Last week I talked about the Mod look and how much we love looks from the past. But what happens when we love a look from the past that is already recreating a look from the past? It gets complicated. More complicated than we need shopping for clothes to be.
This is the kind of generation-jumping, time-leaping fashion situation where Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap would really come in handy. Let me explain.
Last February, at Milan Fashion week, Frida Gianinni debuted an Autumn/Winter Gucci collection that would cause photographers and editors to go into raptures of unmitigated worship. It was beautiful, all of it.
The collection was basically an amped-up harkening back to the days of Studio 54. Each model looked as if she had been styled by Angelica Huston on her way to a hot date with Jack Nicholson, seen through the lens of Helmut Newton.
The women looked statuesque, powerful, immovable. The clothes were typical 70’s – wide-legged trousers, knee length boots meeting skirt hems, huge sunglasses. Leather, fur and chiffon were everywhere.
The collection had been given a modern twist. The furs were dyed from their natural state to bright, just on the right side of jarring colours; lavender, aquamarine, violet, Pernod green and a particular shade of yellow that can only be described as a tad Big Bird-y. The python was dyed similar colours. Because of the nature of fur and snakeskin (real or artificial) those colours took on the kind of multi-hued texture and dimension that is easily compared to precious jewels.
The original sombre colour palettes broken up with one or two bright colours to an outfit were not represented. Instead, an effusion of bright contrasting colours. A purple fur collar and muff was matched with a baby blue wool jacket, blue and purple sweater vest, red bow blouse, red trousers and accessorised with a black belt, midnight blue shoes and a burgundy velvet fedora trimmed with violet satin ribbon. Wear that in 1979 and people would assume you were colourblind. Today, it’s high fashion. It wobbled towards bad taste, but in a very good way.
What we conveniently forget is, at the time, the Studio 54 look was a twist on a previous decade – the 1930’s. The fur, the fedoras, the burgundy lips, the lowered hemlines, the sweeping gowns and the pussy bow blouses were all leftovers from another fashion decade.
Perhaps the trend was the echo of excess in a decade that was an economic disaster. Protected inside their bubble, the revellers in Studio 54 were temporarily exempt from the chaos going on outside. In the 1930s the rich left unscathed by the Great Depression continued to live excessively, oblivious to the mass migration and joblessness that stretched around the world. And this decade, with NAMA, bankrupt countries and an ever-shrinking population of young, skilled people… You can see a pattern forming, surely. It’s fashionomics.