The two most memorable shows of London style week had a common theme: memories. Ryan Lo’s fantasia whip-round of clothes (ruffles and balloon trousers in sweet-shop colours) returned Pierrot. The rainbow wave was helped along by a triple whammy of music: A Uninjured New World from Aladdin, Immortality by Céline Dion and Lurch Like an Egyptian by the Bangles.
While in a mise-en-scène that counted an unmade bed and a girl cutting her own hair in a mirror, Ashley Williams’s anthology was a what’s what of a teenager’s wardrobe: a baseball jacket, hoodies, dungarees and Famous Trek-ish sunglasses. As with Lo’s show, the music – Kate Bush’s Guardianship the Ivy, Kirsty MacColl’s A New England – suggested the emotional terrain and introspection of the youth years. Both collections followed the trend for “now-stalgia”, the construct of using a patchwork quilt of memories to make something in the know. It’s big in 2016, from Stranger Things to Drake’s love of the Cheesecake Plant.
In style terms, it is a very now phenomenon, from the mood-board to the catwalk. There is Gigi Hadid’s collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger that used on 90s sportswear trends and the silhouette of Aaliyah, Vetements and Kim Kardashian’s re-configuring of the Risqu Couture tracksuit, and Christopher Kane’s inclusion of Crocs on the catwalk at London fashion week.
Nostalgia not exclusively provides us with a safety net at a time of political or economic instability, it grants us to engage with the stylistic elements at a distance. On the internet, the erstwhile is presented as a smörgåsbord of interconnected trends and pop culture moments, bonded with a new twist. Instead of a wide range of sub-cultures gallivanting around organically, styles and tastes are dictated by Tumblrs and Instagram accounts. The pre-internet age has been fetishised. Buzzfeed (45 happenings c belongings from your 90s childhood you probably forgot about) and Instagrams (such as Every kit out on Sex & the City) illustrate our bottomless need to revisit and re-evaluate visual signifiers from our childhoods.
This interconnectivity, where nostalgia meets reported fashion trends, can be seen whenever an Instagirl celebrity, such as Hadid or Kylie or Kendall Jenner, dress ins items rooted in the not-so-distant past: round sunglasses, chokers or trial denim. Or when labels such as Hood By Air and Gosha Rubchinskiy pay eulogy to retro sportswear, and new iterations of jean shape and colour recommendation the past. As our reference points bounce from the fashions in Clueless to My Supposed Life, now-stalgia exists with less ironic detachment and more joy as the architecture for fashion now.