Thursday 21 October 2010

nostalgic fashion - mad men

A lot has been said about the fashions and style of Mad Men. Fashion-wise it is undoubtedly the most influential show around. At all of the major fashion weeks the 50's and 60's were heavily revived. Full skirts, penny loafers, head scarfs and pedal pushers walked down the runway, unapologetic of their nostalgic vibe.
In one way or another almost all design has some relation to the past. It's impossible not to. The influence of Mad Men on fashion, and the influence of fashion on Mad Men is kind of like that old chicken/egg conundrum (though obviously it was the egg, right?) so I've decided to not even try and approach that one. Instead I wanted to look at the styling in Mad Men and how that relates to a modern designer.
The attention to detail in Mad Men is outstanding, the characters aren't just dressed 'all 60's' instead they are entirely appropriate to the time, their means, personality and job. Sure as time went on it would be fun to dress Joan in the latest 60's fashions but it wouldn't be faithful to her. Joan is resolutely a 50's pin-up, she knows her style but is not interested in modern trends unlike Trudy Campbell (Joan and Trudy shown above). Every character has their own style (yes, even Peggy). Silver Fox Roger Sterling obviously knows how well his grey suits set off his hair and Pete Campbell seems assured that his (kind of hideous) blue suits set him apart in the office.
As a visual, as a brand and as characters Mad Men is nothing but utterly convincing because it conforms completely to the zeitgeist of that place and time.

However, if I was to take Joan, Betty and Trudy's wardrobes and recreate them and declare them a collection, because everyone loves Mad Men and the 60s etc, it would look weird and it would look wrong. I can say this with some experience after meeting someone who picked apart vintage dresses, made patterns and then remade them using other vintage fabrics, hung them, unpressed, in a musty store amongst real vintage pieces and charged $300 for them, it was so strange. Today in 2010 the zeitgeist is very different and whilst many of us are still influenced and totally in love with times past it's important to remember we are not in those times ourselves.
It is vital as a designer to understand your own zeitgeist and be able to reinterpret influences effectively. The past is constantly a major inspiration for modern fashion design (all types of design) but it is that ability to mould the past to fit the present that determines who is the designer and who is the person re-making old dresses.

So whether you're designing it or wearing it. Make your mark with your own style. You'd never catch Don Draper using an old idea now would you?

Fashion Friday by Evie Kemp

Photos from Mad Men (Top) and Prada's F/W 2010 campaign.

1 comment:

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