Classic 20th century looks have become touchstone inspirations in contemporary design. While the originators of these looks—Cristobal Balenciaga, Vionnet and Yves Saint Laurent—surely contribute a large part of the inspirational DNA to collections in recent years, there are other ingredients floating around in the zeitgeist. Among the retro trend’s key components is a nostalgic evocation of Hollywood—not its red carpets, but the films and shows that define the industry built around it (and which defy LA’s casual chic stereotype).
This cultural love of classical looks is mirrored both on screen and off. From Mad Men-esque beehive hair, red lips and secretary suits to the bevy of ‘30s silhouettes and retro pilot references following the Amelia Earhart biopic, Hollywood and fashion designers are constantly reveling in traditional trends. For summer 2012, ‘50s and ‘60s staples like full skirts, little cardigans, pencil skirts, sheath dresses and narrow, ankle length pants were seen everywhere from Milan (Prada, Fendi, Marni, Dolce & Gabbana) to Paris (Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior) and New York (Proenza Schouler). And with Michelle Williams playing Marilyn Monroe in the November release My Week With Marilyn, (set in the summer of 1956), we expect a slew of platinum blonde locks and heavy eyeliner in magazines for months to come. The question of who inspired whom—Hollywood on the fashion world or the other way around—might never be answered for sure, but their inextricable influence on one another cannot be denied.