Sometimes, fashion feels like a dress-up party at a kindergarten. Models would arrive looking like characters from a movie, an outlandish fiction, or a fairytale. In recent times, fiction for fashion runways has been science fiction. On runways around Europe, tall, skinny women would walk the runway wrapped in white plastic, sliver, or rubber, looking like they were grown in an alien pod or androids cloned them. Often they looked like they were rocketed in from outer fashion. This fashion category is known as retro-futurism fashion, and we’ll be exploring why it is trending in this article.
This article is a comprehensive guide on retro-futurism. We’ll begin by exploring its origin and what this unique aesthetic means. Next, we’ll explore the retro-futurism themes before diving into retro-futurism fashion, one of its genres. We’ll explore the early days of retro-futurism fashion and the most influential retro-futurism designers of our time.
What is Retro Futurism?
Retro Futurism is an artistic movement that showcases the different combinations of retro styles with futuristic technology. Therefore, it is a cultural movement that shows how the past viewed the future. This includes time travel, floating cities, flying cars, tube transportation, zeppelins, personal robots, submarines, and conquering the galaxies. Retro Futurism was created to approach a futurist’s dream and visions. Although it is pretty positive, it explores various themes of potential tension between the future and the past. It also touches on the alienating effects technology will have on humans.
The most popular themes of Retro futurism are steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, atompunk and raygun gothic. Most retro-futurists are driven by a sense of dissatisfaction with the world again. Therefore, retro-futurism contains a large amount of nostalgia.
Retro Futurism Fashion – Who Invented Retro Futurism?
The meaning of retro-futurism is linked to its earliest use as recorded in history. The first time retro-futurism appeared was in a Bloomingdale advertisement. It was in a 1983 issue of the New York Times. The ad described jewelry of silverized steel and leek grey linked for a retro-futuristic look. However, we can trace the genre’s birth to the 70s retro-futurism vibe when technology changed the world. From creating the first personal computer to an animal clone, this period featured several impressive technological changes.
Despite technological progress, people frequently wondered how the past, present, and future could preserve history, culture, and arts. Retro-futurism depicted how our grandparents viewed the future, and their fantasies became the subject of retro-futurism artwork. Today, you can find retro-futurism in designs, movies, literature, décor, music, and fashion.
The Characteristics of Retro Futurism
By now, you have an idea about this style, but certain features make it easy for you to recognize it anywhere you see it. One of its most significant traits is the name itself. It fuses retro with the future and explains what’s common amongst many retro-futurism trends. They tend to overlap and borrow from other styles around them. Therefore, this fusion of styles usually creates a stark contrast that leads to many possibilities.
- Grungy, faded aesthetics
- The availability of futuristic themes in a retro setting
- Several futuristic design touches
- A retro and vintage classic design
- Vibrant colors
- Blending distinct design trends
- A presence of technology and machines
- Several smooth and rounded geometric shapes like circles, ovals, etc.
You must note that there’s also the presence of one or two versions of this trend. One examines all the design predictions of the future that you can find in artwork from the early to mid 20th century. However, the other kind is reverse and covers an appreciation for vintage and retro elements while infusing them with futuristic or present-day technology.
Type of Retro Futurism
There’s a clear presence of retro-futurism from entertainment to retro-futurism fashion in our world. We can also understand it better through the various sub-genres reflected in it from time to time in our media. Retrofuturism is available in different currents. There are different variants depending on the theme and era you choose to focus on. Below are some of the retro-futurism styles you should note.
This dark retro-future features all the advanced technology we can ever imagine. We can find this genre in movies, video games, and comics. It is also explored in music, clothing styles, and fashion accessories. However, despite this, the world remains filled with pain, misery, and chaos because several evil organizations control the world.
This genre covers thunderbird cars, thirst-quenching soda fountains, and chunky glasses from the 1950s. However, it adds several more exciting elements to the retro-futuristic version of the 1950s. The cars fly and feature jet propellers, industries run on clean nuclear power, and city life is speedier and more fun with bullet trains. Retrofuturism fashion explores this genre as you can find several t-shirts and fashion accessories printed in these themes.
What if our life was entirely different from what we know it as? What if there was no internet or scientists to celebrate. Therefore, the alternate genre is a popular retro-futurism genre amongst writers. Consequently, it dives into changed versions of actual historical events and reveals the consequences of such histories.
