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The Use Of Notions Of Nostalgia By Fashion Editorials To Communicate To An Audience

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Insight into the past is now more accessible than ever at the touch of a button. This enables a mass audience to accumulate and idealize the past they have not seen; a memory in which is not theirs. People can reminisce and romanticize about the past without living it – this is the notion of nostalgia. British Vogue found a study of popular searches on google. Vogue ‘In the company’s yearly study of the most trending searches, a metric Google calculates by tracking the greatest increase in year over year searches, the top four fashion searches were: 1980s fashion, grunge fashion, 1990s fashion, and 2000s fashion. ’ These searches allow a large audience to imitate and recreate fashion from the past. Why would people do this? Because people want to follow a trend, and the way they do this is through media whether it is a fashion editorial, runway, models or the internet. People will find a way to follow example especially when it involves an individual’s aesthetic. Nostalgia is the notion of longing which will remain an essential human condition no matter how much society advances. We will always yearn for the happiness of a past memory of an experience.

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As Jessica Helfand describes on Design Observer, nostalgia privileges memory and perception over reality, and favours a utopian and imagined past over the real one. Indeed, nostalgia can provoke positive emotions of happiness, connection, confidence, and optimism, and when people feel down nostalgia can raise their spirits. These are factors of emotive language designers use to communicate with an audience. Designers use notions of nostalgia within a design to trigger emotion which gives them the power to grab an audience’s attention effectively. Inputting emotion into design creates a sentimentality between the audience and publisher; something which can be used to their advantage. Expedia did a throwback Thursday campaign, ‘Which used nostalgia to engage its social media audience. Participants had to post and tag a picture of a favourite past vacation and the lucky winners received a travel voucher to recreate their trip. ’ People could relate to this campaign on a personal level as it allowed them to reminisce about a moment from their past. This makes the audience associate happiness with the brand therefor engaging a crucial communication point between the product and the audience. Fashion Editorials like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, I-D and Dazed are revisiting ‘throwback’ moments from the past to evoke emotion from an audience. Vogue continues to run as one of the most influential and authoritative fashion editorials since the 1800s. Which is why it is a great example of comparison; to see how fashion editorial has evolved.

‘The biggest example of vintage editorial design is without a doubt Vogue. It is the epitome of vintage design when it comes to magazines and it set the bar very high creatively for magazines of the Art Deco era. Vogue became popular before cover girls were photoshopped to the extreme like today. ’ They were more about the design and the attention to detail – especially in the Art Deco period’. The ‘Art Deco’ Vogue covers produced from the 20s to the 30s were produced in such a stylistic way; when we look at these covers today, they are easily romanticized. We associate the ‘roaring twenties’ with a time of freedom and expression; an age where a majority challenged prohibition and rejected righteous qualities of society. ‘Even sexual morals were more relaxed, at least in big cities. Indeed, the twenties may be considered a metropolitan phenomenon’. Rebellious teens created a liberating and free-spirited culture that will be forever glamorized and envied. These feelings relate to nostalgia; which dominant fashion brand pioneers use to their advantage.

A more recent example of a fashion editorial which uses nostalgia to engage with an audience is I-D. Starting as a fanzine in London 1980, it has come a long way since before the technological age. I-D has a prominent reputation of being a leading inspiration for trendsetters in the United Kingdom. The editorial is mainly sourced online like many others today in the digital era however, it can also be found printed. The internet is forever expanding, reaching a big population of people; including a generation that consumes information faster than ever through their smartphones. I-D has evolved with its audience and used it to their advantage, which they pride themselves with. ‘Constantly reinventing itself, as with our website, I-D continues to encourage creativity. ’ Their target audience is primarily young people which enables them to use a global platform – the internet – to communicate as well as the use of celebrities and designers. With nostalgia trending, online influencers and designers are a main source of inspiration for young people.

Forbes. com ‘People idolize celebrities, so when famous people are seen in advertisements promoting a new product, audiences are prompted to buy that product, either subliminally or directly. ’ Fashion editorials use this to communicate the notions of nostalgia for example, if you see your favourite celebrity rocking a 90s outfit, you will take inspiration from that; subliminally or directly. ‘Mark Jacobs is reissuing his 90s grunge masterpieces’ and ‘starcrawler go all 90s MTV in the new video for “Hollywood ending”’ are 2 recent articles published by I-D which mentions mention 90s fashion and culture. This is just one-way fashion editorials communicate notions of nostalgia with I-D referencing as many as 23 articles relating to nostalgia and ‘throwbacks’ in 2018. The exposure of designer’s latest releases within fashion is important, as they inform an audience on current trends thus starting a ‘trend’.

