I am sitting in my room, scanning it like an anthropologist. What artifacts! There is a golden portrait of Nefertiti, a Venetian mask, a Nicaraguan flag, a fan from Spain, and a poster I tore from a library book about Catholic altars (I shall eventually restore that karma). I spy two wide brimmed hats (one floppy; one straw), bleached denim shorts, my grandmother’s mink stole, a fanny pack, some feathers, and some seed beads. An anthropologist would have a field day dusting sand from the remains of my over stimulating abode. But what could be deducted from all my things? First, I need to clean my room. Second, my cultural identity is a composite from other cultures and other times.
Am I wrong to form my identity from times and places that I do not fully understand? Is everyone? Think about what’s trending now: platform shoes hit the streets in the 70s, then again in the 90s; exposed midriffs came out in the 90s as well. Mod 60s shifts and ankle boots are the streamlined look du jour. Legions of beaded drop-waist dresses were shown on Spring 2012 runways in a finger-waved nod to the 20s. Magazines are quick to categorize clothing by their associated time period. Flip through one and look for text that says “retro,” “nostalgic,” and “(insert decade here)-inspired.” This practice finds comfort in what we already know and our parents and grandparents already own.
I am searching for evidence much like an anthropologist searches. I want to dust, dust, dust away the sands of apathy to uncover my generation’s cultural identity. Style is not extinct but it is a collection of past looks, revisited, and cultures, uncovered. The looks we hold on to most dearly reflect social movements. Rebellious women restructured fashion in the 20s. They bared some leg, adopted a straighter silhouette, and spoke out for women’s empowerment. The 60s shortened hems even more, then the 70s loosened bellbottoms, skirts, and ideals. No doubt we look to glory days of social change and the fashions that embodied such change. Looking back provides inspiration; the future provides glimmers of innovation. The signs of our times are not yet clear. After all, we are responsible for creating them.
(Emilio Pucci S/S 12, Louis Vuitton S/S 12, Gucci S/S 12, and Marc Jacobs S/S 12. All images via Style.com)