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August 7, 2010 / Lemons and Roses

Is Fashion on A Time Trip Back to the Fifties?

I make jewelry and I try to figure out what people are looking for today and next year. I work with glass pressed beads, soldered metals, crystals, antiqued metals, steam punk, and glass and Scrabble® tile designs. I recently made several “retro snark” Scrabble tile pendants. (Scrabble was released to the public in 1949) I will let you see them soon. I found the following article by Ruth La Ferla in the New York Times Fashion & Style section and wonder what your thoughts are. Is 50s style going to be a trend soon?

Longing for No Nostalgia

The July issue of Vogue tried to tap into the mood of the hour with “Magnificent Obsession,” a fashion feature styled as a 1950s Technicolor melodrama, one replete with period-like headbands, swing skirts and skinny men’s ties. Vogue followed up in its current issue with “Classic Revival, a spread that showed off the sort of tightly structured handbags Grace Kelly favored in “Rear Window.”

The bland expressions, hyper-fastidious grooming and starchy frocks of the models were vividly in keeping with tirelessly calculated efforts by the fashion community to resurrect the decorum, apparent tidiness — and subterranean naughtiness — of Cheever country in the early 1960s.

Harper’s Bazaar scrambled onboard the nostalgia train with a July editorial that portrayed the actress Katherine Heigl trussed in snug-fitting dirndl dresses, the setting a flagstone patio that conjured the manicured environs of Darien, Conn.

W chimed in with “Sweet and Vicious,”featuring models tricked out as buxom debs, some with an evident wild streak. And a recent Louis Vuitton ad campaign highlighted pony-tailed young women wearing tight-waisted frocks straight out of the Eisenhower era.

Such reverent nods to the American midcentury are of course outgrowths of the “Mad Men” mania, as designers and marketers including Prada and Banana Republic attempt to hitch their fortunes to those of Don Draper and his highball-swilling cohort in the AMC hit television series set in the 1960s.

They are, their admirers insist, steeped in irony, riffs on the same idyllic — or subversive — themes that colored Douglas Sirk’s movies and, decades later, films like “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road.”

Lately though, such revivals seem shopworn — not to say mindlessly literal. Where, after all, is the irony in pushing replicas of grandma’s twin sets, camel’s hair coats and crinolines on a generation bred on loose-fitting T-shirts, denim and cyberworld tints?

Such interpretations amount to little more than “mimicry,” said Zane Mackin, a graduate student at Columbia University whom I was talking to the other evening. Sure, they’re nostalgic, Mr. Mackin said, as he flipped through the August W — but more than a little out of touch. Mr. Mackin is a rabid fan of period films like “Chariots of Fire,” with its Edwardian tennis sweaters and collegiana. “From a fashion perspective, that movie was great,” Mr. Mackin said. “But I would never wear those clothes. I’d be a cartoon.”



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