Sunday, 27 September 2009

Retro Today

By Oyindamola Lawal
IN recent times, the fashion trend, especially among ladies, is tending towards a complete embrace of what obtained decades back. Traces of styles from the generation of our mothers in the 60s have been creeping back into reckoning. Whether colourful or drab, fashion forward or laid-back, tailored or relaxed, designed or tie-dyed, the 60s fashion was simply exciting; it was a smorgasbord of styles which affected every facet of life and strata in the society.
The other styles that dominated the 60s fashion were in a lot of ways more of a departure from what had been the status quo. Dresses continued to lead the ladies fashion scene, encompassing many of the fashion styles from street casual, feminine to cool mode. But the key characteristic for dresses this season is definitely the prints, taking 60s-80s retro designs including stripes, geometric, optical, large flower prints in distinct and vivid colour for the mode. One fashion item that not only survived the sixties and was also worn by the young and old, short and tall, mainstream and radical was the mini skirt. And of course, nothing showed off the mini better than a good pair of boots. According to veteran models and designer, Tony Jones, “Fashion is cyclical. Like I will describe it, it is an unknown spirit, you don’t know in what form it will come back to you whether round, straight, rectangular, mini or maxi. But it is left for the acceptability of the people.” A former lecturer at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Jones, famously known as the fav male model in the 70s, added: “There are forces behind every existence of fashion; one is the material existing at that particular time, which could influence the mode of fashion. When fashion creeps in, you watch the way people accept it and the material turns out to be very good. Recently, woodin came in and the Ankara material from Holland, popularly known among ladies as java guo started fading off. Woodin became preferred because of it peculiar designs. With that, people started depending on Ankara, which brought the ladies to frontline on the use of Ankara to substitute for the European cut.” The Empire waist look was introduced in 1958 and was adopted by teenagers, who wore leather shifts with knee-high black leather boots. By 1964, the teenage influence caused the hemlines to creep up, and most teenagers were wearing mid-thigh length shifts as daywear. In addition to that, sweater-dress, which is one of the trends for 2010 was also very popular with young people from 1961 onwards, until the mid-60s when other innovative designs were introduced. 1965 saw the premiere of culotte dresses in op art or vibrant coloured patters, which were most popular as evening or party wear - the freedom of trousers but with the look of a full skirt. In 1966, dresses like the tent, or baby doll, dresses in transparent chiffon, worn over a contrasting slip, often sewn-in were in fashion. Speaking of the changes, Jones adds: “I think there is similarity except with slight improvement. That is the way they are been worn with other accessories.” 60s fashion in Nigeria Let us sub-divide them into various classes. For instance, the pre independent period says more about the remote period of Nigeria’s development – the military and civilian era. Before independence, we had the European type of fashion reigning, such as English dresses, which were popular among the Christians and well-educated people. I think it was taboo for anybody who was not educated to put on tie or wear suit. So people preferred to wear an outfit that goes well with their level. During this time, fashion reigned in the church more than anywhere. It was not common to see people wearing native dress to church, especially men, because of the missionary influence. It also reflected in the way school uniforms were designed. It was common to see students wear their school uniforms to church, especially in the catholic community. You find the Muslims in very simple outfits but not covering their head with shawl as you find today. The use of shawl was very common among elderly ones. During the invasion of the military, French suit came into existence because of the influence of the neighboring countries (Togo etc). Everybody wanted to have the outlook of the military fashion. It didn’t end up with the society. It even went deep into the military itself. Before independence, soldiers were wearing shorts not trousers, that was where fashion started changing.” Head Gears in the 60s “The first headgear was associated with the music of Roy Chicago of Onilegogoro, which was influenced by Mrs. Folawinyo Abbah and that was during independence. It looks like what we have now but in a calabash form with a very trendy knot in front.” Fabrics in Nigeria “Adire was in vogue, but we now have it more developed because of the technological development. The method we were using in those days was very crude. Nigeria was not exposed to foreign countries, whatever we have here, we were trying to utilize it and we have a few numbers of people who were influenced then. Mrs. Ayegbusi had adire industry and showroom on Oil Mill Street in Lagos. It was so easy for us to purchase a well modernised adire which lasted longer compared to the one from Abeokuta. The one in Abeokuta washes easily. Bobby Benson was an influence. He used adire to design suit. Adire was also used in some hotels but not has versed. It was used for shirt, blinds, French suit, tablecloth, bed sheet, among others. Creativity of the 60s in today’s fashion “The round neckline you found in blouse was a scoop of buba. The open sleeve of buba, which was slightly voluminous for open ventilation, is reduced by use of elasticity. The short shape is been converted to a kind of compact form, a blouse joined to the lower one to make a kind of maxi.” Skirt “Permanent box pleats were popular in the early 1960s, as were reversible skirts, usually tartan, and from 1961-64, it was inverted front and back pleats. In 1966, the next skirt innovation introduced was the mini-skirt. Widely acknowledged to be the brainchild of Mary Quant, within a year it became a must-have in every ladies wardrobe, especially those who had the legs for it. At the time, skirts were often paired with a matching sweater and matching set of tights for a uniform look. Hairstyles “The hairstyles of the 60s were the antithesis of those of the 50s. Most of the simple styles from the 60s are still quite common today, but recreated into different forms, particularly the bob, and won’t look out of place. In 1961, ladies started using hair accessories like barrettes and ribbons, curls, bob and fringe complemented the clothing and attitude of the time. Make-up The 60s look is quite easy to pull off and is still used in many fashion layouts and advertisements. Eyes require the most work and for a dark look, it is best to have a few shades of dark eye shadows (ranging from grey to black), and mascara. By 1961, pale had become the fashion for the face, with girls blending their own shades of lipstick at home and white eye shadow cream one of the top sellers. Eyes became the focus and were darkened considerably to contrast with the pale faces. Dark eye shadow, liquid and kohl eyeliner, and mascara were used in abundance and smudged on eyes. Lips became paler, until girls began using white lipstick and could go no lighter. Iridescent nail varnished to match the lipstick”.

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