomes less influential than it ever has been. Where innovation wanes, the consumer rises. Of the clothes and their inspiration, will the girls of 2015 be saying: “I can make that myself”?
We defer to Paris.
Edited by Leandra Medine