Recently I’ve been more and more put off by the oft-seen relentless allegiance to that ‘90s revival look. The look on its own is getting tired, but so, too is the ubiquitous need amongst young fashion types to prove to the world (but their Instagram followers will do!) that their ‘90s nostalgia getup is bona fide; that it was culled from their childhood stash of clothes in their parents’ basement.
They’ll try and convince you of their true, ’90s kid merit with comments like, “Oh, this tattoo choker necklace? This old thing? I’ve had it since 3rd grade.” They’ll have you know that the Christian Dior logo-printed saddle bag purse they’re carrying wasn’t bought on eBay, but was rather gifted to them for their sweet 16 — and they won’t have it any other way.
But it wasn’t until my hasty decision to publicize some of my long-buried and forgotten Facebook albums that my distaste for this particular flavor of looking back was solidified. Don’t get me wrong: I love looking back…on noteworthy and celebrated figures’ lives. I relish learning about people who have had a real impact on our culture, and who have shaped history. It’s the unearthing of painful memories close to home that I don’t enjoy — Hipstamatic, for instance, or an utter disregard for Halloween costumes that shield the ass. My decade-long pursuit for pencil-thing eyebrows and that Cynthia Rowley navy blue with green polka dots dress I wore to 5th grade graduation — all things I’d happily forget.
This dogged devotion to the ’90s club kid is even more perplexing when you consider the recent interpretations of our sartorial future. Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2015 collection comes to mind, with its stiff, leather jackets made of contrasting colors and almost robotically-precise cuts. Honestly: why look back when the future looks so much better? Not to mention promising too; for the future also looks like Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, and Janet Mock. It looks like C☆NDY, a fashion magazine that’s now on par with LOVE and i-D, and is wholly dedicated to the transgender community. And it looks like the faces of women who have, in the past year, come forward to share their stories of violation and sexual assault. In her interview with Entertainment Tonight regarding her Bill Cosby sexual assault accusations, Janice Dickinson was asked why she didn’t speak up about it at the time. And as she tried to summon up the words, she seemed almost at a loss — stumped, even, until she opted for the answer we so often hear from victims of sexual abuse: that she was too ashamed and scared. But there’s another reason too, one that surely dictated her decision not to speak up until now more than her shame ever could: the fact that, back then, attention was rarely afforded to cases of sexual assault. It simply wasn’t seen as serious of a violation then as it is now. And this no doubt played a part in the silence of all of Cosby’s victims.
Who wants to look back to that? And especially when we’ve come so far:
In the final pages of Milan Kundera’s Immortality, the character Paul recalls a quote, “Woman is the future of man.” What it means, he explains, is “that the world that was once formed in man’s image will now be transformed into the image of woman.”
Of course this is just one quote, and from fictional literature at that. But its immediacy and relevance is hard to ignore. “The image of woman” is the future, as Paul suggests, and it won’t look much different from how it “was once imagined: in man’s image.” Within the context of this quote, the new Balmain ad for its Spring 2015 collection feels all the more powerful; even accurate. The images depict scenes one would normally expect to see populated by men. And yet these hypothetical men are swapped out for strong and beautiful women fighting over burgers between intense rounds of Halo (or some other PlayStation 2 video game), and all while decked out in Balmain’s self-assured, curve-hugging silhouettes.
One could even surmise that the future is starting to look a bit like Raf Simons’ pre-fall 2015 Dior collection too — that is to say, like sequined turtlenecks. And feminine silhouettes that don’t immediately draw one in for its sex appeal.
Paul continues, “The more technical and mechanical, cold and metallic it becomes, the more it will need the kind of warmth that only the woman can give it.” And if he were talking about the Dior pre-fall show, he would be no less right; just look at how she imbues this futuristic, harshly metallic, neck-constricting turtleneck with such warmth:
And in conclusion, Kundera’s character adds, “If we want to save the world, we must adapt to the woman, let ourselves be led by the woman, let ourselves be penetrated by the Ewigweibliche, the eternally feminine!”