Fashion is cyclical. Evolutionary, never revolutionary. In time, all trends once popular will reinvent and modernize themselves for another period, typically in fifteen to twenty year cycles. The trends of the early 1900’s are being reinvented for the beginning years of the millennium. Vintage has come to represent clothing from a past period that is being revived to suit today’s fashion standards. The fashion cycle, however, cannot go faster than the speed dictated by the designers and trend forecasters. Perhaps that is the reason we have yet to cherish the pieces we wore in the late nineties.
The overall feel of fashion in the nineties was a reaction to the embellished, hyperbolic styles of the eighties. The color was drained with the invention of “the new black” (any color other than black which was popular for a particular season). The rule of thumb for the wardrobe was less is more. These trends resonated strongly in the beginning of the decade coming to a close in 1997.
Looking upon the world 10 years ago, a period of quiet reflection inundated my mind when remembering the deaths of two of the fashion industries most influential innovators, Princess Diana and Gianni Versace. The latter of which sparked a revival of seventies prints perhaps contributing to the sudden jolt of color and the success of the first of three adventures with Austin Powers. Heroin chic models were seen from runways to print donned in the blackish- green color that was all the rage in 1997. Gwen Stefani and Hanson were gracing the airwaves while the Full Monty, Titanic, and Good Will Hunting were shining on the silver screen. All the while, Tamagotchi toys were attached to the key chains of everyone from middle schoolers to bored collegestudents.
Foreshadowing of the years most important trends begins with the annual awards show season. With the popularity of such films as Titanic, menswear trends reached a level of formality reminiscent of the early 1900s. A decade ago, gentlemen flawlessly presented themselves in bow-tie tuxedo perfection, a la Jack Dawson. The formality in menswear that launched during red carpet season carried on throughout the year. For the men of the late 90’s, the larger than life all- American brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein brought forth a preppy style. The Grunge look described by Cher in Clueless was passing; guys were pulling up their pants and showing off a more refined, east-coast cool persona. From polo shirts to t-shirts to designer denim, all styles were blatantly emblazoned with the logos of American designers.
As for their female counterparts adorning the red carpet, both young and mature actresses chicly accented the neckline, from strapless to v-neck. This focus seen on Academy Awards gowns set forth a precedent for the year. Women began to emphasize the bodice. The baby doll t-shirt was making headway when paired with loose fitting designer denim and a mini-rucksack. This trend, as well as the resurgence of color into the wardrobe, spawned additional hippie inspired accents originating during the 1970’s. Peace signs and smiley faces adorned everything from necklaces to t-shirts. Along with color in the wardrobe, colorful streaks in hairstyles were also popular. Women of the late nineties were bored with less is more and began dressing under the theory that more is more.
Perhaps you have not yet found yourself lusting after mini-rucksacks, mid-rifts, and colorful hair streaks, but be patient and let the fashion cycle turn at its designated speed. If you look carefully, you will notice wardrobe stylists wearing overalls and platform shoes walking down the Spring 2007 runways of Chanel and MarcJacobs. Like Darwin’s finches, all styles are evolutionary.