Posted on February 22, 2016

Fringe, Art Deco, Mini Skirts: Is Fashion Repeating Itself?

Fashion & Beauty

Since the mid-2000s, inspiration from past fashions have been on the rise and apparent in modern trends. Subcultural styles of punks, hippies, mods and grungies have influenced designers and magazine editorials. Even time periods such as the 1920s, 1950s and many others have served as inspiration. Silhouettes and trends may change, but inspiration from other time periods and subcultures will remain engraved in the creative minds of the fashion world.


Trends from fringe, leather jackets and high-waisted jeans to athletic wear are all influenced by earlier historical periods. The 1970s trend of wide-legged high-waisted pants and fringe resurfaced in 2013 and is still climbing the trend latter. Designers including Tom Ford, Lanvin, Valentino and even Project Runway season 13 winner Sean Kelly, have all incorporated fringe in their shows.

Regarding the rise of the Studio 54 trends, New York Times quoted Rebecca Arnold, a fashion historian at the Courtland Institute of Art in London saying, “Certain elements of the period—the garish prints and weird color combinations—keep repeating.” Even on the streets, people are recycling the bohemian vibe. Since the revitalization of the hippie subcultural style, designers such as Rachel Zoe, Yves Saint Laurent, and Cholé—among others—hopped on the Bohemian train.

“Mad Men” or Mod Men?

Television shows and movies like “Mad Men” and “The Great Gatsby” have had a large impact on fashion and functioned as trend muses. The emergence of  “The Great Gatsby” movie adaptation inspired many women to unleash their headbands and t-strap heels. “Downton Abbey” also encouraged women to embrace drop-waist embellished dresses. Talk of the movie and the show influenced designers such as John Galliano, Marchesa, Jenny Packham and Ralph Lauren. Even still, today people are pinning wedding dresses for their “Gatsby” inspired wedding and idly waiting to dress as a flapper for next time Halloween rolls around.

The monopolization of “Mad Men” also heavily inspired modern trends. The LA Times claims Mad Men is “the most fashion-influential TV show since ‘Sex and the City.’” They go on to state AMC partnered with Banana Republic to capitalize “on the throwback style of the show” by placing posters in store windows.

Culture vs. Art

Some subcultural styles have even been incorporated and exhausted into runways and editorials. Recently, punk style has been appropriated into high fashion. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Libertine have been inspired by Vivien Westwood’s movements within the punk subcultural realm.

The resounding inspiration for Spring/Summer 2016 New York Fashion Week centered on designs of the mods. Mini skirts, A-line and baby doll dresses were apparent throughout Betsey Johnson, Jeremy Scott, and Carolina Herrera’s collections. The over compassing inspiration for Autumn/Winter 2016 New York Fashion Week was the style of the gothic subculture. With dark red and black macabre ensembles, long draping, Victorian-esque silhouettes, the gothic style was illuminated on the runway and will remain in trend until later seasons.

The appropriation of past fashions may not deduce that the fashion world will cease with creating new ideas. The art of fashion is simply that—art. Fashion and style are forms of expression, personality, thought and ideals through material. Artists draw inspiration from everything: trees, other people, food, books, even culture itself. Inspirations reflect the zeitgeist, or “spirit of the times,” of the culture.

Drawing inspiration from other time periods and subcultures show that our culture is going through the same situations, perhaps. Like many of these time periods, we are also going through a technological boom, a “prohibition” (on marijuana), wars, rise of teenage subcultures and many other societal changes. Inspirations from past trends help create new ways to create, and perhaps make things better. With history always changing and repeating, fashion changes as well. Trends may swiftly change, culture may change, yet finding inspiration from everything will always reside in the creative minds of the fashion world.

Photo by: Kyla Christopher

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