Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Retro Rock 'n' Roll Americana

Salutations! You are about to embark with me on my exploration of one of this season's most prominent Fashion Trends. A fifties Americana. In general, this is less the ladylike fashions of last season and a more youthful and colourful 50s vibe... the type that films like 'Grease' looked at twenty years later.  So, in the spirit of the whole affair, I have put together a collection of items that remind me of 50s America in all it's forms - here's hoping the cadillac is indeed a 1950s one. Whereas I am (more or less) competent at judging what era certain clothes come from, my knowledge of cars is a lot more painfully limited. I have also included a trio of videos (with some great songs)
Off we go with a 'Bop bop-a-lu a whop bam boom!'

I will briefly look at the 1950s in two three prominent ways:

Firstly, it was a time of increased conformity and middle-class values in America, resulting in things such as the Baby Boom and due in part to the post-war affluence of the time where the all-electric home was the ideal. By 1950, about ten million homes in the USA had a television set.

Secondly, it was also a time of change (though that is, in many ways, a ridiculous statement - every time is a time of change) where Rock and Roll came to prominence towards the middle of the decade.  Fast Food Restaurants and Drive-in Theaters were built while, in Hollywood terms, the rise of the anti-hero came about with actors such as Marlon Brando and James Dean, 'the first american teenager' taking their place in female hearts. Hollywood catered to a younger generation wanting a symbol of rebellion.

Finally, it was a time of blatant white terrorism in the south (the third Ku Klux Klan, a name desormais used by several groups, began to resist social change and the self-improvement of the Blacks' by bombing transitional neighbourhoods and assassinating activists) Beginning in the 1950s as the african-american civil rights movement organised non-violent protests from approximately 1955 onwards. Politically, the cold war escalated resulting in, for example, the Korean War from 1950-1953 and the solid division of Europe into 'two camps'.

Returning to the Spring 2012 pret-a-porter collections.
At Rochas, Marco Zanini served up, what he described as, "A journey through the vortex of cinema," which, in many ways, it absolutely was - situating him neatly in the middle of the season's 50s trend. Hitchcock-esque moments with egg-shaped coats one could easily visualise on an icy blonde 'femme fatale', say Eva Marie Saint, and dresses which would not have looked out of place on Grace Kelly. However, maybe the defining point of the collection was the deliciousness of the accessories, adding the needed 50s detail, e.g. organza scarves over a demi-beehive, demi-chignon and cat's eyes sunglasses. My only qualm with the collection was a the footwear - now, I am not saying there is anything dreadfully wrong will all of it... and I have seen a review raving about it, describing it as 'especially good' but I am afraid, I was not able to shake off the feeling that a certain style of shoe in particular looked like a cross between a plastic flip-flop and something they give out in hospitals. There is, of course, the possiblity that it looks worse from the front (and the models' feet really do not help)                                                               Colours came in soft pastels, and a few delicious B&W then vibrant pink pieces. When the clothes were less silhouetted, the patterning gained prominence.
Naturally, my favourite item in this collection was the gorgeous white dress in the top right corner. Not only because it can be worn as a single piece but because I love the shape and the well-cut & defined lines. I also loved the cat's-eye sunglasses, regardless of the fact that, I believe I remember a time when I beheld every single last pair with absolute horror, although I do not recall why...  I suppose I can simply call it one of the many foolish fantasies of youth.  

At Prada, the trend was handled somewhat differently:
From the beginning, bold prints (often of the vintage cars of the 50s - muscly *insert name of car I am terrible at recognising here* with flames on their bonnets) were the order of ther day. Both shiny leather and accordion-pleated skirts made their way in abundance down the Prada catwalk.  The Midriff area (as shown in the second from the top to the left photo) was also exposed a great deal since the fashionable (and, in my opinion, stylish) waistband is high this season... and there is no reason why it should not be. If a little skin is needed this Spring, try this instead of the more commonplace belly-button area. It is just as alluring and, in my opinion, more elegant. Of course, the Prada collection has, in many ways, a younger feel than the Rochas collection but Miuccia Prada, like Marco Zanini for Rochas, also payed tribute to classical films of the era. In this case, the hilarious 'The Seven Year Itch' with the forever timeless Marilyn Monroe. The afore-mentioned accordion-pleated skirts were in many ways inspired by Marilyn Monroe's iconic white accordion-pleated dress... and this was highlighted by the fact that the models walked over a subway gate on the catwalk.
  A note has to be payed to a few other elements of every single outfit on the runway. The first of these elements is the array of amazing shoes and, though I have not posted any close-up photos, they really are something - staggering with a delightful fantasy that simultaneously manages to match the prints, on the pencil skirts in particular, perfectly! Now, if you look to the photo directly to the right, you will see another element of the 50s design at play... the gorgeous lines on this swimsuit are very reminiscent of the time, and create wonderful, alluring curves (in a very Monroe reminiscent way) At least it would, if the model wasn't so flat. Emphasising assets does not really work if you do not have assets in the first place. That aside, it is an absolutely stunning swimsuit and I simply adore this style, which is very flattering. On the right, you have a skirt and top combo showing what is, of course, an easier and looser look. You can see the accordion-pleats I previously mentioned twice.
Finally, a word for the earrings in this collection. Now, I do not really ever pay any attention to earrings. My own ears are not pierced after all and, in photos of this sort, it is easy to miss an earring. Not in this case! I simply had to mention them because I think Prada is the Spring Season Collection with the largest prominence of earrings. There were certainly some rather large, ornate concoctions with gold-rimmed gems hanging from red, ivory and venetian blue roses. The Cat's-Eye Sunglasses also made a return in this collection too.

