Vintage clothing trend Featured

From flapper to disco queen, high fashion brings vintage style back for spring/summer 2012

Due to popular demand, vintage clothing fashion trends have made their way onto the shelves of boutiques in every major fashion city. Sienna Miller, Rachel Zoe, Nicole Richie and Michelle Williams all take style notes from the likes of Greta Garbo, M. Monroe, Dietrich – and you know how the song goes…These ladies were among the original style icons – women who were ahead of their time, defined not just by their body of work, but by the devastatingly beautiful and expensive outfits they wore to attend film premieres, high profile parties and jet set around the globe. As women began to have a greater role in society, politics and the workplace, their clothes changed with them. It was precisely at these times in history that designers created the looks that have once again come back in style.

From the glamorous twenties to the groovy seventies read on for our trend forecast on the brands who are bringing vintage back for spring/summer 2012.


Champagne soirees held in Prohibition times, silent films turning into talkies and legendary New York mobsters fixing baseball games to buy their gals the finest furs and jewels money could buy. No decade will ever match the thrill and decadence of the 1920s. With the hit HBO drama ‘Boardwalk Empire’ set in 1920s Atlantic City, a renewed interest in the period has also awakened creativity among top fashion designers.

Ralph Lauren is credited with reviving interest in the 1920s when he designed costumes for the 1974 film adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Now that Baz Luhrmann’s remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio is slated for release in fall 2012, Lauren took the occasion to create a sophisticated nouveau riche spring/summer collection rich in light hues, floral prints, feathered boas and elegant bias-cut dresses. Lauren even experiments with masculine tailoring to create pinstripe suits for women, complete with pink silk ties.

NEXT: Flapper girls in the 1920s

Socialites and party girls alike are obsessed with the flapper trend of the era – hair fashioned in short bobs with shimmering headbands, straight –cut sleeveless dresses with short hemlines, dropped waistlines and glamorous embellishments. Who better than Gucci to bring back the look since it was founded in 1921? This season the flapper reigns in art deco frocks crafted to resemble the structures of New York skyscrapers like the Chrysler building.

Also dancing the Charleston this season are Roberto Cavalli’s flapper girls clad in gold pleated tunics, Salvatore Ferragamo’s interpretation comes in a mini dress covered in bright red and violet fabric hoops, DSquared2 did a ravishing black tassel-laden number, Etro’s geometric shaped dresses were paired with slip revealing trims and Marc Jacobs’ head-hugging cloche hats of the decade accompanied his futuristic flapper looks.

Gucci SS2012 Fashion Show Report
Salvatore Ferragamo SS2012 Fashion Show Report
Etro SS2012 Fashion Show Report

It is impossible to speak about the 1920s without the mention of Coco Chanel, the quintessential Parisienne who gave women a masculine inspired wardrobe all their own. This season Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld brings back the trademark tweeds, mille-feuille pleats, feathers and cardigans.

For the travelling 1920s woman, Hèrmes does bourgeois impeccably with total colour blocked looks in white and flame orange with headscarves – a look that belongs on an ocean liner bound for the Americas. Sarah Burton continues to shine at Alexander McQueen where she crafted an ocean-inspired collection with lots of feathers and jewelled caps reminiscent of lavish cabaret performance outfits.

NEXT: The 1950s


With a crippling stock market crash and war in the rearview mirror, people were looking towards a brighter future in the 1950s. Women wanted to dress like their idols: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe who were all outfitted by the best European fashion maisons.

This season we saw fashion designers ignited by the sweet and girlish fifties flair. Prada brought the girls and cars of the 1950s to the catwalk with oversized flower-printed letterman-style jackets, lemon yellow chiffon dresses with comic caricature prints of muscle cars and pleated below the knee skirts that would agree with any high school headmaster’s ruler. Louis Vuitton unveiled its spring collection with a picture perfect set up in Paris where daintily dressed models in beehive hairdos sat atop a moving carousel. Candy colours like mint, pale bubblegum pink and baby blue went together with oversized lace collars, knee length evening jackets sans buttons and short prom dresses worn by models in tiaras.

Prada SS2012 Fashion Show Report
Louis Vuitton SS2012 Fashion Show Report

The 1950s are also alive and well at Jil Sander where retro plaid shirt dresses were revamped with transparent tulle, at Bally who had acqua-hued overcoats and A-line striped dresses, at the in-demand Italian dressmaker Luisa Beccaria’s collection, which was dedicated to fifties sweetness with cornflower blue blouse-corset mixes and crocheted below the knee dresses and at Marc Jacobs whose New York show outlined the tough-chic fifties girl with rolled up jacket sleeves and a rockabilly bandana tied around her head.

