Designers Pick Favorite Decades in Fashion

Every designer has referenced style from the past at some point in his or her career. WWD posed the question, “Do you have a favorite fashion decade?” to designers across the fashion capitals. Here are their answers:

Giorgio Armani: “Personally I believe the Eighties have been the richest and more vivacious period for international fashion. It was a moment of disruption and experimentation and only thinking back to the first years of that decade is always an emotion for me, for what they have meant to me and my work. In sync with my personal taste, I am extremely fascinated by the Thirties, which have often inspired me. They were years of emancipation, which defined a new concept of luxury and elegance, perhaps the most refined decade of the last century.”

Marc Jacobs: “I don’t know what’s my favorite decade. I like the Seventies, I guess, probably because I grew up in the Seventies, and it’s when I started to become interested in fashion. I like the styling, and there are lots of different looks within that period. I like the Sixties, too, I like the Twenties, I like the Thirties, I like the Forties. But the Seventies are when I came into the realization that this is what I wanted to do. So I probably felt the most connected to what was going on, and I looked at clothes more than I ever did before. So it was probably within the Seventies that I learned about the other decades in fashion. And it’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to be; this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

Donatella Versace: “It’s hard to choose, only because I would either have to say the Nineties or the 2020s.. The Nineties because it was so fun to change everything with my brother and the 2020s because the world as we know it will be completely different.”

Karl Lagerfeld: “No. I hate them all except now. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no if you start that business, you are lost.”

John Galliano: “The present Decade that I navigate in calmer waters. This may sound bizarre as so much has happened on a personal level and in the World at large, but I marvel at these current connections and realizations and I am so grateful.”

Pierpaolo Piccioli: “I don’t really have a favorite decade [in Valentino]. In general, it’s impossible. It depends [on when you ask]! Right now, I really like the moment between the late Seventies/early Eighties, the moment when everything was changing, even though it was a confused moment, very similar to today. What I liked about this moment is the energy, the creativity, the possibility to react to that confusing moment. I think that [ today] is kind of similar: something is changing, you don’t really know what is going to change, but reacting with creativity, with optimism and facing with awareness and lightness is the key.”

Michael Kors: “I’ll always have this love for the late Seventies, when the rules had loosened a bit, both for fashion and for life. The era was a great blend of high-octane glamour and laid-back ease.”

Alber Elbaz: “My favorite decade is the next one — the one you don’t have to follow.”

Sarah Burton: “The amazing thing about McQueen is that there are so many decades and they kind of somehow mash together. [Spring 2018] is quite Fifties — Fifties and Victoriana mixed together. But [favorite]? I don’t know; that’s a very good question.”

Tory Burch: “I have always loved the late Sixties, early Seventies. There was a nostalgia for the Twenties and Thirties — a sense of ease and freedom to experiment. It was the era when classic American sportswear came into its own.”

Anna Sui:Yes, Sixties. This was the Youthquake, the era of optimism, the revolution of music, fashion, film and youth culture. The possibility that everything was about to change. Love is all you need, Give Peace a Chance, War Is Over. It was a beautiful moment when this all seemed possible.”

Phillip Lim: “I love the Forties and the Seventies. I think what they have in common is this kind of liberation. It’s like there is this personal sensuality that started to come out and you get a lot of elegant characters.”

Rick Owens: “Oh, easy, the Thirties…My aesthetic was mainly formed by black-and-white Cecil B. De Mille lurid bible epics, seen through an art deco filter.”

Riccardo Tisci: “I love the Nineties for the freedom of expression, and for the street injection in luxury and design world.”

Joseph Altuzarra: “The Seventies. It feels like the sexiest decade to me. Probably because I missed it, but I definitely have a very romantic idea of the Seventies.”

Clare Waight Keller: Now I’m kind of looking much more at the Eighties, I have to say. And the thing for me, Chloé was something that was a little less my own personality, my own taste, which probably people don’t realize because it’s maybe my biggest-profile job. I started out in the Nineties wearing black for about 10 years. And so that sort of idea of who I am here in Paris is really different to who I actually am as a person and as a designer. That’s the thing that’s been really exciting coming here, is that I can put a lot more of me back into it. Eighties more [than Nineties] because that’s when I really explored fashion more, because I was growing up through it. The Nineties is when was working in fashion. So it was Eighties.”

