Consumer Nation

Fall's Fifties Flavor: Beyond 'Mad Men'


Fashion is taking yet another trip back in time, beyond the "Mad Men" looks, to the Fifties, says Roseanne Morrison, fashion director at the Doneger Group.


The fifties flavor is extending well beyond the clothing people are wearing to the tastes and attitudes that are resonating with those in Generation X and Y, Morrison said.

"There is a need to return to a simpler time when things were easier," she said.

Maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. The Fifties, as a decade, were all about getting back to normal. With worries about a double-dip recession and the labor market so widespread, it's no wonder consumers are looking for an escape.

Flirty Fifties-inspired silhouettes are beginning to show-up in the fashion world, and it will be interesting to see if this trend is apparent in the designs coming down the runway at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week shows, which begin this week in New York.

Louis Vuitton and Prada have already been embracing full skirts, with cinched waists and an emphasis on cleavage.

Others designers such as Paul Smith, Dries van Noten, and Fendi are also having '50s flashbacks. As is Dolce & Gabbana, which went for narrow pencil skirts rather than the fuller frocks of Vuitton and Prada.

But Morrison expects to see the Fifties embraced at retail stores, especially next spring.

There are already hints of what's to come in the mass market at stores such as J. Crew

and Urban Outfitter's Anthropologie. So consumers should brace themselves for more retro dresses with sweet Peter Pan collars, animal prints, sexy sweaters, and cat-eye glasses.

The Fifties trend is also reviving the key brands of the time. Think Ray-Bans, Converse sneakers, and Timex watches.

And perhaps more surprising: Fifties past-times are also seeing a resurgence. Morrison cites the growing popularity of drive-in movies, bowling and sing-along musical shows such as "Glee" as another incarnation of the trend.

Retailers Claire's and Macy's are already cashing in on this trend. Both stores just began selling Glee-themed jewelry, accessories and clothing.

Musicians are also doing their part to drive the trend, Morrison said. She cited influences ranging from the pompadour Rihanna wore to the Grammy's to the nostalgic vibe of the album cover from She & Him, an indie folk band formed by actress/musician Zooey Deschanel and singer-songwriter M. Ward.

But Morrison suspects the trend is only just beginning.

"I think we're ahead of the curve," she said.

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