Fashion trends come back because we all wanted to be Audrey Hepburn

The reason why fashion trends come back has always seemed a mystery. Why something that, at a certain point, we thought of it as horrible, a slip, an experiment in the ever-daring and free fashion world, suddenly becomes a renewed object of desire?

One of the possible reasons, and maybe one of the most important, is that we want to wear what the people we saw as adults in our childhood and teen years were wearing. The grown ups. The cool people. Those clothes and those styles that, given our age, were not within our reach or didn’t even get our attention, but have remained in our memory and now as adults we want to emulate as a way to demonstrate that we, as well, have become adults and, hopefully, have the style and class of what it meant to be cool when we were teens.

The tendency to imitate, to emulate, paradoxical as it may seem, it’s just a way to reinforce our sense of identity. This happens even to those who think of themselves as the alternatives, untouched by trends. Nobody is immune to the influence of the world around us. We all are a combination and a consequence of the books we read, the artists we admire, the music we listen to, the trips we make, the people around us, the experiences we live… Our Life, in the broadest sense of the word, is our main influencer.

And in those teen years when we start being more exposed to that world around us and we are eager to find what makes us feel represented, our imaginary gets filled with visual references from TV shows, films, music videos… that, unconsciously, become part of our idea of what an adult woman or man who represents the values and lifestyle we identify with looks like.

And in that way, trends from a certain moment come back over and over. If we analyze the influence of films, there we have the Little Black Dress of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), the masculine style of Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977), the impossible shoulder pads of Working Girl (1988), that minimalist style from the 90s represented by Gwyneth Paltrow in A Perfect Crime (1988) or, beyond cinema, by the iconic Kate Moss in the ads and runway shows of Calvin Klein.

Men are not alien to this phenomenon. In the male domain, we find Robert Redford (all of him) in The Great Gatsby (1974), the businessman style of Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987), the aviator sunglasses and bomber jacket of Tom Cruise in Top Gun (1986) or the summery and impeccable style of Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).

The curious thing is that what for some people is a renewed trend, for some others it’s something totally new. And there the cycle begins all over again. Once the magazines, shop windows and social networks are full of recycled trends from the past, fashion gets widespread and even gets into the wardrobes of generations who have not been exposed to the same references and have a very different imaginary. Because the incredible power of fashion, both for new and recycled trends, is that when they emerge, they get anchored in the present moment, they blend into the time in which they live and each generation interprets or reinterprets them based on what they mean for each one of them. For a 15 years old girl, it may be a dress as the one Selena Gomez wears on her latest music video. For a 40 years old woman, it may remind her of Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface.

Fashion accompanies the present time and it may be a reflection of the social, economical and even political reality of the moment. But apart from showing us who we are today, fashion can also remind us who we were or who we aimed to be when we were just kids. The past always comes back and, sometimes, we are wearing it.