‘Over two decades on from its original incarnation, grunge is back. Well, actually, 90s nostalgia in general in capturing the fascination of Gen Z’ Many fashion editorials now use celebrity endorsements to create revenue for their editorial or promote the designers within them. ‘If Ms Knowles saw the SS15 MM6 Maison Margiela show, she will no doubt have nodded approvingly when Beyoncé’s red bandanna top from the gig made a reappearance in industrial rubber, paired with light-wash jeans – a moment that prompted us to ask whether this season, fashion had grown Tumblr-hungry. It certainly has all of the trademark Margiela irony, and its deliberate bad taste felt like the sartorial embodiment of a #TBT accompanied by a smirking emoji and a sincere red heart. ’ It is ‘Gen Z’ that has grown up looking at pictures on Tumblr and taking inspiration from them; now looking back at what inspired them is nostalgic as the fashion has ironically bad taste, however, everyone followed trend. This is something now something 90s babies are recreating – reliving their teenage years. This pattern follows throughout the years in the history of fashion. With nostalgia still running as the latest trend since 2018 and fashion editorials publishing articles reminiscing about the 90s, of course, people are going to be romanticizing. It is a trip down memory lane, 90s baby’s childhood and past memories of happiness for everyone else. Not to mention it is mostly ‘Gen Z’ reading these articles. Even if it just a suggestion of quote by an editorial, the audience reading it will subliminally relate this to their real life and feelings. Dazed and Confused, is an independent, alternative style and culture magazine founded in 1991 by Jefferson Hack. The online platform reaches a global community much like other magazines now; a great tool for publishers and designers to help communicate to an appropriate audience. The digital era has made images and information more accessible than ever including celebrities. Media platforms recognize that their target audience idolizes celebrities and their lifestyle which is why they are used as a selling point, especially on front covers – Vogue especially.

‘The cover’s job is to sell the magazine and carry the image of the brand. ’ Most printed fashion magazines go by this rule using celebrities and models to feature on their front cover which makes them look somewhat similar and some would argue imitative and unoriginal. However, Vogue argues they are different. Vogue ‘most modern-day women’s magazine covers can basically be described as “a picture of a girl in a dress”, yet for Vogue, they have to look like “Vogue covers, yet be different from each other and from the other magazines on the shelf. This special quality comes from different sources: it could be a particularly amazing model, a celebrity, a beautiful hat, a wink in an eye a special printing technique, a surprising photograph. ’ The modern-day editorial if now a page of layout and text with a pretty girl behind it whether this is a good thing is up for debate. Before the front-page article, headlines and gossip, it was about the current day contemporary art, attention to detail and the artist perception. Whether its early Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or the first fanzines of I-D, looking at past histories of fashion editorials will make you feel nostalgic even if you weren’t there to see it, it is the evolution of fashion editorial aesthetics. Looking at editorial design now it is about the contents that attract the audience, what’s hot and trending. This is what intrigues a reader before they even pick it off the shelf to read it. Vogue has the most recognized which makes it an epitome of fashion editorial.

‘Vogue has become the champion women’s fashion publications because of its effective printed covers and dedication to its audience. ’ In a way Vogue is the trend-setter of editorials therefore, other publishers see how they communicate and emulate something similar. Since Vogue started to heavily use photography in the 40s on their front covers it was models used as a focal point, un until the 2000s celebrities and actresses started to be used. This follows the trend of other publications to; this is so the general public recognizes the image which increases the chance of a purchase. However, it is the type that surrounds the image that communicates with the audience, the selling line, main cover line, cover line and model credit; these are the features that sell a printed publication. This text can be held responsible beginning trends within in fashion that same as an article headline would do online. This is how fashion editorials sold nostalgia in 2018. Fashion editorials have sold nostalgia by using the front cover to communicate to the audience, this is the first point of sale. Using emotive language intrigues the reader which increases the chance of them picking up and reading the magazine; the same rule applies to online the articles, but the title does the work. Online articles sold the story of nostalgia the most last year with it being the trend of 2018. The nostalgia trend was targeted at ‘Gen Z’ exploiting 90s fashion and designers that are creating a throwback moment.

‘Nostalgia, in a digital age, no longer relies on an individual or specific memory, desire or event: it is fed and encouraged online, topped up relentlessly by easy access to an infinitely recyclable and sharable past. ’ Society has changed the way we consume information which is why fashion editorials are almost always online as well as printed. Online is where we source information, new trends, designers and gossip which makes it hard for the printed page to still stay relevant. Online articles that have been selling the trend of nostalgia are luring and engaging like “pink trailer” is a nostalgia-soaked short film about being in your 20s’ and ‘Reebok x Victoria Beckham just launched, and it’s a 90s dream’. Even if you are not interested in these articles it still makes you want to know what all the fuss is with revisiting the past and feeling nostalgic. These article titles are how fashion editorial are communicating to their online audiences due to screen design becoming more and more popular and the need for information fast.  

10 December 2020

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