Ancient Fashion Makes a Comeback

Kelly Allen photoWritten by: Kelly Allen
LdM Fall 2013 Fashion Merchandising major



Have you ever wondered if fashion trends can resurface after centuries have passed? We see trends from the 20th century come back every once and awhile – neon, combat boots, crop tops – but what about trends from ancient civilizations? I had always thought fashion was a recent phenomenon and that the depths of history bore no relevance to what is going on in the world of fashion today. It wasn’t until my History of Costume professor suggested I take a look at Dolce & Gabbana’s window displays that I realized fashion inspiration knows no boundaries.

For fall and winter 2014, Dolce & Gabbana has based their ready-to-wear collection off of Byzantine costume. In class, we learned that clothing of this era was marked by lavish decoration, bold colors, and embroidered fabrics adorned with gems and pearls. This newest collection imitates Byzantine fashion right down to the heightened significance of the color red and the influence of Christian morals. As if my fashion classes at LdM were coordinating their lectures, my History of Italian Fashion class followed up this discovery with the realization that before the famous, contemporary designers there have been others to reinvent ancient costume: in fact, they are about a century behind a designer whose rise to fame can be directly traced to his adaptation of ancient Greek costume. This would be none other than Mariano Fortuny, designer of the Delphos dress. Fortuny’s creation became a status symbol in the early 20th century, so important that the designer introduced another version of it, inspired by and named after the ancient Peplos dress.

I had no idea that civilizations you only hear about in textbooks could still impact fashion today. Imagine: celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens and Katy Perry are currently wearing red carpet looks essentially copied from ancient Greece and Rome! I love that my professors were able to relate the topics we’re studying to what is going on right now in the fashion industry. I assumed my fashion history classes would be just that: strictly focused on what has happened. Instead, they connect the past to the present, emphasizing how previous styles and trends influence everything we see today. I love being able to take what I’m learning in the classroom and apply it to my own reality – what is going on in the world as I know it. What’s even better is that at LdM, my professors help me make these connections, preparing me to step outside of class and into the city of Florence where I can immediately experience them!