Recently, I’ve found myself slightly obsessed with fashion’s recurring tendency to reference earlier decades. Different from today’s mishmash of nostalgia, Instead, I’m thinking of those brief moments (in the past) that romanticize and riff off of the idea of a different, slightly older past. What it says about human nature, about creativity, and about how we want to dress. The 1960s returning to the lean boyish dress silhouettes of the 1920s, or the iconic 1980s powersuits – referencing women’s suits of the 1940s. On Pins and Needles published a great series, Uniformed Individuality: Military-Inspired Fashion of the 1980s, which does a phenomenal job highlighting some examples of this.
This doesn’t only happen in fashion, of course. One example in the world of illustration is Guido Crepax’s hommage to Louise Brooks.
From my first encounter with the Italian illustrator’s work nearly a decade ago, I had always been intrigued. But the raw eroticism was a little on the shocking side for me when I was younger, and it wasn’t until I came across one of his books when I worked at a used bookstore in 2010 that I began to seek out his work more actively.
Soon after, I met his fresh young character, Valentina, and was hooked.
It wasn’t surprising to quickly discover that this modern sixties character, a sexually liberated intellectual fashion photographer, was directly inspired by (my favourite silent film actress) Louise Brooks. Not only that, but Guido Crepax wrote letters to her, and – much to his surprise – she wrote back! They corresponded up until her death, in 1985.