Why Are Celebrities So Obsessed with Vintage Fashion?

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Fashion doesn’t have to be new to make it into the news. Recently, celebrities including Cardi B and Kim Kardashian West have been wearing classic looks from designer archives, illustrating how true style can withstand the test of time. From vintage Mugler to archival Alaïa, they’re showing how wearing fashion from seasons past is a way to cement a designer’s cultural legacy.

Julia Roberts became one of the first to wear an archival look on the red carpet when she stunned in a black-and-white vintage Valentino gown at the 2001 Academy Awards. Since then, archival fashion moments have been few and far between. Tracking down one-of-a-kind pieces or getting access to designer archives can be a challenge for stylists. Because vintage designer is more elusive and difficult to replicate, there’s another level of value placed on these memorable clothes that makes them even more desirable.

Cardi B made history at this year’s Grammy Awards, not only for becoming the first female solo artist to win Best Rap Album, but also for the legendary archival Mugler gown that she wore from the 1995 couture collection. Known as the Venus dress, the pink, satin and black velvet sculptural sheath looked like a piece of art, which was fitting since designer Thierry Mugler was inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Following her red carpet look, the rapper also donned three other archival Mugler ensembles, including a purple satin coat and panther-spotted bodysuit for her performance, a white fringe dress she wore to accept her award, and, finally, a sheer striped bodysuit and feather-trimmed coat. She became the second celebrity to have access to the Mugler archives in 25 years, the first being Beyoncé for wearing a metallic gold bodysuit from the 1995 collection in the “Sweet Dreams” music video.

When archival fashion is worn, there’s an exchange of cultural currency at play. Most of the time, once a look enters the archives, it won’t be seen publicly again. To have a celebrity wear an archival look, however, the fame of the individual will add to the value of the pieces. The Mugler Venus dress is no longer just a couture dress, it will be remembered as the vintage couture look that Cardi B wore. It becomes great publicity for both the celebrity and the fashion house, giving the former an elevated image and legitimizing the latter’s cult status.

Mugler has embraced this in 2019, with Kim Kardashian West also stepping out in the fashion house’s archives following shortly after Cardi B’s Grammy appearance. The TV personality and beauty mogul also went for daring looks, including a black dress with strategic cutouts and a thigh-high slit from the Spring/Summer 1998 couture collection that she wore to the Hollywood Beauty Awards. Most recently, Kardashian West shared images of herself in a structured white cocktail dress from the Les Meduses Fall/Winter 2000 show, accompanying the designer to the opening of the Thierry Mugler: Couturissime retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal.

While Kardashian West became one of the lucky few to borrow archival Mugler for a night, she’s also shown her admiration for vintage fashion by adding to her personal collection. Last summer, Kardashian West shared a shot of herself sporting a Tom Ford-era Gucci thong while promoting her beauty brand on Instagram. The Gucci logo g-string is from the Spring 1997 collection, in which both a man and woman wore one down the catwalk. She recently continued her ‘90s fashion revival by stepping out in two Azzedine Alaïa leopard print bodysuits during Paris Fashion Week. The first full bodysuit was paired with a matching coat and booties, while the second one–originally worn by Naomi Campbell on the runway–was sheer and featured velvet panels for coverage. Both catsuits are from the Fall/Winter 1991 collection in which the late designer played with a variety of prints and knits. Thanks to Kardashian West, and other vintage-wearing celebrities, some of the most iconic fashion moments get to be rewritten into current fashion history instead of being tucked away in the archives.

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createdAt:Mon, 11 Mar 2019 13:32:42 +0000
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