Steampunk is a retro-futuristic genre that refers to a future based on the 19th century. It was when steam engine trains were available, and new industries began to emerge. From electric batteries to aspirin and camera, the 19th century birthed an era that transformed our lifestyles.
Retro Futurism Fashion
Retrofuturism fashion refers to creating clothes that showcase an imagined version of what people would wear in the future. However, the idea of futuristic clothing is now a part of retro-futurism. Past media creations are the main drivers of retro-futurism fashion. It depicts the future clothes as either space travel uniforms or dystopian survival kits. Most fashion pieces depicting retro-futurism are usually leotards and skin-tight clothes paired with plastic, army-like boots, and futuristic sneakers.
Retrofuturism fashion engages with the hackneyed stereotypes, and it recycles them as elements you can use to create a real-world clothing fashion. Retrofuturism believes that fashion reviews the past and combines different eras into a single look. Each retro-futurist fashion clothing follows a historical theme of an era and augments it with a contemporary context.
Top Retro-Futuristic Fashion Designers
There have been top fashion designers that explored the retro-futuristic trend. This includes the luxury brands explaining why this style is now trending on runways. Below is a list of the top retro-futuristic fashion designers to look out for.
In 1964, Cardin released a collection he tagged the cosmocorps because it featured an astronaut-like look. This collection included jumpsuits with asymmetric zippers, for instance. Additionally, stylistic elements replaced stiffly-collared shirts that were fashionable then. Cardin’s collection was so successful that NASA commissioned him in 1969 to design a spacesuit for their actual space travel. Despite this, most people believe Courreges’ founder Andre is the father of Space Age fashion and not Cardin.
However, Cardin achieved something with his collection that most designers did not. He was quite the idealist, and this was reflected in his works. He sold the future as a more inclusive place.
Paco is a part of retro-futurism fashion, and most people know the brand’s polished chainmail. Back in the 60s, the brand was a favorite of Francoise Hardy and Jane Birkin. However, Paco Rabanne diverged from its retro chainmail minis over the years, making it a staple in the Space Age. Since Julien Dossena joined the Parisian label in 2020, the brand tasked him with returning it to its heydeys.
Dossena was able to reel it back through a collection that was a Jane Jetson fantasy in every way. The same was the case in Paris, where Maria Grazia Chiuri returned to mod references, graphics, and reflective fabrics that recalled the positivity of retro-futurism.
Recently, the brand’s Pre-Fall 2022 range explored a sort of groovy youthfulness. Like Cardin, many contemporary designers crave the optimism of an idealistic future. When there are uncertain times, retro-futurism fashion can serve as an antidote. Therefore, this style embodies the idea of liberation and freedom in the future. It gives people the hope that the future is full of potential and quite exciting. The simplicity comes with retro-futurism that aligns easily with the growing interest in nostalgia.
Versace is another reason why retro-futurism is trending. Their Fall 2021 collection was quite different from other seasons. Versace’s collections are known for their ultra-glamorous sex appeals. However, the 2021 collection featured a modern and 70s-inspired lineup. For instance, it featured bold geometric prints, vibrant colors, and sharp angles. The pieces in this collection also exuded sophistication and youth, which represented the energy of a post-pandemic world.
On the runway, models navigated a wooden maze, an ode to the new La Greca monogram. This pattern characterized most of the collection’s dresses, scarves, coats, and silk bandana scarves. They were also available in red, brown, blue, tan, orange, and olive color combinations. Although the brand still explores its heritage of overt sexuality, it does it more subtly.
It is usual for humans to drop their complex hopes and dreams in the future. Therefore, retro-futurism fashion isn’t always as cheery as we expect it to be. In creating retro-futuristic fashion, nostalgia pieces become fetished, as noticeable in Marine Serre’s clothes and her alien unitards. Her complex visions blend retro-futuristic features like sleek minimalistic shapes with sustainable messages and upcycled fashion. Most of her unique presentations shed insight into catastrophic scenarios caused by climate change. It also explores the dangers of environmental destruction.
Retrofuturism fashion is making a comeback. This style continues to construct aesthetics in the future while implementing new visions in consumer culture. Most fashion collections feature a theme in retro-futurism as it continues to morph. As this style continues to evolve, new genres will appear and shape the future of retro-futurism fashion and culture.