Throwback fashion

20/gen/2017 03:42:13 Morilee Contatta l'autore

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The year 2016 has been that guest at the dinner party who just wouldn’t leave. The food has run out, the music stopped playing, there were some casualties, but 2016 was in unmatched spirits. They say it’s the year the music died, but let not the sordid end mar the entire year. It was a hyper-aware and combustible year for fashion where trends were upcycled, recycled, declared dead and birthed anew. Let us see how many of them travel with us into 2017.

The power struggle

It was the year of the pantsuit, especially the white Ralph Lauren ensemble Hillary Clinton wore to the final presidential debates in the US. Having been criticised for either downplaying her femininity to project competence in desexualised pant suits or over playing the maternal angle; Hillary was championed by her pantsuit army which also staged a flash mob in the classic attire. Already forming a lexicon of high fashion, tailored wide-leg pants with blazer are being interpreted for 2017 in everything from linen to velvet.

Fashion also tried to champion feminism, but it took one step forward and two steps back. British Vogue said cleavage is ‘over’ and famous bloggers @susiebubble and @bryanboy said Vogue is over. Rihanna, who was seen wearing the (unattributed slogan) tee ‘The Future Is Female’, launched an athletic Fenty x Puma collection catering to women to rave reviews.

The athleisure peak

Not so incidentally, 2016 was also the year we hit peak athleisure with a Chloé track pant retailing at a £1000 (₹84,000 approx). It is important to consider how sport collections are pivoting their focus from male/ sports-only gear to a whole new fashion savvy consumer (women!) who like yoga pants. Athleisure went from work out only attire to everyday chic faster than you could say Lululemon aloud.

It was also the year of the sneaker, majority of sales coming from the non-sport, designer luxury section. Adidas has always been one step ahead of the game in repackaging nostalgia, and the Stan Smith and the gazelle sneaker was ubiquitous at any fashion do. The white sneaker was the definitive shoe of 2016, even though it has been trending as far back as 2013. With the new Nike Air Max Zero releasing in 2017 in an all-white avatar, it shall go strong for years to come.

Throwback to the ’90s

Nostalgia brings us to the ’90s. In every fashion cycle there is one decade that endears itself to popular imagination. For now and sometime to come it shall be the ’90s. The kids wearing slip cheap cocktail dresses layered with sweaters surprise those of us who remember when it was cool. One would like to think the ’90s choker has come to a head but it stays worn tight around the neck.

In 2016, it is luxe with lace, cotton, and fur versions, pendant optional. Crop tops is a ’90s symptom that refuses to go away. It has transitioned from its casual mien to tailored duos with high-waist pants. While on this nostalgic trip, let’s also go to Cuba with Karl Lagerfeld since President Barack Obama eased trade and travel sanctions. May 2016 saw the entire machinery, that is the Chanel Métiers d’Art show, descend on Havana en masse. Untouched by the modern world, Cuba provides an opportunity to re-live the past while still being in the now.

So you have the vintage American ’50s style Mustangs in pops of green and yellow, making us reminisce the days of the Buena Vista Social Club; an aesthetic that will continue to influence the summer lookbooks of the future. What’s problematic is the same vintage ideal comes from having been isolated and kept away from modern developments.

Before you say ‘cultural appropriation’ we had a fierce, #blacklivesmatter power moment when Beyonce arrived in formation at the super bowl half-time show celebrating its 50 years anniversary. (Co-incidentally, it was on the same day as the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panthers.) Her costume paid homage to Michael Jackson while the back-up dancers were kitted out in panther style berets and also were photographed doing the panther salute. This was the perfect moment to leverage clothing as a way of communication when you are silenced. With Melania Trump wearing a ‘pussy bow’ blouse days within her quotable husband’s quip, and more men wearing skirts, slogan tees and rainbow shirts; protest fashion is here to stay.

Fashion update

The Met Ball, the biggest fashion event of the year, set the stage and theme for one of the biggest trends of the year “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”, and Zac Posen brought fantasy and technology together in a way no fairy godmother could. He dressed Claire Danes in a gossamer Cinderella-style gown that actually lit up all along the skirt and bust. LED lights and 30 mini-battery packs were sewn into the lining to make that happen.


Technology had a larger role to play in fashion throughout the year as Instagram became the go to interface for the aesthete. It became the discovery platform for trends despite Periscope’s tall claims. The backlash of which was Burberry, Thakoon and Tommy Hilfiger adjusting their show and retail calendar so that the ‘see-now sell-now’ collection was available for sale immediately after the shows as opposed to the standard three-six month lag. More designers are expected to follow as consumers respond to the newness of the merchandise, which becomes stale within the three-six months from show to store, while it stays on social media.

Post-colonial style

A lot of Indian designers and couturiers have already followed through on this. But it’s not all trickle down in indigenous shores as the Indian fashion week has thrown up a new aesthetic. Antithetical to the colourful, bling style that the subcontinent has been accused of, a new post-colonial style is emerging that does not need to push its heritage tag down your throat, or imitate its western counterparts. This new aesthetic involves a restrained colour palette with focus on the quality of natural fabric and dyes. This style is also anti-fit, anti-bling with an emphasis on functionality. AIFW (Amazon India Fashion Week 2016) nicknamed it “India Modern” but it is more than western-influenced clothing with an Indian tag. Brands such as 11.11, Nicobar, Anavila, Kharakapas are wearing their secure Indian identity on their sleeves, but not in the hyper-nationalist way of the ’60s. It’s a national identity that has become comfortable with itself and is a mascot for ‘desi minimalism’, niche as it maybe.


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