Thursday, September 19, 2013

No Such Thing As A New Idea

Anyone who has ever paid even the slightest bit of attention to fashion has probably noticed that almost everything "new" takes some kind of influence from something in the past. For example, at the time of Jane Austen, the early 1800s, there was a style called "Empire waist", it looked a lot like this:
Fashion sketch of an Empire Waist
You'll notice that that dress looks an awful lot like the ones in this image:

This, however, is not a fashion sketch from the around 1815. No, this is an illustration of women in Ancient Greece. Now why do these two sketches look so similar? You guessed it rockstar! The fashion leaders of Jane Austen's time were influenced by the Ancient Greeks. In this case, Napoleon Bonaparte's wife, Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais, had a particular affinity to Ancient Greece and thus introduced this style, and being rich and french and famous, she was able to get everyone else to follow her–just like how our good friends over in Hollywood are able to convince the rest of us poor sheep to follow their style advice, whether or not it is actually good. 

Anyway, the same thing is happening today. I have been scanning through all the different fashion shows that are part of New York Fashion week and London Fashion week and Paris and Milan and whatever other city is having a fashion week (Tangent: really, they should stop adding fashion weeks. It's just getting ridiculous. Next thing we know Wonderland will start having fashion weeks!!) and I have been noticing how many times a look comes up that just reminds me of some other time. Believe me, it is quite frequent.

Why is this happening? Is it possible that designers have run out of new ideas? I don’t think so. I’m sure they have plenty of creative juices left. It is my belief that there is a pervading sense of nostalgia infecting society today. Now this is just my individual belief, but I think that because we are so unsure of what the future holds and what with all the new technologies that seem to come out every day (like the colored iPhone! What is this madness??) many of us wish we could return to a simpler time. We wish we could return to a time pre-internet, pre-cell phones, pre-the-impersonality-created-by-today’s-technologies. However, that is impossible. We don’t have time turners and can’t go back in time. So we have to compensate in any way that we can, and in the case of designers, they do it in the form of designing clothes that are inspired by the past. Who knows? Maybe when they get bored of reintroducing the past century, they’ll bring back corsets and bustles? Or maybe in a few years we’ll be wearing leaves and loincloths. That I would love to see.

So, really there is no such thing as a new idea, because every "new" idea is simply just a reinterpretation of an old idea, but really it's all the same in one way or another. Just like all those movies and books about two people from different families and they aren't allowed to love each other but they do anyway and then people die. Yeah, they're all the same. 


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