Fashion week often focuses on the future, but designers in New York this season are being nostalgic, with echoes of the 2000s and ’90s echoing through the Big Apple.
Fendi kicked off the first day of fashion week with an anniversary show celebrating 25 years of Baguette. The original It bag rose to fame in 2000 when Sex and the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw was forced at gunpoint to deliver the purple sequined version of her. “Give me your bag,” the thief yells. “It’s a baguette!” Carrie groans.
In tribute to the Baguette legacy, Fendi Womenswear Artistic Director Kim Jones invited friends from the fashion house, including Marc Jacobs and Parker, to present their own interpretation of the shoulder bag at a star-studded event. . On the same day, Gen Z’s beloved Marc Jacobs subsidiary line Heaven launched a campaign starring ’90s TV stars like Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson and Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan.
Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘Baguette’ by Fendi at the V&A in London on December 8, 2020. Photograph: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
On Sunday night, Tommy Hilfiger will return to town after a three-year hiatus. Hilfiger, who dominated the scene in the ’90s, said: “This is where fashion, art, music and entertainment came together when I started… It’s the perfect expression of what we stand for while paying homage to our roots.” .
Throughout the pandemic, millennials and Gen Z have embraced late ’90s nostalgia and this devotion shows no sign of abating. Emily Gordon-Smith of trend analysis agency Stylus has been following the trend. “It’s intensifying even more and it’s becoming more nuanced,” she says. “For the young cohort, it seems like those decades were better, simpler times.”
The 90’s theme is everywhere in New York. On the newsstand, W magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary with issues starring ’90s models Cindy Crawford, Iman and Shalom Harlow. On billboards, Kate Moss’ daughter Lila appears in a Calvin Klein campaign, 30 years after Moss first modeled for the brand, while Jerry Seinfeld headlines a campaign for streetwear brand Kith. On screen, the Sex and the City spin-off And Just Like That… is back on track, such is the appetite for its high drama and even higher heels.
There is also a noticeable shift towards more streamlined silhouettes. British designer Roland Mouret, who has dressed everyone from the Duchess of Cambridge to Beyoncé in her signature bodycon dresses, is experiencing a resurgence. After going into administration in 2020, his label was acquired by the SP Collection group. On the high street, Zara has launched a collaboration with 90s designer Narciso Rodríguez. Known for his slip and tube dresses, he dug into his archives to bring minimalism to the masses.
The trend is also evident in the next generation of designers. For example, Conner Ives and Miss Sohee are both part of The Vanguard, a Net-a-Porter initiative that aims to champion and support new talent. Form-fitting silhouettes and shimmering crystals feature heavily in her designs. Your references? The Y2K era they grew up in.
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Behind this trend are social networks. While previous generations had to wait to see their favorite celebrities in magazines, Gen Z has an archive at their fingertips, helping them create nostalgic editions, with a number of old Instagram accounts like @90sanxiety. Think Polaroid snapshots of the Spice Girls and Pap smears of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Second-hand sites like Depop have created a wave of sellers that also appeal to this cohort. Some specialize in Y2K labels like Blumarine, Morgan and Kookaï.
With brands trying to juggle issues like sustainability, Gordon-Smith says there’s often less time for creativity. “Nostalgia touchpoints are simple design cues. Even places like Zara can look at their own archives and resurrect pieces. There are so many paths that brands and consumers can explore, it’s a complete labyrinth of nostalgia.”