DRESS FOR THE DECADES

ELLE (UK) - - Contents -

AW18 ref­er­ences every decade – here’s how to wear the sea­son’s vin­tage-in­spired styles

AW18 IS HEAVY on VIN­TAGE-IN­SPIRED LOOKS – SARA McALPINE EX­PLORES

the SEA­SON’S CHRONO­LOG­I­CAL MASH-UP. IT’S TIME to PLUCK FROM HIS­TORY on YOUR OWN TERMS

WHAT’S THE ADAGE ABOUT FINE

W I N E A N D A G E ? It’s that the best ones are vin­tage, isn’t it? Well, fash­ion is of the same view – the AW18 cat­walks were packed with throw­back styles. But now you have the choice to stay sober; in­dulge with your out­fit.

You only have to look at a hand­ful of shows to see a look for every decade, from the Fifties to now: teen-spir­ited mods at Miu Miu, beat­niks at Dior, punks at Ver­sace, club kids at Burberry, and so on… A chap­ter-by-chap­ter look at fash­ion as if plucked from the his­tory books.

But this isn’t quite vin­tage style. It’s 2018, and we have a whole lot of his­tory be­hind us. This back­ward glance is dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous sea­sons: Miu Miu’s rebels with­out a cause weren’t just wear­ing the bum-freezer coats of Fifties rock­ers. There was a bit of Eight­ies acid wash thrown in, the dig­i­tal prints of the early Noughties and a lit­tle Six­ties mini dress. Mod­els were styled as greaser girls, em­body­ing the spirit of those who walked: Slick Woods, Ad­woa Aboah and Lily McMe­namy all step­ping out of the neat, tenyear time­frame and chan­nelling their own en­ergy.

Our his­tory with vin­tage is rel­a­tively short. Eco­nomic ne­ces­sity was the tra­di­tional cat­a­lyst for turn­ing the style clock back (his­to­rian An­gela McRob­bie traces vin­tage, as a trend, back to the Eight­ies). But we have a rich cul­tural past, so it makes sense to tap into the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment of some­thing that was ground­break­ing and provoca­tive when it was new.

‘There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing referential and look­ing back with nos­tal­gia,’ says Lon­don-based de­signer Michael Halpern, known for cel­e­brat­ing the style and spirit of the Six­ties and Seven­ties. ‘It’s more about ref­er­enc­ing the state of mind of a time. Fo­cus­ing on that al­lows us to cre­ate some­thing that feels new, rather than an­ti­quated and too fa­mil­iar.’

The mood we’re able to tap into with throw­back styles is key to AW18’s con­tem­po­rary brico­lage. We’re not just en­dors­ing bell-bot­tom jump­suits when we buy into Halpern’s brand of Seven­ties glam­our, we’re buy­ing into the feel­good en­ergy – the he­do­nism! – of disco. For SS19, Halpern is also pay­ing homage to the sex­ual lib­er­a­tion of his grand­mother’s era, ref­er­enc­ing the decade she came of age via ac­counts from his own mother (so it’s un­der­stand­able that the mille-feuille mes­sag­ing gets a bit meta as we move up the time­line).

“THERE’S a DIF­FER­ENCE BE­TWEEN REFERENTIAL

and LOOK­ING BACK with NOS­TAL­GIA”

“TO GIVE AU­THEN­TIC VIN­TAGE a NEW LEASE

of LIFE, KEEP JEW­ELLERY CLEAN and

MIN­I­MAL”

Cul­tural his­to­rian Dick Heb­dige adds that ‘styles [pay] trib­ute to the place in which they were pro­duced’. We’re fash­ion­ing an iden­tity, pulling at the strands of our past to speak to our val­ues; it’s like fash­ion pick’n’mix.

That much was clear at Gucci’s AW18 show, with cre­ative di­rec­tor Alessan­dro Michele’s char­ac­ter­is­tic archival alchemy. ‘We are the Franken­stein of our times,’ he said, ad­dress­ing his own mix of fan­tasy and fem­i­nism, re­fer­ring to women’s stud­ies pro­fes­sor Donna Har­away and throw­ing a (fake) baby dragon among Twen­ties-style bed jack­ets and NY Yan­kee caps (peak Eight­ies). Gucci has been an eclec­tic mix of ref­er­ences since Michele stepped in, re­mind­ing us of the fun in play­ing with what al­ready ex­ists, remix­ing it into some­thing new.

As for other brands de­liv­er­ing vin­tage-in­spired looks for AW18, Match­es­fash­ion.com’s ed­i­to­rial fash­ion di­rec­tor Natalie Brew­ster rec­om­mends Mar­ques’ Almeida, Calvin Klein and Chloé. To give au­then­tic vin­tage pieces a new lease of life, ‘keep jew­ellery clean and min­i­mal’, she adds.

Given the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, it makes sense to think we’re us­ing our wardrobes as a means of speak­ing through style, re­call­ing rene­gades of first-, sec­ond-, third- (fourth-?!) wave fem­i­nism, ready to re­trace those steps. The uni­forms of protest ref­er­enced at Dior were once sign­posts for like-minded women, with roots in some­thing that still feels rel­e­vant. Whether you’re buy­ing into this sea­son’s chrono­log­i­cal mash-up or cre­at­ing your own with a mix of true vin­tage, one thing’s for sure: mem­ory is in fash­ion.

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