Isabel Marant: “Weirdly, I would say the Twenties. You can’t really feel it in my collections, but I feel it was a period that was very joyful, where people could really express things that weren’t before. Artistically, it’s a very interesting period.”

Diane von Furstenberg: “I love the style of the Thirties for fashion, for architecture and interiors. For fashion it represents modernity and timeless freedom for women. The movement, simplicity, fluidity and glamour of the Thirties never go out of style and continue to inspire. Same thing for the Seventies — breaking rules is always inspirational!”

Stella McCartney: “They were all magnificent — and all horrible. I’m truly inspired by them all. What I love is the good and the bad of every decade.”

Christopher Bailey: “The Sixties were such a transformative and pivotal decade for not only fashion, but for creativity as a whole in the U.K. It is a period I go back to often when starting to think about new collections. We have the most extraordinary shots in our archive from a campaign taken at The Hayward Gallery in London when it first opened in 1968, which are so true to the spirit of that era. What I love in particular about the images is how directional they must have been at the time, but also how relevant the shapes, colors and overall attitude are today.”

Angela Missoni: “The Seventies for its sense of freedom and revolutionary ideas.”

Yohji Yamamoto: “The end of the Sixties because people started stopping haute couture, and they started ready-to-wear. It was a very important moment. The second moment is now.”

Natacha Ramsay-Levi: “For sure, I could say it’s the Seventies. But I’m born in the Eighties, I love the Nineties, I started fashion in the 2000s. I wanted to refer to the 2000s [for the debut Chloe show]…To me it was important to say, okay, this is when I started in fashion, and when I started to be open to all this world. I really like everything. I like to change. Dressing is a way to express your personality, and honestly, this depending on the day, you dress the way you want.”

Jonathan Saunders: “The Twenties. There was so much change, industrialization, Bauhaus, so much innovation.”

Narciso Rodriguez: “That’s a tough one. I grew up obsessed with the Thirties and the Forties. Women like Dietrich and Garbo had such incredible style; Art Deco and design were so important, and everything revolved around these singular iconic things. But I also love and am obsessed with Fifties and Sixties Modernism. Two very different things.”

Julien Dossena: “I love the Nineties. I love Seventies for the more relaxed feeling.”

Gabriela Hearst: “I have two: Early Thirties and Swinging London mid to late Sixties. There was a hedonism and freedom of thought. Swinging London was bubbling with incredible music and culture, it was in the air. They both represent freedom after dark periods with both world wars.”

Roland Mouret: “The Eighties because I lived it, and learned from it. It was a time when people were relevant because they were talented, when body image was irrelevant, when there was acceptance and diversity and when people’s differences were celebrated. My own life was made richer in those years.”

Erdem Moralioglu: “The Thirties. I love the idea of how things were cut and the wonderful purity of design — and I love Vionnet. The era was less about the underpinnings and very much about the body and the manipulation of the silhouette.”

Christopher Kane: “The Forties. Simply because it was a new beginning after the war, 1945. Everything was so new and everyone started from scratch — the silhouette, the architecture, the interiors. Everything was such a new look. I think to this day that was quite revolutionary.”

Stefano Pilati: “My favorite decade in fashion is the Sixties. It was a decade of hope, revolution, progress, equalitarian achievement, social questioning, peace and wars. Rebounding from the post-war era, there was a need for breaking barriers and experimentation — a desire to push the imagination toward the future and modernity. YSL, Courrèges, Cardin, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Chanel and Givenchy were pioneers of a fusion between male and female, innovation with classicism, elegance with a twist, a play on re-proportioning the silhouette, a decodification of the bourgeois rules. Fashion went hand-in-hand with music, and music and films with politics. People traveled more than before, and ethnic influences started to be mixed with Western clichés, and fashion photography discovered fascinating and glamorous locations and scenarios. Certain codes invented then are still relevant now.”

Alice Temperley:  “The Seventies. I was born in 1975, and my life’s soundtrack is a tribute to the music genius of this decade. I cannot travel by car to my house in Somerset without songs like ‘Suzanne’ by Leonard Cohen or Jimi Hendrix’s guitar riffs in the background. I have a lot of vinyls, and I am often inspired by the amazing illustrations and photographs on the covers. The sense of freedom, energy and rebellion from that decade flows in my veins.”

