"Step back in time . . ."


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Posted by HSG on February 28, 2005 at 07:21:01:


So runs the promotional copy that accompanies a new top at Torrid:

Step back in time when you wear this black corset cami. Sleeveless top has antique ivory lace trim on the neckline, hem and as cap sleeves.

Ladies and gentlemen, something quite extraordinary is happening in our culture when a company can promote an outfit to young people by telling them that it can help them "step back in time."

Of course, Torrid's lovely models (such as this very pretty brunette, with her stunning figure) have always enabled the public to "step back in time"--to step back to a time before the mass media began brainwashing generations of young girls into thinking that androgyny and emaciation are somehow attractive (i.e., to step back to any time prior to the 20th century).

But now, Torrid has taken the idea to the next logical step, and is promoting clothes that capture the charm and prettiness of fashions from bygone days, while mixing that vintage refinement with the sexiness of contemporary couture.

The result is a blend of Old World beauty and present-day allure that suits today's young curvy vixens perfectly--because it mirrors and enhances the beauty that they themselves possess.

And in embracing these feminine styles, Torrid is at the crest of a wave that is sweeping "mainstream" fashion as well. (We enclose the word "mainstream" in quotation marks, because plus-size fashion is mainstream fashion, since the majority of young girls today are full-figured.)

A few weeks ago, in an article that preceded New York Fashion Week, FWD ran a story cleverly titled "Past Perfect," about The New York Vintage Fashion & Antique Textiles Show. The article described how many of today's designers, especially the up-and-coming ones, are inspired by vintage pieces and designs.

The writer of the piece asked each of her interview subjects, "Why is vintage so hot?" and the most enlightening answer was provided by Sheila Feeney, the organizer of the show:

"Well, the quality today is just not what it was and to get really unique designs and quality, people are going back to vintage," says Feeney. "Plus, new clothing is just not as exciting and dramatic as vintage."

So, paradoxical as it may seem, the real "cutting edge" in fashion right now is vintage, and vintage-inspired design. Vintage is hot, because it take the "New Femininity" movement to yet another level of creativity and beauty.

And how exciting to see that a plus retailer is right there at the forefront of this trend. So it should be. After all, fashion in every era prior to our own was designed with the voluptuous feminine figure in mind. Therefore, Torrid is simply capitalizing on the fact that, when it comes to looking gorgeous in vintage and timeless apparel, their curvaceous customers will trump their underweight rivals, every time.

* * *

Today, as a culture, we are stepping back in time. We are retracing our steps to recover the beauty that we misguidedly left behind. And once we recover that beauty, we will step forward, into the future.

Lillian Russell in the 1890s, in a top that she could very nearly have obtained at Torrid, today:

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