The more we change, the more some design elements stay true to classic, old world inspiration and essence.
Majestic. Classic. Timeless. There’s nothing like old-world charm — it’s nostalgia-evoking, regal and reminiscent of a retro style that gets incorporated in today’s design world quite copiously. Old-world and vintage styles are liberally used in design — whether it’s fashion, architecture or interiors, designers swear by classic patterns to guarantee a timeless look.
Whether it’s Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s autumn-winter collection Kesari Pannalal which showcased elegant old-world designs or Tarun Tahiliani’s regal designs that are often showcased by our actresses, styles which reflect the sheen of the old era have a charm that’s unmatchable. Celebrity weddings too have seen a generous number of vintage patterns with Deepika Padukone even opting for a Frida Kahlo-inspired look at one of her wedding receptions.
Rohit Bal’s latest collection Gul Dastah showcased at a recent fashion tour was dedicated to the masters of the Renaissance Period and the collection rendered a vintage feel and displayed the magnificence of Indian tradition. When it comes to jewellery, the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian era inspire designers greatly, with the art deco era being popular in today’s design.
Jewellery designer Varna Narendra reveals that designs from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau era are being used often today. “This isn’t limited just to jewellery. A lot of interiors in houses are more symmetrical and geometrical, but very elegant — this is art deco, an era that lasted from 1915 to 1935. The art deco era was heavily influenced by the Jazz Age, at a time where women were rebelling against social restraints.”
As for fashion, it’s a cycle that’s constantly repeating, but evolving at the same time. Archana Walavalkar, Co-founder and Creative Director at Style Cracker, says, “Nothing truly grows old in the world of fashion. Inspiration is found from the most uncommon sources and sometimes from the littlest of things. Trends change every season and often reflect the overall sentiment and culture of society at any given time. It is upto us, on how we adapt to these trends and make them our own. 2019 is all about rehashing the classics and bringing back key trends from every era like; the power suits from the 70’s, pop colors from the 80’s and fanny packs from the 90’s. Some cool looks from the past to watch out for, that are sure to be making their way back into your wardrobe this season are Inspired by the 80’s; denim overalls and comfortable block heels, inspired from the 80s, flared pants and giant hoop earrings inspired from the 70s and the cat eyeliner and exaggerated lashes inspired from the 60s. Leather jackets have become almost immortal and rock and roll sunglasses can be worn just about anywhere,” says Archana, who’s styled Alia Bhatt in a 70s inspired all-white kaftan and a beaded headband for the song Kar Gayi Chull and Jahnvi Kapoor and Ishaan Khattar in 80s inspired denim. “Make your own rules and don’t be afraid to mix the old with the new. Reusing your existing wardrobe with clever styling tips is a great way to manage your carbon footprint. As we become increasingly concerned with sustainability and the effect of fast fashion on the environment, repeating clothes keeps them out of the landfill.”
When it comes to architecture and interiors, retro designs have an earnestly appealing look about them and are opted for by many homes and offices. While we as a generation don’t have much of a connect with the 80s, a plethora of interior design devotees will profess that the 80s were, in fact, the last decade of true creativity and originality in décor. “This sentiment is catching on. Could the over-the-top matchiness, fussy prints, geometric colour craze and pastel everything really be thought of as an important moment in interior design history? Call it nostalgia or a design movement that’s here to stay, the 80s may be long behind us, but their legacy is being kept alive by popular demand,” say Architects Raja Arjun and Akshara Verma, founders of the design company Office of Cognitive Design. (OCD).
From Madonna to Michael Jackson, Top Gun to Back To The Future, pop culture saw some legendary people and cinema in the 80s. Some describe the look of the time as a bit over-the-top, but the aesthetic was also fun and stylish. “The 1980s saw the introduction of the personal computer, music CDs, “yuppies” and the DeLorean. A string of successful movies by John Hughes: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were released.
Music videos made their first appearance and introduced veejays, or music disc jockeys. Movies, music and fashion in the 80s were more fun, light-hearted and sentimental then had been in the previous decade. Collectively, these pop culture elements created a look and a sound that defined the 1980s vibe for many of us,” reveals Arjun, adding, “The Memphis movement is overtaking mid-century modern as the furnishing and color selection du jour. Primary colours and graphic shapes haven’t seen this much action since the eighties. Also, in our space planning we are turning away from straight, rigid furniture lines and choosing enveloping tub chairs and Vladimir Kagan-esque curved sofas. Colours we see in for 2019 are blush, dusty pink and bronze. Warm colors and feminine tones for on the walls and dashes of soft pinks to break up expanses of taupe or neutrals will instantly update a tired room.”
The return of maximalist art
Maximalist art too is back. The dominance of minimalism and Scandinavian design, which is characterised by neutral colours and simple materials, is finally declining. “In its place, bright colours and graphic patterns are becoming more prevalent in the home. Don’t be afraid to mix colours, patterns and textures. Take a gallery wall to the next level by having it cover an entire wall, or add a dramatic, large-scale piece to your space. In this case, more is more. The trend which will trump all and also will find its place as a necessity is to be a sustainable space. To complement and highlight special pieces, we believe in designing an impeccable foundation through the use of timeless materials, ultimately resulting in bones that evoke emotion whenever you’re in your space. There is greater interest in biophilia-emphasising the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. Natural, organic materials-such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life-remind us of the exterior and brings the outside and nature, in. We are a machine and technology-driven society, but nostalgic about past processes and handiwork, so opportunities for custom millwork and crafted materials are very important,” shares Akshara.
Fashion has never shied away from going vintage and Indian looks guarantee a greater scope for incorporating vintage elements. Fashion designer Shivani Awasthy is someone who swears by the timeless look that vintage brings in. “I did an entire collection called Shadow Box, in which I’d incorporated the old-world charm and a range of gowns. I do get influenced a lot by the early Victorian age and the early 1920s. I also showcased it at the Paris Fashion Week under my international label and do a lot of couture — I’m very much into geometric detailing where I do take references form Queen Elizabeth and those times,” shares Shivani, who believes that old-world looks are forever elegant and that elegance never goes out of style. “Every woman wants a classic black dress, classic-fitted ball gown and these are designs that are extremely accessible. People always have classic pieces like a white blouse in their wardrobes,” says the designer, who recently styled Aditi Rao Hydari in an old-school well-fitted look interspersed with modern design and also dressed Gauri Khan in an elegant gown.
Model and Chekka Chevantha Vaanam actress Dayana Erappa is someone who’s sported and walked the ramp in many an old-world look. “Everyone’s coming out with the Gayatri Devi kind of styling. Every designer has a vintage collection — you can’t forget your roots and where you come from. A lot of them get influenced by the olden days’ kings and queens. Even the make-up and hairdos are done in classic styles — inspired by Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Even a lot of young designers are getting denims, flared pants and fashion from the 80s back. My personal favourite vintage designers are Sabyasachi, Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and Tarun Tahiliani,” she says.
Surely, letting go of the past doesn’t seem to be a thing with designers and this has ensured that classic and timeless styles from the olden days are incorporated perfectly in today’s design world. And old, for sure, seems to be gold.