December 22, 2017 by Chris Kilkus
Decoding Fashion’s Nostalgia Addiction
Nostalgia is a cog integral to the fashion machine. When elements from the Sixties, Eighties and Nineties can populate a single Gucci collection alone, for example, it’s clear that the past is woven into the present.
Why nostalgia persists is a complicated knot at least partly untangled in interviews with curators. Experts argue that cultural circumstances — including the speed of the industry and technology — have rendered backward glances almost unavoidable.
“A lot of contemporary designers use imagery as a source of inspiration. We are very much an image-based culture nowadays, and I think it’s inevitable that designers would be inspired by former fashion,” said Oriole Cullen, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s curator for modern fashion.
While perhaps more pervasive now, Jessica Regan, assistant curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, noted: “Nostalgia in fashion is not a new phenomenon. We can sit far back in the history of fashion — back to the early 19th century, which was a period of rapid industry and change — and see nostalgia for a preindustrial past, based on romantic notions of chivalry. They incorporated elements from the 16th century.”
Although nearly impossible to cumulatively analyze each era’s influence on modern-day design, curators concur that the