Style File: What goes around comes back around

Gemma McFarland

This year, designer Betsey Johnson celebrated 30 years in the fashion business by concluding her fall 2008 fashion show with a walk of archival pieces from years past. The parallels between the past and present forms were conspicuously illustrated.

Johnson’s 1978 bloomer suit bore a strong resemblance to the cocktail dresses currently being sold at Express and Urban Outfitters. The hot pink sheath from 1985 could have easily been found in a 20 year old’s closet, hanging next to a fuchsia mini dress from last summer and an oversized v-neck sweater. The lurex leggings, had they been paired with Ugg boots or Nike Shox as opposed to patent platforms, could have easily been spotted on young ladies at the library or athletic center.

History repeats itself and the fashion world is no exception. Members of this generation are continuing to emulate style from past trends and are sporting the spandex to prove it.

Look at the social impact of denim – a fashion staple that is widely accepted by all.

At one time, straight legged jeans were only worn by soccer moms, bellbottoms by hippies, wide legged jeans by skaters, and high wasted styles by sailors. Now H&M carries everything from wide legged sailor pants to the skinniest of skinny jeans.

This past year in fashion has served as a stage for designers to update silhouettes of decades gone by. Michael Kors’ Spring 2008 line was a march of jetset glamour, bringing back styles of the late 70s and early 80s. To the sound of Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu,” models walked the runway wearing white shorts, tennis shoes with glistening accents and aviator sunglasses. Think tennis meets cocktail hour with gold and bold accessories, stilettos and sweaters.

The hippie has made a comeback this spring as well, as the Nina Ricci spring 2008 line put feathers, t-shirts, draped cardigans, chiffon and denim together for a new take on sloppy-chic. Make this look your own with feathered headbands or chiffon-style scarves found at Urban Outfitters and vintage t-shirts from the Goodwill.

But vintage doesn’t necessarily mean sloppy. Christian Dior designs were reminiscent of the clean-cut era of the Kennedy “Camelot” craze this fall. With hair notably inspired by Raquel Welch, an American actress reaching fame in the 1960’s, models were dressed in a-line skirts and box jackets with large covered buttons, fur coats and bubble dresses.

Ever wonder why your sixth grade science teacher had the same flat leather boots as you do now? It’s not because she shops at Luella nor is it that she’s fashionably clairvoyant. It’s because she’s had the same pair since 1981.

Snippets of history can be found in any fashion line and at any retailer. Flapper headgear and fringe, structured doctor’s bags, giant sunglasses, bedazzled flats, brilliantly printed bubble dresses, tooled skirts, cotton tunics and bold accessories (to name a few), have proven twenty first century style to be a tangled web of re-celebration.