Prada and Rochas were, naturally, not the only ones to try the 50s trend. Examples of it can be seen at Proenza Schouler (where high-waisted, glossy leather skirts with slits were presented) Nina Ricci (did wonders with the midriff) Jil Sander (a large quantity of plaid) and Marc Jacobs (pencil skirts and checked shirts) to name but a few.

Anyway, here is hoping that those of you who follow fashion can maybe be inspired by, what I perceive as, a really rather fun trend. Those of you who do not... maybe a subtle pair of cat's-eye sunglasses? ;)

Or take your cue from Marilyn in 'How to marry a millionaire' and do it with glasses - it's what Prada did in their pret-a-porter collections for Autumn 2011.

Thank you for reading (I hope I did not ramble on too much and that this makes sense. I wrote it at past midnight and really could not be bothered to check for spelling and/or grammatical mistakes. You will know why if I have substituted you're for your, and are for our... etc. Well, hopefully not that bad. Tiredness is not really an excuse to lose all understanding of the English Language.)

If you enjoyed this post, you can follow. Though you did not really need me to tell you that. Oh, and comment; that is always much appreciated even if it is negative.


Marianna said...

i love those kind of posts by you, with you introducing us to designer's their history, their significant technics and designs that make them stand out.
check out my new post called "are you curvy? embrace it!" i think the title says it all.
as always i love your comments and i am waiting for them,
by the way i wonder if u could follow me via bloglovin.
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A Bleedin' Miracle said...

Hellooo my friend! Greetings and my most hearty congratulations on your eloquent, intriguing and fascinating blog... I especially revere your excellent dissection of the Rochas collection, and your inclusion of the video of da King! I take my hat off to you with a hearty 'Hey nonny nonny and a ha cha cha!'

I will, of course, keep a tab on this. Cross my heart and hope to die.

With love from,

A Bleedin' Miracle


Monsterchen said...

oh what a freaky awesome post, i have to love it like i´m so much into the retro vibe and this post is not only brilliant and informative also very inspiring and you did really a good researching job on it.
oh and thank you to share this superfabulous rochas collection with us!
i really have to follow you now darling, cause i don´t want to miss such terrific amazing posts!
love and kiss,mary

triggermyfashion said...

WOAW..It was totally a very insightful post.
Every era had such awesome styles, impossible to erase...
rock n roll babe..

thanks for dropping by..
I'm definitely following you for more interesting read..


Suri said...

LOVE you're blog Zoe! and LOVE this post. Your obviously talented and I LOVE how you've shown more than one viewpoint of the decade!! I especially LOVE the PRADA (!!!) clothes!

el_martina said...

Hi! Thank you very much for lovely comment! just have look on your blog and it is very interesting!!! You are very positive person!

Closet Fashionista said...

Gotta love 50s style! Marilyn was so awesome (loved How to Marry a Millionaire, haha)

Stephanie said...

Great observations. I learned quite a few things from this post!

dimitri said...

Great post, so interesting as always.
I really like this style.
Great photos.

Sugar Lane said...

great post!
and cool blog, hope u follow mine ;)
thx for ur comment,
kisses from Spain,

Evelyn said...

I would just like to say that, since I came across your blog a month or two ago, I have been a keen reader. Nothing cheers me up more, and I liked this post. :)

Unknown said...

Such a fun wrap-up of the 50s trend. It will be interesting to see how much and what pieces trickle down. Fun!

xo Mary Jo

Fédorochna said...

Very interesting post! I always really like how you dont just analyse the trend, but also look at the period on a more serious note. I must admit, the 50s is not a time I am terribly interested in, both musically and fashion-wise... but you have managed to awaken my interest! For this, I thank you and encourage you to keep up this excellent blog!

Artemi said...

What an amazing post!
I just adore 50's style and makeup :)

P.S Thank you so much for the sweet comment on my blog.

Demi said...

This one is good too! And I love Monroe! She rocks! (Even in glasses)

Anonymous said...

Such an informative post! I liked it a lot. Thanks for sharing. I am loving the style with the colorful vibe and interesting prints. :)

P.S. I'm glad you wanted to follow each other. I'm following you now. I hope you follow me back!

Lots of love, B

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