Jil Sander SS2012 Fashion Show Report
Bally SS2012 Fashion Report

NEXT: The 1960s


A change was blowing through the fashion capitals of the world, greatly due to young and talented designers who were dictating a radical new mod-style that consisted of mini skirts, sweater dresses, androgynous silhouettes, boots and pantyhose. An emerging rock ‘n roll and folk music culture blended well with these cool new threads and soon models and musicians became one in the same. Stella McCartney took a cue from the age of The Beatles by mixing up hypnotizing retro prints and teaming them with big oval sunglasses whose frame designs coordinate with the garments.

Burberry Prorsum saluted 1960s London with bead work shirts, rockstar trenches decorated with geometric shapes, and long high-waisted front-button skirts. The collection is a vintage lover’s fantasy whose show drew out celebrity guests like Sienna Miller, Kanye West and Gemma Arterton.

Burberry Prorsum Fashion Show Report

Marni also did retro right with argyle sweater vests and high-waisted 3-tiered skirts that could very well have been donned by Twiggy herself. Fendi used the trendy and intelligent Milanese woman as its muse for this season crafting outfits that can be worn by a professional and fashionable woman throughout the day – the stylish A-line lab coats and disheveled bouffant hair styles (ala Albert Einstein) on models were a nod to the scientific culture of the sixties.

Louis Vuitton’s resort collection also carried nostalgia for the strong European women of the sixties. Designed in collaboration with filmmaker Sofia Coppola, the clothes and accessories model those typically worn by actresses in the era’s cinema-veritè films as well as the vespa-driving residents of Paris’ trendy Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter.

Fendi Fashion Show Report

Louis Vuitton Fashion Show Report

On the other side of this art-house fashion movement of the 1960s was a more sophisticated style epitomized by US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy whose collaborations with Valentino, Oleg Cassini, Givenchy, Dior and Chanel are forever etched in fashion history. We spotted a matching bright pink top and floor length skirt style in lace at the new Valentino collection that looked as though it could have been worn to a state dinner in 1963. The classic tailored suits with stylized lapels and skintight trousers at Givenchy instead reminded us of a classic Faye Dunaway.

Valentino Fall/Winter 2011-12
Valentino Boutique Listings
Dior Boutique Listings
Chanel Boutique Listings

NEXT: The 1970s


The 1960s paved the way for women to express themselves freely and the most obvious way to do that was through style. As travel became more common in the 1970s, we begin to see international influences such as exotic prints, fabrics and cultural dress like the kaftan, gypsy garb and the kimono work their way into western society. The popularity of disco music and nightlife culture meant that women needed fabulous clothes to step out in.

Halter jumpsuits from Mulberry instantly achieve that seventies glam, as well as the label’s long sheer tulle dresses and skirts accompanied by leather jackets and chunky wedges. Front row at the Mulberry show were the modern personification of seventies cool: supermodel Kate Moss and actress Kristen Stewart. Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon also embraced disco glam with retro platforms in electrifying fuchsia, violet and tangerine.

Mulberry Fashion Show Report
Jimmy Choo Fashion Report

Exotic, high slit disco gowns were seen principally at Michael Kors, whose flowing leopard sarong transported us to an African safari, Elie Saab’s sparkly gowns and airy silhouettes are worthy of a young Bianca Jagger’s closet and Salvatore Ferragamo’s shiny, empire waist halter and tube dresses were ready for a night at Studio 54.

Kenzo’s new long-sleeved jumpsuits in bright blue and diamond patterns caught our attention in Paris where indie film darling Chloe Sevigny modeled the aforementioned blue number. Versace epitomized the disco diva with a collection that had everything from goddess-like dresses with plunging necklines to white and black gold studded leather jackets, skirts and bandeau tops.

Versace Fashion Show Report
Salvatore Ferragamo Show Report


Style in the 1970s could often be designated to one’s musical preference; so while disco divas were donning elegant jumpsuits and bellbottoms whilst dancing the night away to Donna Summer, the girls who loved rock and worshipped at the altar of Led Zeppelin and The Who were rocking a very different ensemble. Pucci’s vibrant blend of mini dress meets gypsy flair and Just Cavalli’s turtleneck mini dresses with suede fringed vests are perfect articulations of this generation’s style, while at DSquared2, we saw models saunter down the runway aggressively, clutching a beer bottle and wearing floor grazing wrap dresses and American flag bikinis with Navajo Indian touches like headbands that ran across the forehead and fringed vests.

Every generation has something to offer the next and fashion has left us with volumes of garments and style articles to work with. So now the decision is yours, will you be a Clara Bow flapper girl this season, a provocateur Jane Birkin, or both? Our advice is to have fun with fashion, don’t limit yourself and explore the fashion capitals to find the best of what today’s designers have to offer.
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