Back To The Future: Dizzy Heiress Is The New Black

As the red carpet at last night's Golden Globes illustrated, vintage style is still going strong.

The big look on the red carpet was straight-up 30's screwball comedy: bias-cut, slinky glamor that would have done Carole Lombard proud. Daring? Not so much. But it sure looked good. And apparently, this blast from the past was deeply reassuring on a psychological level — sartorial comfort food.

Says the FT,

The 'new nostalgia' is strikingly evident on the catwalk, as designers seek to evoke the reassuring certainties of the past amid shifting economic times....As winter deepens, fashion buyers say, customers will be taken further on a journey to decades past, with the influence of the 1930s and 1940s in evidence, along with a flurry of lace, frills, taffeta and demure Victoriana.

Everyone from Top Shop to Stella McCartney's going retro, with demure skirts and bias seams popping up everywhere.

Of course, economic downturns have often heralded as much innovation as conservatism; think Elsa Schiaparelli's depression-era fantasias; even amidst the 1970s' 40s revival, Vivienne Westwood was redefining designer style. Depending on where they stand, designers and the rest of us either have everything or nothing to lose.

We all like to think that we're above the vagaries of societal trend, but hours before the parade of neo-Edith Heads that marked the Golden Globes, I, someone who's never been drawn to 1930s clothes at all, found myself walking out of a thrift store with a depression-era green lace bias-cut evening dress (even though the Russian woman who sold it to me said it made me look "like baby" and then threw in a stained slip for free). Why? Surely on some level we all have a desire not just for a conservatism befitting hard times but also perhaps an instinctive need to contextualize things that scare us: we've seen this before, we can think, and it passed — it even provided us with glamorous fashion references! Put like that, everything's a big, manageable pageant that's within our control.

Designers Give Clothes Buyers The Reassurance Of Vintage Style [Financial Times]