If you had to define the millennium in one word, it might be something like "forward." Progress, most notably in the technological realm, isn't stopping for a breath. Our world today, in terms of processing power, gadgets, video capabilities and communication speed would be unrecognizable to a time traveler from the '80s. It would likely boggle the mind of one from the '90s.
And yet fashion-wise, time travelers would feel much more at home. Super-flares and skinny jeans, maxi skirts and platforms, mini-dresses, knee-high boots, head wraps and "boyfriend" blazers all take their cue from decades past.
The decade's greatest fashion statement is in direct opposition to its technological one. Fashion, in this decade, is looking backward for inspiration, perhaps more so than any decade before.
Retro is everywhere, from the runways to the department stores. When you pull something new off the rack chances are pretty good it's a twist on something old, and people love it: Katherine Hepburn's high-waist, drapey wide-leg trousers minus the pleats; 1980s skinny jeans in modern color washes; '70s platforms now supporting shoeties and strappy stilettos.
And so much more. This decade is seeing ankle pants and flats straight out of the '60s, '70s-style bohemian maxis and skinny leather head ties, OTK boots not seen since 1990's "Pretty Woman," and blazers the over-40 crowd wore in high school with their penny loafers.
High fashion has helped set the "old is new again" look. Pillbox hats (with asymmetrical veils!) showed up on fall season runways. Winter haute couture featured old-school, (mostly faux) fur vests. Spring lines sported big, bold prints that call up Pucci -- in caftan cut, no less.
What exactly the heavily retro fashion movement tells us about our forward-thinking culture is up for grabs, but it seems to point to a certain, perhaps sub-conscious resistance to the "new and now" of the millennium. Where so many components of society, technology and industry are looking forward, and fast, the fashion world is decidedly reminiscent, taking pieces from the past and making them new again -- and not always all that different.
Of course, few fashion lovers will be shocked by this revelation. Fashion is, and always has been, cyclical. The past decade has simply taken it up a notch. Perhaps the early 2000s will go down as the fashion era with the confidence (and defiance?) to look unabashedly back.
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