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Kimberley Foster writes...

It is undeniable. We are a society that is obsessed, yes goshdarnit obsessed with 1950s/60s nostalgia. You only have to flick on the telly or flip through a magazine to see how heavily influenced today's pop culture is with this bygone era. There are, of course, plenty examples of this, but the most recent occurred just last week with Banana Republic releasing its latest Mad Men collection (pictured above, left).

The collection made headlines not because of its colourful mod-inspired pieces, full of graphic prints and Sixties shift dresses, but rather because its brand ambassador, Coco Rocha, has been labelled "too skinny" to represent it. Consumers have taken to Banana Republic's Facebook page to complain about the brand's decision to use a runway-size model to promote dresses that, quite frankly, would be too small for Joan and Peggy to fit into. Rocha was quick to respond claiming that the photographer was going for a Twiggy '60s look. This maybe so, but I can't help but agree with some who have deemed it a "wasted opportunity."

archies girls mac.jpgAnother fashion-forward brand that has fallen head-over-heels for '50s nostalgia is MAC Cosmetics, who have unveiled a collection inspired by Archie Cosmetics. The iconic comic strip, which starred the lovable small-town American Archie, bombshell Betty and sassy Veronica, has been rejuvenated for today's modern market. Why? Because of its "innocence" and "simplicity," according to James Gager, MAC creative director and senior vice president.

You only have to look at some of our most popular celebrities to see examples of how the '50s have taken hold of the mainstream. Pioneering this movement (if you can call it a "movement") is Dita Von Teese, whose whole look is so rooted in authenticity she won't allow anyone else to create it for her. That's right, she doesn't have a stylist, and prefers to do her own hair and make-up. Quite impressive, no?

Others who have adopted a keen interest in the retro styling of old include Taylor Swift, who these days has left behind her cutesy country ways for a full skirt, a pair of brogues and a tube of red lipstick. Katy Perry is another one who has injected a tongue-in-cheek, candy cane flavour into her wardrobe, album covers and music videos. And it appears to have paid dividends with both making it into the Forbes 2012 list of top-earning women which showed that Swift had earned $57 million and Perry made $45 million. Like Von Teese, they are business moguls running their own empires based on a new, Gen Y approach to ladylike dressing.

Of course this obsession with nostalgia extends far beyond popular culture. It reaches into our home decor, interior design, food, wardrobe and more. So what fascinates us so much with reviving these decades?

"We live in a contemporary world, where mayhem and information overload dominate our tangible and digital space; a constant flow of emails and Twitter feeds reminds us to engage with our Facebook and Tumblr accounts. A bygone ear appears to be simpler and more refined," Dr Karen Webster, associate professor at Melbourne's RMIT University told the Herald Sun's Sunday Style.

Escapism, simplicity and innocence may underpin our obsession with '50s/'60s nostalgia, but so does irony. You can't walk past a greeting card stand without seeing retro images plastered with funny, sarcastic modern taglines. We mock the way things were from a safe, superior distance and laugh off the political incorrectness. And for some of us, turn a handy profit in the process.