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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Licentiate Column 19/05/11: What's Your Time Period?

Everyone has their time period. This isn't a nod to mortality - although, in the fashion world, trends only live for a few months and some careers at fashion houses, even less. Death isn't really relevant.

When a trend dies or fails to get out of the starter gate it is instantly forgotten about, until a designer runs out of ideas and decides to revive it in lieu of actual creativity. Lest we forget, bulky 70's rainbow crochet and macrame are going to be huge this winter. Apparently.

Some trends never die out. That's because they have more meat and room for maneuvering than the average twice-yearly expelling of stress-induced creative juices from a frazzled designer's brain.

The trend is synonymous to a way of life, a philosophy, a musical style or is a vital part of a rich vein in art or literature. It was not gestated by a figure in the fashion industry, but was definitely popularised by several. It doesn't belong to one person, but is eternally tied to young people - all in their teens and twenties, all growing up in one time period.

Everyone has their time period. Whether it's the one you grew up in or one you wish you were there for, everyone has one. It's half misguided nostalgia, half style inspiration and a liberal seasoning of fantasy.

One friend would have fitted in perfectly with the dying days of the debutante balls, in peach satin and white gloves, one foot in the old world and one foot looking towards a different and wholly brighter tomorrow. Another's anarchic spirit wouldn't be out of place in the Manchester of the early 80's, listening to Joy Division and A Certain Ratio, wearing forest green donkey coats and severe buttoned-up shirts.

Once, my father and I were watching a segment on a current affairs programme about 70's punk in Dublin. "You should have been alive then, Sarah", he said to me. " You would have really fitted in."

It was an observation that stuck with me, because up until then I was unaware that my father was any different at twenty than he was at fifty. In my mind he always wore suits and worked in an office and reserved his best terrible floral shirts on holidays. I never contemplated that he could have gone to see The Clash or worn drainpipe jeans or perhaps even taken some pride in looking a little bit like Paul Weller (yes Dad, I know this is conjecture, but your haircut at the time had a definite Modfather vibe).

Everyone has their time period. If clothes maketh the person, then who are you? Are you a punk? A Fab Fourophile? A 30's screen siren? A make do and mend Blitz babe? Are you into the grunge look? Or your time period the one you live in today?

What will it look like to the next generation? We only have to wait and see.