Why Is Fashion So Obsessed with Archival Red Carpet Looks?

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Outfit repeating is in. Perhaps designers are running out of ideas or the sustainability movement is experiencing a real breakthrough… but either way, recycled vintage looks are all the rage. A certain prestige accompanies archival designs on the red carpet, their backstories often carrying more relevance than the celebrities themselves.

Just recently for the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Bella Hadid stunned the masses by arriving in archival Jean Paul Gaultier. Though the gown was a knockout on its own, Bella’s choice of resurrecting Naomi Campbell‘s runway look from Spring/Summer 2002 is what truly turned heads.

But Bella Hadid is no stranger to a red carpet vintage re-wear, especially in Cannes. Back in 2019, the supermodel stunned in full-red archival Roberto Cavalli. The gown was originally on the runway for Spring/Summer 2005, which despite being fairly recent is quite an unusual choice.

Zendaya, who is styled by the fabulous Law Roach, has also become somewhat of an archival fashion maven for award show appearances. For the 2021 BET Awards, the Euphoria star re-worked a Spring/Summer 2003 Versace look that had been worn by Beyoncé for the same event eighteen years prior. Nobody could stop talking about the parallels.

For the 2021 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards, Zendaya elected the archival route once more. Sporting Yves Saint Laurent couture from 1982, the actress donned head-to-toe retro complete with extra-voluminous shoulders.

Versace and Law Roach teamed up to dress Zendaya for the 2020 Green Carpet Awards as well, selecting a stunning Fall/Winter 1996 gown previously modeled by Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. Instantly reminiscent of The Big Six.

Lily-Rose Depp also called upon the ’90s for her 2019 Met Gala look. Perhaps inspired by her parents’ relevance during the decade, Lily was dressed in a jaw-dropping vintage Chanel gown. Even her makeup screamed ’90s.

On the note of re-wearing iconic red carpet looks of the past, Dua Lipa‘s reincarnation of Christina Aguilera’s 2000 Grammy’s look nearly broke the internet this year. Aside from the eye-catching Versace design of pure sparkle, Dua’s strategic selection of the pop princess’s look from two decades prior held a blatant meaning. Are archival dresses the way to indicate a passing of the torch?

Or perhaps they are a display of status, as could be true for the countless occasions in which Kim Kardashian has worn archival pieces. During a recent trip to Italy, Kim made headlines for her vintage Dolce & Gabbana look, notably a change from her pre-divorce styling by Kanye West. Pulled from the Spring/Summer 1995 collection, the mini dress was made strapless and re-accessorized.

Channeling the wet look, Kim also opted for archival styling at the 2020 Oscars Vanity Fair afterparty. Clad in Alexander McQueen‘s “Shipwrecked” collection from Spring/Summer 2004, the reality TV dignitary was the spitting image of the runway look sixteen years prior.

Back in 2018, Kim even called on Versace to re-construct her favorite archival piece in their portfolio — a yellow gown from Spring/Summer 1995. Most archival red carpet looks re-wear or slightly modify the original piece, so Kim Kardashian’s copycat format was certainly of note.

Additionally on the red carpet, Iris Law and Adwoa Aboah revived emerald tone gowns from 2004. Iris wore Roberto Cavalli from Fall/Winter to the 2021 Bulgari Gala, while Adwoa chose Tom Ford for Gucci sans fur at the 2019 GQ Men of the Year Awards.

While the archive addiction may seem like a contemporary red carpet trend, Julia Roberts did it first at the 2001 Oscars. Known as one of the best award show looks to date, Roberts’ selection of vintage Valentino stunned the audience. Black and white elegance with hardly any modifications.

Natalie Portman and Gwenyth Paltrow followed her lead years later, selecting their own favorite vintage pieces for accepting screen awards. At the 2012 Oscars, Portman chose a 1954 Dior gown that fit her like a glove. Meanwhile, Paltrow opted for a Valentino Haute Couture look of her own that dated back to 1963 for the 2019 Emmy Awards.

Finally, the most interesting and full-circle form of vintage archive on the red carpet: stars re-wearing their own looks from a previous era. For the 2018 Oscars, Rita Moreno grabbed her 1962 Oscars gown out of the closet and repeated the look 56 years later. Not only did the dress still fit beautifully, she removed the sleeves and made it strapless.

Laura Dern visibly took notes, playing a similar style choice for the 2020 Oscars. Though her gown was not as vintage as Moreno’s, Laura Dern re-wore her own custom Armani gown from the 1995 Oscars — and it was her third public appearance in the look. Why is this not more common?

Despite fashion’s incessant craving of “the new,” we can’t seem to shake the past. Trends of bygone decades always find their way back to the present-day, and vintage designs are substantially more valuable than their state-of-the-art counterparts.

On the red carpet, archival looks intentionally call upon their original usage. New waves of idols salute their inspirations, while icons of the past revisit how far they have come by simply putting on an old gown. Perhaps archival fashion is the ultimate measure of clothing’s sentimental power.

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createdAt:Fri, 09 Jul 2021 17:38:36 +0000
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