Andrew Gn: “My favorite fashion decade would be the early 20th century. This was the time when designers sensed a wind of change, and not only decided to go with the zeitgeist but made it their mission to re-create the modern world. And we’re not just talking about a modern world, but a completely new way of dressing.  More than ever clothes became not only a means of self-expression but a tool to show individuality, sexuality and politics.”

Huishan Zhang: “The Sixties. There’s something modern and something old about the era that transforms into something new. Energy-wise, I really like the era. There’s something refreshing, positive and energetic about it.”

Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos of Peter Pilotto: “We are currently interested in the Seventies as a point of reference. Our spring 2018 collection was really informed by the color palette and the mood, seen through a modern lens, by way of Japan.”

Mary Katrantzou: “My favorite decade in fashion is the Sixties, spearheaded by Andy Warhol’s iconic Pop Art movement. The mixture of high and low culture combined with the absence of hierarchy infused with a Technicolor palette, make the diversity and anarchy of this decade an incredible rich vein of inspiration.”

Molly Goddard: “It has always been the Seventies. I really like the idea of those kinds of parties with a shag pile carpet and martinis. And good dresses and good makeup and good jewelry. And maybe a swimming pool. That’s what I like.”

Lisa Perry: “With a nod back to my love of Sixties vintage, [my aesthetic]  is about timeless, classic shapes and fabrics that I feel live on. I like to bring this look that I love that was so modern at the time to today’s women. [The designers of that era] were visionaries. I want to celebrate that in what I do.”

Christian Wijnants: “The Seventies. The idea of peace and love, of something positive. Something also related a little bit to new, this kind of freshness, of utopia of a better world, of peace. Even the naiveté. It’s also the decade I was born in, so it’s the one I relate to. I really like the warmness when I think about. It’s something easy. The fashion too, the trench, the wider pants, the wider looks, the contrast with very short things…Baba cool.”

Marianna Rosati of Drome: “I love the early Nineties. I feel like there is a vibe in women that is really strong. There was a confidence that got lost in the decades. It’s when the women started having careers. Before they were housewives — revolutionaries and rebels too — but in the Nineties, they started having a development as a woman with a job, with a real life. They became managers at the office as they were managers of the family.”

Alexandre Mattiussi of AMI Alexandre Mattiussi: “The Nineties. I like the idea that in the same decade you had the craziness of brands like Versace and Thierry Mugler and at the same time the beginning of minimalism with Prada, Helmut Lang and Raf Simons. I was 10 years old at the beginning of the Nineties and was a student during the Nineties. When I came to Paris at age 17 to study at the École Duperré, I was really into that; there was Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent, Helmut Lang [was having its moment], and Calvin Klein with the Kate Moss thing. It’s very inspiring for me still today because I think have a balance between something that is very clean and simple, but at the same time I love crazy colors.”

Elie Saab: “Me, in my heart, it’s the Seventies. I adore that period, because at that time, I was a child and I was looking for everything. It’s my favorite.”

Massimo Giorgetti of MSGM: “My favorite decade is definitely the Nineties because they had a huge impact on my personal growth. What I like of the Nineties is that they are not so precise in terms of style as other decades…there was actually a bit of everything. In particular, I like the period from 1995 to 2000, which is very different from the previous one. That period is also directly linked with my music passions — the Brit-rock and the indie.”

Simon Holloway of Agnona: “Possibly the Eighties because it is when I grew up. At that time, I was constantly flying between America and England and I was reading all those amazing magazines, such as Interview, Details, Bill Cunningham’s reviews of the collections and, in Europe, British Vogue edited by Anna Wintour and Tatler with Michael Roberts. It was a very good magazine moment. And there were those incredible individuals, such as Azzedine Alaïa and Claude Montana, and everything was just extreme and visionary.”

Marco de Vincenzo: “My favorite decade is definitely the Eighties. The strength of the Made in Italy, the feeling of having the chance to be part of that, the maximalism, that contagious ostentation of personal success…And then, at the end of the decade, the rising minimalism and the idea that beauty can and must constantly change.”

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