The gospel of each new year is clear: a new year demands a new you. Out with the booze, the sugar, the clutter and the Netflix bingeing; in with chlorella smoothies, organized closets and hardback novels. The 2017 self must leave the building.
“Auld Lang Syne” ideals attempt to proselytize us every year, right when we feel the most vulnerable. We have overindulged, feel emotionally strung out and have been going on muscle memory for months. We want to feel liberated from the schedule and the pressure and even the family. But what will happen to the now you and the old you?
Certain indicators say that a new you isn’t necessary. Life is an aggregate body of work, after all. As time buzzes by, we accumulate experiences and memories, which stamp nostalgia in our brains and souls. And the truth is, we can’t become someone or something else because we simply don’t want to. Just look at fashion.
In 2017 a palpable 1990s influence resonated throughout the fashion industry beyond catwalks and ad campaigns. Collections all around the world dripped of big hair, one-shoulder lame dresses and over-the-top eyebrows and hairstyles. Nicolas Ghesquiere designed looks for Louis Vuitton which combined high-necked brocade jackets with pastel silk running shorts and sneakers in what one might consider a hip-hop Louis XVI. Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga used tartan plaid, windbreakers and parachute pants mashed up with fanny packs, oversized jewelry and acid-washed jeans as a tongue-in-cheek homage to one of the oldest, most storied fashion houses in the world.
Donatella Versace, whose spring finale was considered the crowning achievement of the show circuit in September, brought back iconic models from the ’90s, often regarded as the “Original Supermodels” who were known just by their first names: Claudia, Helena, Naomi, Cindy and Carla. Their opening pose and subsequent runway strut met dropped jaws, sharp gasps and uproarious applause from even the most seasoned, controlled Versace guest.
Reduced down in the psyche, the feel of the show and the famous faces elicited a time in the not-so-distant past when mystery and anticipation were a way of life and glamour existed beyond a snap with a good Instagram filter. In essence, the tribute to the designer’s murdered brother was in part a celebration of the age before digitalization. The decade signified a time when, culturally and politically, Americans felt solidarity, hope and enjoyed deeply creative expression.
Even fashion, which is characterized by a frenetic pace and a constantly morphing beauty ideal, is fueled by history. We keep trying to propel forward, but we keep looking back. The young and Insta-famous who have virtually no memory of the 1990s draw heavy influence from it, whether it is Alexa Chung in shapeless floral dresses or Man Repeller founder, Leandra Medine, in long grunge-y jackets and wide-legged trousers. There is a certain mood they are trying to achieve — the charismatic, worldly ingénue — which they themselves do not know but see in the photos by Annie Leibovitz, the art of Matthew Barney and the music of Nirvana.
This month as you are on a detox retreat, signing up for a gluten-free, Whole30, paleo, vegan meal delivery, just remember that making a resolution need not be an abandoning of the past but sometimes just a rearranging of priorities. New year, the very same, perfect you.