Legacy of the Past: Fashion History Echoes, n’est pas? Part 1

Fashion is and always will be a distinctive occurrence in the development of civilizations.
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Animation by Lesya Pakharyna

Fashion impacts and is impacted by all aspects of culture: music, architecture, theatre, books, etc. And fashion is always changing and evolving like other cultural developments. Not only does it help us to understand a particular historical era, but it enables us to express ourselves. Fashion has expanded (not separated itself) from being the response to historical and cultural shifts to being a creative outlet to express one's individuality.       

In the course of human history, a hundred years is not a particularly long time. However, within the course of fashion history, the metamorphosizes take place and there is a huge difference between trying to get around in a bone-cinching corset and the Under Armour leggings and Nike sneakers you might be wearing at this very moment. However, the corset managed to make its way from being an underwear to an outerwear.

The world and society never stay the same, something is always taking place in the world. This decade is very important to contemporary designers for many reasons. Firstly, technology progresses extremely fast and our way of life transforms with it as well. Furthermore, the all-over-the-world COVID pandemic has changed our attitudes and perceptions and it will have its impact on all aspects of life in the years to come. Contemporary fashion designers have been able to acclimate to this unique times. All these aspects are undoubtedly considered by contemporary designers. Nevertheless, we can observe how previous trends re-appear and fashion inventions recycle and we see plenty of the most popular looks of decades or even centuries past serving as inspiration for designers today.

The past designs of beautiful gowns and contemporary striking gowns with subtle or apparent historical influences prove once again that they are timeless.

So, let’s have a look at how a historical piece of clothing originating from the past retains its sense of timelessness.

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American or French dress about 1858, MFA / Ensemble 1855 American or European dress, the MET

My favorite collection where PAST meets NOW is Viktor & Rolf Couture SS 2019 collection. Altogether, the collection showcased Viktor & Rolf historically inspired garments with a twist of tongue-in-cheek Pop attitude. Exaggerated dresses volumes we have seen many times before in recent and not so years but in their collection, Horsting and Snoeren reflect how fashion could be a visual metaphor for the clatter of likes within the virtual world, where these language memes live. 

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Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren © Photo by Kate Bellm
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Viktor & Rolf Spring 2019 Couture © Photo by Alessandro Viero / 1863 Walking suit, Le Moniteur de la mode / Le Follet, 1854, No. 1887 Chapeau Mme Naudé

In 1953, Ann Lowe’s silk taffeta dress worn by Jacqueline Bouvier when she married John F. Kennedy.

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"Jackie" Kennedy Onassis in the Ann Lowe’s silk taffeta dress / Viktor & Rolf Spring 2019 Couture © Photo by Alessandro Viero
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Viktor & Rolf Spring 2019 Couture © Photo by Alessandro Viero / Marlene Dietrich in the Travis Banton's oversized gown of ruffled tulle © Getty Images / Rihanna in the Molly Goddard's dress / Giambattista Valli synthetic tulle confection, MET / Emma Roberts in Giambattista Valli © Getty Images / Christopher Kane Spring 2020 © Carlo Scarpato
Viktor & Rolf | Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019 Full Show

Another example of reviving past fashions is Paco Rabanne's influences, especially in recent collections.

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Paco Rabanne, 1965 © Getty Images
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Paco Rabanne’s first collection, 1967 © Jack Robinson / Lavin SS 2021 / Balenciaga SS 2021 / Paco Rabanne Fall 1974 © Michel Ginfray, Getty Images

Noted as "pop culture’s most irreverent designer “and much-loved by singers and musicians like Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Madonna, CL, rappers Cardi B and ASAP Rocky among others, Jeremy Scott discovers a lot of unexpected history-related elements for his designs, and with a pronounced tendency to pop-art, Moschino’s creative director Jeremy Scott entertains the fashion followers with an abundance of historical references in all his collections.

“A lot of my collections are informed by nostalgia,” says Jeremy Scott.
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Jeremy Scott © Giovanni Giannoni/WWD
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A portrait of Marie Antoinette © Getty Images / Moschino FW 2020/2021 © Filippo Fior /

"All I can do is offer a truce. Even if you keep fighting, you will need that moment of joy. We all need something inspiring. My role on this earth has only been to spread joy and bring happiness," said Jeremy Scott about the collection.

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Moschino Fall 2021 Ready-to-wear / Björk’s swan dress by Marjan Pejoski © Getty Images / Alexander McQueen dress by Sarah Burton
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The Poodle Skirt, the fashion staple of the 50s / Moschino Fall 2021 Ready-to-wear
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Moschino Fall 2021 Ready-to-wear / Victorian era

The past influences the present because it makes us who we are today. Without a past, we have nothing to go by, alter, or look back on. Therefore, elements from the past will always come back around and influence the present day of our society. However, it is up to us to what extent we let it influence us. Is it not a fair statement that the past is the core of nowadays designs but it has changed by giving them a contemporary twist!

To be continued...

Moschino | Fall Winter 2021/2022

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