Sunday, April 26, 2015

Stepping Forward, Stepping Backward

    Its a curious thing about us humans; we love our modernity, but we cannot seem to keep our attention on the present, and the future.  We dip continually into our past. Perhaps its because we realize on some level that we are the sum total of all that has gone before. Perhaps its that we have so romanticized our past that it seems somehow better than how we live now.  Perhaps its that we understand that there were meritorious things about bygone times that deserve to be remembered.  And maybe its that some of us feel more cultured, intelligent, and arty if we clasp things from our elder days to us.  Likely, the reasons go on and on.  And likely too, for most of us, there are layers of reasons, as there are for nearly all our behaviors.
    Of late, with the tremendous expansion of multi-cultural interactions, the appearance and use of apparel pieces from other times, often translated, has gained a great deal of momentum.  Everywhere you go there are garments, and accessories garnered from past times.  The current vogue for Steampunk, is just one iteration of how that makes itself known, even though the way it appears was consciously meant to be a fantastical vision of a past that never was. 
In menswear lately the hipster crowd has taken to affecting skinny suspenders, porkpie hats,  deliberately antique facial hair styles, and wing tip shoes. While runways have been jammed with erzatz English tailoring looks that ape the Fin de Siecle.
The point though, is that no matter how forward thinking, how aggressively modern we might view ourselves, the call of our history is profound and inescapable.
    Its true also that in times of upheaval such as now, the past becomes more appealing as we try to find our way through our difficulties.  And, since our difficulties are globe spanning now, and affect all of us, not just one nation, or sub group, that pull is even more potent.  On some subtextual level we desire solace and refuge in our past, because we think we understand it.  Of course we don't really, not even if we are remembering a past we ourselves lived through, memory being the fluid thing it is, after all.
So, we bring our history onto us. We wrap it about us, quite literally, in the form of antique styles and retro conceptions.  Its more than just being intrigued by what was and wanting to re-imagine it for today, there is a desire to inhabit that other time, again.

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