Fashion is cyclical. Trends come and go. Yet, there are a few iconic moments that remain beautifully etched in fashion history. With HELLO! clocking 15 years of irresistible glamour, here’s looking at some of the epoch-defining, seminal trends that remain relevant decades after decades…
Flared dramatically from the bottom of the calf and cut with curved hems, these jeans first made their presence felt during the ‘60s youthquake in London. Later in the 1970s, the likes of Sonny and Cher wore them for their appearances on an array of TV shows. Crafted from denim, cotton and satin polyester, they epitomised the groovy swinging spirit of the era. In the ‘90s, they made their presence felt with a boot cut or boot leg variation, with edited flares. Cut to the present. Designers like Gabriela Hearst, Givenchy and Gucci have showcased chic yet fun iterations of bell-bottoms in vibrant wool twill and with a focus on comfort-fit tailoring.
The Naked Dress
Nothing comes close to the head-turning, epochal naked dress. This sensual garment, realised in sheer fabrics or crafted with cut-out detailings, remains emblematic of seduction and body positivity. It was Marilyn Monroe who ensconced the naked dress on the map in 1962. Diaphanous and encrusted with 2,500 rhinestones, this remains one of the most game-changing looks. Later, icons like Cher, Kate Moss, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and Beyoncé rekindled its seasonless, titillating appeal with their daring take. Of late, designers have recontextualised it in their own handwriting — while Gucci reinterpreted it in a tulle lingerie-inspired format, Jacquemus toyed with it in a ruched up, beach chic variation; Balenciaga and Givenchy, on the other hand, treated it with a crystal embellished texturing. Looks like the classic is here to stay!
In the ’20s, Coco Chanel put her couture house on the luxury map by embellishing her bags, shoes and dresses with interlocking Cs. Symbolising instant brand recognition and luxury, the logo trend never faded out — be it Dior’s saddle flashing the dangling D, or Gucci’s GG canvas duffle bags or Hermès ‘H’ emblazoned on its belts. However, it was during the hip-hop movement in the ’80s and ’90s, when Harlem-based designer Dapper Dan started screen-printing leather goods with logos from Fendi, Gucci and Louis Vuitton that logomania propelled into street consciousness. The past few seasons, which include couture, ready-to-wear, resort wear and pre-fall, have seen designers and luxury conglomerates leaving no stone unturned to pepper their goods with logos. In fact, Gucci’s recently unveiled Blondie bag features the interlocking G detail from the ’70s, and Louis Vuitton’s new spin on the Speedy comes in monogram jacquard denim.
Coco Chanel had once said, “I imposed black; it’s still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.” After she gifted women with the century’s most minimal and functional Little Black Dress, or LBD, it became a uniform for all women of taste. And who can forget Dior’s New Look silhouette! His full skirts and cinched waists gave the LBD a feminine update. In 1961, Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy LBD in Breakfast At Tiffany’s became synonymous with Hollywood glamour and romance. Season after season, the LBD gets a fresh and quirky update, reimagined in chainmail fabrics, lace, leather, chiffon, and georgette.
Platforms made their presence felt in the US and Europe from 1930 to 1950. Iconic French actor Marlene Dietrich got a pair designed for her in the early ’30s by Moshe (Morris) Kimel, a Jewish designer. French shoemaker Roger Vivier sketched a platform sandal in 1937, which Elsa Schiaparelli used in one of her collections. Later, Salvatore Ferragamo unveiled The Rainbow, a platform custom-made for Judy Garland. The disco era saw them eclipsing nightclubs, with Gene Simmons and David Bowie lending them gravitas. In the early ’90s, Vivienne Westwood introduced the Super Elevated Gillie, which came with nine-inch heels that supermodel Naomi Campbell wore when she fell on the ramp in 1993. By the late ’90s, the Spice Girls embraced them with elan. Currently, with Y2K styles making a comeback, platform mules, clogs and flip-flops are having a moment, as seen on Gen Z influencers.
The Fanny Pack
Easily the oldest fashion accessory, the fanny pack first appeared about 5,000 years ago as part of the wardrobe of Ötzi, aka the Iceman, whose mummified body was discovered in the Ötzal Alps between Germany and Austria. For fall 1994, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel made this utilitarian accessory high fashion as he reinterpreted it in quilted black lambskin. During the ’90s, Supreme, Gucci and Louis Vuitton began experimenting with cross-body fanny packs, or bum bags. And of late, labels like Alyx and Dior Men made them more stylised with couture-finish detailing.
First made fashionable in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and later in the late ’90s and 2000s, these high-waist denims got a glam Hollywood makeover in the past few years. From c l a s s i c cigarette styles seen on Angelina Jolie to the throwback styles flaunted by Jennifer Lopez, the far-from-frumpy mommy jeans remain super flattering. From Anushka Sharma to Sophie Turner and Gigi Hadid, everyone seems to have fallen for these maternity denims that look androgynous when styled with a crisp white shirt. From Stella McCartney and H&M to Isabel Marant, the current iteration of mom jeans remain incredibly of the moment.
