Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Meg didn't like about Spring 2011...

I don't wanna dress for the recession.

Last week or so, I got my usual URBAN email boasting a new trend or discount on shipping. Usually, I just delete the mongering message but today I was struck by its title: “TREND REPORT: 70’s”. The images in the email displayed mousy models dressed in modest denim and sober floral against an atrocious tangerine background. Not a pleasant sight.

I have always thought of the seventies as the collection of hair at the bottom of the drain after the hot shower of the 60’s already left the basin. And quite frankly, I’m at a loss to explain why designers this season, particularly Marc Jacobs with his oversized straw hats paired with purple wide leg slacks and Anna Sui’s full length floral dresses over denim with knit sweaters still decided to invoke the 70’s as a decade of inspiration.

It seems that since the beginning of the financial crisis there has been a trend in fashion to look to ‘modest’ decades like the 30’s,40’s and 70’s as a touch stone for the non- indulgent dress. In Fall 2008, I swooned over the Vogue Editorial Collection which highlighted designers who looked to the 30’s and 40’s as way to edit high fashion’s exorbitant image and prepare for the coming troubles the financial setback would have on the market. I found Prada’s Fall ‘09 collection an incredible artistic response to the falling stock market. The frizzed 30’s hair-do of the models, their high-waisted wool shorts and their farm-ready thigh high rubber boots were a perfect anecdote to the vacillating financial climate.

We saw similar trends in S 2010, including the everywhere WWII inspired military jacket (featured in Alexander Wang's Spring line). Elle magazine called the trend, the "season's uniform" a "continued shift form excess to less" (Elle Collections Spring Summer 2010, 73). Christopher Kane's S 2010 created a similar connection to the 1930's with his Dorothy inspired gingham sun dresses. While I found these reinterpretations of recession/depression era fashion an appealing retort to our own financial woes, I found this season's look to the 70's a little drawn out.

While, I understand there are many parallels in our own time to the 1970's (economic troubles and prolonged war) I was hoping this season, more designers would have provided an optimistic middle finger to the downtrodden times. Enough with the sober, nostalgic work-ready outfits, let's look at excess again. Where else besides fashion is that sort of extravagance allowed? Fashion is of a certain medium that on the one hand, can reflect the cultural climate, but on the other, can usher new stylistic changes that are set apart from the zeitgeist and can instead inspire change. I'm talking about the future here: fur, glitter and alien-inspired-wears are welcomed.

Where are you when we need you, Alexander Mcqueen?

(Mcqueen: F06, F09, S10)

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