Retro-cool : go back in time

all editorials

Retro-cool : go back in time

More than ever, fashion is increasing its number of references to the past, creating a retro-cool charm that confidently recalls the reassuring 70s or the techno, fun 2000s. It’s an almost infinite resource, giving clothing significance and authenticity. 

For millennials, the most appealing revival is the 2000s, also called Y2K

Looking at the fashion collections, it’s sometimes difficult to confirm that we really are in 2023! Everywhere, from small labels to big houses, vintage references are legion. For millennials, the most appealing revival is the 2000s, also called Y2K (for the year two thousand) by English speakers. So in today’s fashionable wardrobes, we can find cargo pants and the form-fitting cotton stretch dresses that Britney Spears would have happily worn. In general, the second half of the 20th century is heavily referenced everywhere, forming a kind of “retrorama”, like an animated fashion history book.

The time travel can start at Balzac Paris, where there’s an abundance of prim and proper, almost Victorian blouses with small, high collars, ruffles, and lace. The next step takes us to the 1960s with hippie clogs from Sessùn and gorgeous shift dresses from Soeur. Hopping ahead ten more years puts us in the 1970s, another big winner in fashion’s memory. At ba&sh, folklore-inspired embroideries on blouses and loose-cut dresses add a bohemian charm characteristic of the post-WW2 boom. Leon & Harper make a bold move with psychedelic prints. Roseanna names Mathilde Willinck, a 1970s-1980s Dutch socialite, the muse of it spring-summer collection. And Wear Marcia takes its name from the Rita Mitsouko hit. It’s enough to make us lose track of where we are in time!

But the trend of looking back for inspiration isn’t new either. Since the 60s and the designers considered disruptive – Cardin, Courrèges, and Saint Laurent – fashion hasn’t stopped delving into the past and paying obvious homage to what has gone before. It’s probably because those references are somehow reassuring, which counts even more in our uncertain times. Who could stay unmoved by the golden 1970s with the promise of peace and prosperity and the breath of freedom they brought? So the myths about hippies, new agers, and even jet setters are reworked in an infinite number of versions. And it’s the same thing for bourgeois characters from the Pompidou-era, so often evoked for their soothing influence with big doses of twin sets, skirt suits, pearl necklaces, and pumps. Pay attention, a splashy comeback is announced for next winter.

Designers are finding what they need in this inspiration hotbed. It’s a rich source of ideas for those who are cruelly obliged to satisfy production demands and keep pace with the early 21st century fashion industry. So designers’ moodboards are often peppered with sepia images and pictures of icons who are from the past but have enduring charm. There are so many long-gone ghosts who let us briefly escape the digital world, where the heroes (influencers with millions of followers) sometimes present an increasingly uniform aesthetic.

Trend Consultant Feriel Karoui shares her analysis

“For a long time we’ve talked about ‘mix and match’ to define a combination of styles or prints in an outfit. Today we talk about mixing and matching eras, since we can enjoy freely combining references from different periods in history. It’s interesting to note that at the same time there’s a boom in the vintage market, there’s also the growth of this retro-cool aesthetic that takes elements from the past to create new clothing. In the era of the metaverse and artificial intelligence, there’s a certain nostalgia and the desire to remember a world that’s gone and that we imagine as better. But there’s also the wish to celebrate expertise and heritage. Maybe modernity resides partly in this memory and in passing it on.”

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© Marcia

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© Sessùn

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© Sœur

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© Balzac Paris

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© Ba&sh

all editorials

Retro-cool : go back in time

More than ever, fashion is increasing its number of references to the past, creating a retro-cool charm that confidently recalls the reassuring 70s or the techno, fun 2000s. It’s an almost infinite resource, giving clothing significance and authenticity. 

For millennials, the most appealing revival is the 2000s, also called Y2K

Looking at the fashion collections, it’s sometimes difficult to confirm that we really are in 2023! Everywhere, from small labels to big houses, vintage references are legion. For millennials, the most appealing revival is the 2000s, also called Y2K (for the year two thousand) by English speakers. So in today’s fashionable wardrobes, we can find cargo pants and the form-fitting cotton stretch dresses that Britney Spears would have happily worn. In general, the second half of the 20th century is heavily referenced everywhere, forming a kind of “retrorama”, like an animated fashion history book.

The time travel can start at Balzac Paris, where there’s an abundance of prim and proper, almost Victorian blouses with small, high collars, ruffles, and lace. The next step takes us to the 1960s with hippie clogs from Sessùn and gorgeous shift dresses from Soeur. Hopping ahead ten more years puts us in the 1970s, another big winner in fashion’s memory. At ba&sh, folklore-inspired embroideries on blouses and loose-cut dresses add a bohemian charm characteristic of the post-WW2 boom. Leon & Harper make a bold move with psychedelic prints. Roseanna names Mathilde Willinck, a 1970s-1980s Dutch socialite, the muse of it spring-summer collection. And Wear Marcia takes its name from the Rita Mitsouko hit. It’s enough to make us lose track of where we are in time!

But the trend of looking back for inspiration isn’t new either. Since the 60s and the designers considered disruptive – Cardin, Courrèges, and Saint Laurent – fashion hasn’t stopped delving into the past and paying obvious homage to what has gone before. It’s probably because those references are somehow reassuring, which counts even more in our uncertain times. Who could stay unmoved by the golden 1970s with the promise of peace and prosperity and the breath of freedom they brought? So the myths about hippies, new agers, and even jet setters are reworked in an infinite number of versions. And it’s the same thing for bourgeois characters from the Pompidou-era, so often evoked for their soothing influence with big doses of twin sets, skirt suits, pearl necklaces, and pumps. Pay attention, a splashy comeback is announced for next winter.

Designers are finding what they need in this inspiration hotbed. It’s a rich source of ideas for those who are cruelly obliged to satisfy production demands and keep pace with the early 21st century fashion industry. So designers’ moodboards are often peppered with sepia images and pictures of icons who are from the past but have enduring charm. There are so many long-gone ghosts who let us briefly escape the digital world, where the heroes (influencers with millions of followers) sometimes present an increasingly uniform aesthetic.

Trend Consultant Feriel Karoui shares her analysis

“For a long time we’ve talked about ‘mix and match’ to define a combination of styles or prints in an outfit. Today we talk about mixing and matching eras, since we can enjoy freely combining references from different periods in history. It’s interesting to note that at the same time there’s a boom in the vintage market, there’s also the growth of this retro-cool aesthetic that takes elements from the past to create new clothing. In the era of the metaverse and artificial intelligence, there’s a certain nostalgia and the desire to remember a world that’s gone and that we imagine as better. But there’s also the wish to celebrate expertise and heritage. Maybe modernity resides partly in this memory and in passing it on.”

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