Sometimes looking back helps us go forward. Case in point, the overwhelming resurgence of vintage styles culled from the roaring twenties right through the heyday of the eighties.
The 1920’s brought us reverence for Art Deco decadence and the silver screen goddess look. Slinky gowns shimmied in full flapper fashion with sequins, bugle beads and fringe. Feathers, fur and plenty of artifice finished the look that celebrated excess and high glamour. Louise Brooks was this decade’s decisive muse.
The 1930’s were slightly more reserved with less skin on show. Heavy, crepe bias dresses, longer sleeves and hats galore. This decade’s divas included Garbo, Harlow and Dietrich, each bringing a strong, polished glamour to fashion.
The early 1940’s brought a wartime sobriety to fashion with quiet, muddy colors. Fabric restrictions commanded shorter, narrower skirts. Broad, padded shoulders confirmed the inner strength of the female sex. 1947 heralded Dior’s controversial New Look that gave women the confidence to indulge in full, rich skirts made from yards and yards of fabric. Frivolity returned to fashion in a major way. The Golden Age of cinema celebrated the steamy, high drama quality of Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and Vivien Leigh.
The 1950’s ushered in a new puritanical style. Fitted bodices, full, swishy good-girl skirts, cat-eye glasses and smart purses defined her look. But on the flip side was the scandalous rock n’ roller. Tight pencil skirts, tighter sweaters with pin-up style pointy breasts and even pointier pumps. A boyfriend’s biker jacket over the shoulder sealed the deal. Uncompromising and incomparable, the 50’s muses like Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn made major contributions to style.
The 1960’s brought women a newfound freedom in fashion. Mary Quant’s mod look was all the rage, with mini skirts (and we mean mini), go go boots and bright, pop-art tights. Legs were the focal point. Vidal Sassoon changed the landscape forever for women’s hairstyles and the naïve doe-eyed look was easily achieved with long false eyelashes. Courreges and Cardin worked the space-age look with geometric shapes and clothing made from metal and plastic pieced together with links that left little to the imagination. The first topless swimsuit, Rudi Gernreich’s Monokini, rocked the world. The Swinging Sixties brought us Twiggy, Veruschka and Jean Shrimpton.
The 1970’s hippie was more than just a style, it was a mindset. Freewheeling and bohemian with long, unkempt hair, layers of printed, loose clothing and bell bottom jeans; women and men’s looks were virtually interchangeable. Peace, love and happiness were the monikers that carried throughout until disco hit the scene in the late 70’s and redefined the moment. The Saturday Night Fever look exemplified fashion with Farrah Fawcett feathered hair, slinky jersey dresses and tight, high waisted denim. Janis Joplin, Charlie’s Angels and Lauren Hutton embodied this decade.
The early 1980’s exploded with Punk and New Wave style. The hardcore Sex Pistols inspired looks from Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shocked with studded biker jackets, bondage trousers, thick-soled creepers, ripped clothing and mohawks. The New Romantics were more inspired by the techno style of Steve Strange, Duran Duran and Culture Club’s colorful teased-out hair, outrageous makeup and Adam Ant’s pirates. Androgyny played a big part in this decade, just look at Annie Lennox. As the music scene became more pop than punk, a shift in fashion took place. Excess ruled. Padded shoulders, women’s matching power suits, short skirts, big hair and bigger jewelry. From Madonna’s ever-evolving jumbled look that put us all in leggings, fingerless gloves and off-the-shoulder t-shirts to Azzedine Alaia’s body-con ideal of exquisitely crafted knits and leathers, the 80’s were a major style decade. Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford and Madonna personified this moment.