It seems like this retro vibe is everywhere lately. And not a revival of the 70s kind of retro, but the 1920s, 1940s …. I can hardly go a day without hearing someone mention how much she loves Downtown Abbey. The flapper look made a return on the spring runways. And that Jason Wu for Target collection, now the it has been released in its entirety … peter pan collars, pleats, prim and proper. Sending women back at least 60 years. There’s a reason I didn’t leap to discuss the collection once the full cookbook was released. The few things I had already discussed were pretty much the whole story.
In her review of the Golden Globes for WWD recently Bridgette Foley bemoaned the boring, simple, prettiness of the Golden Globe fashions. Generally when styles come back, they come back with a twist that makes them modern. The Louis Vuitton collection for spring has just enough twists to make it interesting, is sufficiently self-aware to be brilliant. But looking around, what’s particularly striking is how much plain old, retro, throwback, prim pretty there is. Without any irony. Without any modern twist. That was Foley’s problem with the Golden Globes, and I think it’s my problem with the bulk of Jason Wu for Target collection.
Take one dress alone and it’s kind of cute, but taking the collection as a whole images June Cleaver, Jan Brady and Joanie Cunningham start flashing through my mind (yes, I know we’re talking different eras there). What’s up with that? What happened to edge? I know it’s hard to work and raise kids, many women struggle to justify staying home and to figure out what that means for their identities and sense of self. And it should be possible to stay home without feeling that you have to apologize for it. But does that really mean becoming June Cleaver? I hope not. Jason Wu is a beloved designer of Michele Obama. The first lady and Kate Middleton may still need to follow certain outdated rules of propriety. It doesn’t mean the rest of us should. Sweet and pretty, not tongue in cheek but dead serious, just that, nothing breath the surface … I don’t know if I can take it.
(I have to say, the Missoni for Target collection, Jason Wu’s collection, Versace for H&M, and just about every other collection feature a multitude of scarves. I actually bought one from the Missoni collection because it was pretty. But I can’t figure out what the hell to do with it? Who wears scarves in 2012? How do you wear a scarf in 2012 without being too obnoxiously retro? I don’t get it.)