05/08/2023 General News
‘Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.’ So said Vivienne Westwood, one of Britain’s most important ever fashion designers. And it is certainly true that designer clothes have always been a source of fascination and enthralment, writes Angeal Marshall.
We tend to think of the textile fashion world as very ephemeral, with clothes which are ‘in’ at any given moment very quickly becoming outmoded. But to quote another designer, Yves Saint Laurent, ‘Fashions fade. Style is eternal.’ The fact is that truly stylish clothing will always be in demand, no matter how long ago it was actually at the height of fashion.
In the saleroom, we are seeing a real resurgence of enthusiasm for vintage and even antique clothing. And people are buying these garments not as museum pieces, but to wear. So why, in the transient and fickle world of fashion, is this demand growing?
Partly it is the desire to wear statement pieces, at a time when much High Street fashion is actually quite bland. Partly it is a reaction to the wasteful ‘fast fashion’ trend, and a realisation that giving clothes a ‘second life’ is a much more sustainable approach to kitting out our wardrobes.
But mostly it’s because classic designs from the past do have a timeless elegance about them, which transcends the fleeting moment of catwalk fame, and lends them that eternal style.
Keys’ Fashion & Textiles Sale later this month – our first for some years – has lots ranging from late Victorian to very recent, with some big name designers including Versace, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton.
While the older items are probably going to end up in museum collections or costume department, many of the clothes on sale will be bought by people to wear. Proving particularly popular are garments from the late 1980s and early 1990s.
You could be forgiven for thinking that it will be mainly people who were in the prime of youth during this era who will be bidding on lots such as a 1980s Hugo Boss suit, perhaps to relive their younger days. But in actual fact, much of the interest is coming from younger buyers who were not around when these clothes first hit the catwalk, but who are attracted by the retro vibe and the fact that these garments will stand out today.
Another lot which is causing a stir is a classic Laura Ashley dress from the 1970s. Started in the 1950s, Laura Ashley’s heyday was the 1970s and early 1980s, before her untimely death in 1985.
Her design language harked back to the past, with elaborate decoration, which is perhaps why it fell out of favour in the 1990s as women embraced more minimalist dressing. But in a classic fashion ‘full-circle’ turnaround, that distinct aesthetic is once again being embraced, and the level of interest in this dress is striking.
Whether it’s mid 20th century ball gowns being repurposed as modern-day Prom dresses, top hats being bought for the dressing-up box, or instagrammable vintage pieces being worn to make a statement, the one thing that never seems to go out of fashion is fashion itself.
Keys Fashion & Textiles Sale takes place on Tuesday 15th August.