In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent created Le Smoking, or the tuxedo trouser suit, for women. Inspired by the androgynous allure of model and muse Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain, the designer lent the collars a feminine touch, narrowing the waistline of the blouse and adjusting the pants to help elongate the leg. Design houses like Armani, Givenchy, Gucci, Tom Ford, Alexandre Vauthier and Chanel also toyed with the tuxedo suit with their individualistic, inimitable touch. Though nothing comes close to the timeless precision and exactitude of the Saint Laurent tux, which was given a glam rock twist by designer Hedi Slimane, when he took over the reins of the house in 2012, and currently by Anthony Vaccarello, who’s reinterpreted it in the form of double-breasted tux trouser suits as well as tuxedo covercoat dresses.
The crop top became a distinctive look of the 1940s, often cut with a high collar, edited sleeves and styled with a high-waist midi. However, it was in the ’60s that these itsy-bitsy separates got wide acceptance, thanks to icons like Jane Birkin who’d be spotted in knotted blouses. In the mid ’80s, the crop top became bigger than ever, with the aerobics mania marked by these cut-off tees. Of course, Madonna’s mesh vest in ‘Lucky Star’ became a great reference point for generations of fashionistas. In the 2000s, Paris Hilton and Gwen Stefani flashed their taut midriffs in low-rise jeans and tiny crop tops. Currently Miu Miu, Jacquemus, Tibi, Brandon Maxwell, and Balmain flirt with crop tops, infusing them with a fun Gen z flavour.
The twin sets became popular in 1930, when knitwear designer Otto Weisz created a matching cardigan and top combo for Pringle of Scotland. During the ’50s and ’60s, co-ords transformed into the go-to work attire for women in teaching and secretarial jobs. During the 90s’ and the Y2K era, these sets transitioned to veritable vacation essentials, and currently, labels like Kanika Goyal, Zara and Love Birds have reignited their seasonless appeal in vibrant hues and dainty embellishments.
It’s hard not to succumb to the timeless allure of a sweetheart neckline dress — from the Hollywood starlets of the ’50s to the silver-screen seductresses of the ’90s. Lady Diana’s revenge dress easily remains the most-talked-about dress with a sweetheart plunging neckline. Today, labels like Max Mara, Norma Kamali, and Self-Portrait have shone the spotlight on dresses with the classic neckline, crafted in jersey, crinkled cotton, and crepe de chine fabrics.
Space-age sunglasses have come a long way since the ’60s. British supermodel Twiggy’s most iconic look was a close-up shot of an asymmetrical pair by Pierre Cardin. Even today, it’s a look that hasn’t lost its sheen, with designers experimenting with it in futuristic shades. Be it Bella and Gigi Hadid, or Lily-Rose Depp, or Rihanna’s irresistible collaboration with Dior, space-age sunnies continue to rule the runway and red carpet.
Puff sleeves can be traced back to the Renaissance era (from the 14th- to 17th-century Europe). Often called Juliet or mutton sleeves, these statement accents made their presence felt in the 1930s as a reaction to the minimalist clean cuts of the flapper 1920s. Though it was during the OTT 1980s that designers presented them with a maximalist touch. Joan Collins’ puff sleeves in the TV show Dynasty comes to mind instantly. Princess Diana’s wedding dress with statement puff sleeves, complemented by a train, was one of the defining moments of the era. And in recent years, Gucci, Balmain and designers Falguni Shane Peacock back home brought them to the forefront with magpie sensibility.
An offshoot of the Swinging ’60s from London, the micro mini, a synonym for women’s emancipation, has never had a dull moment. London-based designer Mary Quant and the Parisian André Courrèges made the micro mini a symbol of sexiness, confidence and rebellion. Yves Saint Laurent, too, couldn’t resist the allure of the mini and showcased the slim, black leather skirts in the outré ’80s, which became his key insignia. Later, Karl Lagerfeld inculcated the mini in his Chanel tweed suits. Over the past couple of seasons, the micro mini made a comeback like never before, with Miuccia Prada reigniting the craze at her Miu Miu AW’22 outing. The designer experimented with the classic in a tennis-skirt style and paired it with preppy polo tees, socks and ballet flats. The mini has also been seen eclipsing the runways of Hermès, Courrèges, Chanel and Coperni in recent times.
Over-the-knee boots swaggered their way into popular consciousness in the early 1960s. In 1962, Balenciaga’s fall collection featured a tall boot by Mancini, and the next year, Yves Saint Laurent’s couture showcase included thigh-length alligator skin boots by designer Roger Vivier. Pierre Cardin featured shiny black PVC thigh boots as part of his futuristic 1968 couture collection, too. By 1990, Karl Lagerfeld had included thigh-length satin boots in his FW Couture collection for Chanel, proposing the boots as a chic alternative to leggings. Today, over-the-knee and knee-high styles realised in faux fur, leather and vibrant hues are common on the streets of Milan, London, Paris, and New York.
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s August 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!