Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Memories, fashion and 90s nostalgia

My first article, Saved by the Bell cast, Clarissa Explains it All, Britney being sporty, Vogue 90th edition, The Spice Girls as they appeared on my news feed, Decades of Fashion.

I remember the first fashion article I ever wrote. In fact, I still have a copy. It was titled, 'The Evolution of Fashion' - a standard 'fashion through the ages and how it has changed' piece for my school magazine of which I was editor. It was December 2006 and I had just bought the book that for a significant period of time was all I read, looked at and thought about - a stubby, rather generic, image - heavy,Thames and Hudson book called Decades of Fashion. The 90th anniversary edition of Vogue came out that month too and I hungrily read every page. 

It's no coincidence that my first ever piece of fashion writing was more or less about fashion nostalgia. After all fashion is just like one long episode of Reeling in the Years; constantly looking back, smiling at the better bits and flinching at the damn right inexplicable. Nostalgia is a strange and curious thing (this is beginning to sound like the Carousel speech...),'the sentimental longing for the past' and the manner in which we wish to dress is very much knotted with our memories.

A few weeks ago, a Refinery 29 post popped up on my Facebook news feed. It read: "The Spice Girls want to give you their old clothes…we accept with a resounding OMG YES". Ten years ago would anyone have wanted The Spice Girls' teeny tiny mini dresses, tracksuit pants and platforms? I strongly doubt it somehow. 
But, how times have changed. Right now it's achingly hip to dress like extras from every crappy 90s' TV show or nauseating Julia Roberts' rom-com. Why? Because we're feeling super soppy and nostalgic, almost welling up at the mere site of a baggy jean/Doc Martens combo. 

It is curious though, isn't it? Especially since so many of us who are currently waxing lyrical about 90s' trends would have actually been too young to fully appreciate the florals and denims worn by the cast of Saved by the Bell,or Sabrina's velvet dresses and chokers, or a fresh faced Britney's casuals and  sports wear at the time. It is as though we are reliving something that we were apart of the first time around but not entirely. I was a child in the 90s. I wore colourful long-sleeved tops and fringed jeans from M&S children's department with glittery butterfly clips in my hair. The minimal beauty of Kate Moss' era defining wardrobe was quite surely lost on me. 

Yet it all comes back to nostalgia. By some means we soaked it all up, sparing it for a rainy day in the future, so to speak. Maybe, it has got something to do with how when you are little you pine to be a grown-up and later on in life you want to dress precisely like the grown-ups you thought were cool or glamorous as a child. For the twenty something now, the 90s were your childhood and that time was hopefully a happy one. And that's all we ever really want, isn't it? To go back to a time when we were happy. You might not actually have worn Doc Martens in 1996 but maybe some part of you carried an image, a memory of someone who did, an older sister perhaps, or even a TV character like Clarissa of Clarissa Explains it all.

 Fashion isn't really about trends and brands and what the latest flash-in-the-pan celebrity is wearing; no, fashion is much more about those fleeting, fluid, shards and slices of unattainable memory. 

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