It’s been bubbling away under the surface for a while. Last year it was swelling up in the appliqué leather jackets, full skirted silhouettes, rockabilly hairstyles and cat-eye glasses. But now it’s become something more. It’s become a dominant, overarching theme of 2012 fashion.

The decade of the 1950′s is one that’s strong on iconographic associations. Think of that era-specific Americana and particular things will likely wash up from some backwater of the brain: giggling girls in poodle skirts, neck scarves and button-up knits; flashy, oversized cars, boys with greased quiffs, the kind of rock’n'roll music you can’t help but tap your foot and twist your hips to. But, like all of this year’s revivals we’re not looking to replicate the cliches like we’re off to a costume party. We’re weaving in the little seeds of inspiration from a number of different styles the era is synonymous with.

Read on for the full report. And if you’d like to keep up to date with all of the latest fashion trends and inspiration on how to wear them, subscribe to Fashionising.com’s newsletter or RSS feed.

Click the thumbnails for full pictures
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll
From elegance to rock'n'roll

1950s fashion revival: the look now

It’s the same case for all eras being revived in 2012: the key is picking and choosing the elements that suit you and working them into a modern look. That said, categorising fifties fashion broadly into a few key looks can help with knowing where to seek your inspiration from and how best to channel a particular vibe. To keep it simple we’ve broken it down into three key looks for spring 2012:

The rockabilly babe

When Miuccia Prada is peddling a trend, she doesn’t do it half heatedly. Her spring collection didn’t just hint at the ’50s, it blazed onto the runway in a thematic whirlwind of hot rod motifs and homemade bobby-pinned curls. Boob-tubes paired with high-waisted pencil skirts, feminine pleat dresses in panels of candy colours, and the editorially ubiquitous hot rod heel all contributed to Prada’s retro feel.

1950s rockabilly fashion
’50s motifs at Prada, S/S ’12

But as feminine the rockabilly babe can be, there’s also great fun in 2012 in mixing it up with an androgynous twist. Men’s rockabilly hairstyles transposed for women, skinny pants and sharp, masculine shoes, pinned-up rolled sleeves and an air of Greaser boy attitude are elements that mix in gender bending 1950s fashion cool.

The Italianate bombshell

The sun kissed skin and sultry dark strands of voluminous hair, the hourglass silhouettes and unruffled sensuality: the qualities we associate with the ’50s Mediterranean beauty.

1950s bombshell fashion
’50s bombshell at Dolce & Gabbana, S/S ’12

If the cinched waists and tousled French twists at Dolce & Gabbana weren’t enough to convey the vibe, they confirmed it with woven straw handbags and vegetable motifs that placed their Sophia Loren-like girl within the ambient romance of some local village street market (if only in our imaginations). Another take on 50s dressing that merges easily into elements of the 60s, you would be amiss not to consider hourglass shapes, headscarves, cat eye glasses, and elegant stiletto heels or summer wedges in creating a bombshell look.

The elegant ’50s housewife

Looking to the couture collections for a picture of how spring sees formal and evening dressing, it was clear that 50s icons played a big role. Lace made the move from vampish to elegant with prom-style gowns in soft, edible tones; chiffon had its time to shine. Grace Kelly might have been the pin-up girl of the couture season, if some of the gowns at Elie Saab and Valentino were a reliable yardstick.

For spring ready-to-wear, delicate prom-shapes were given a minimalist reworking at the likes of Jil Sander and Nina Ricci: a full skirt in crisp white is 2012′s equivalent of the ’50s garden party dress. For an alternative to the full skirt, the elegant vintage belle is ready to don a pair of cropped gingham pants, or a calf-length sheath dress.

fifties housewife fashion
Full-skirted elegance at Jil Sander, S/S ’12

Complimentary trends to a ’50s style look

Again, there’s no manual or clear-cut set of rules to incorporating elements of ’50s fashion into a 2012 look and the above is just a guide. There are also plenty of elements that cross over multiple styles. As such, don’t forget that you can also work in with other 2012 trends:

  • Sleek, sporty pieces may seem far removed from a vintage revival, but a pair of high-waisted sporty hot pants or a midriff baring top can be the perfect way to modernise a ’50s inspired outfit. Mix sporty and retro fearlessly.
  • A headscarf tied under the chin offers up a classic injection of 1950s glamour.
  • Since there’s blur between ’50s and ’60s fashion, there’s no reason why the two can’t work together. Mix ’50s and ’60s inspired prints, beauty looks, and hairstyles.
  • Speaking of hair, a prim faux bob or hairstyle of homemade curls will not only make for a runway-inspired look but also add a femininely vintage vibe to any outfit. Go for a rockabilly quiff for nonchalant androgyny.
  • Synonymous with the 1950s, a pair of cat eye glasses is the accessory to have be it for specs or shades.

modern rockabilly fashion
Rockabilly hair mixed with sporty cutaways and circle skirt, at Proenza Schouler S/S ’12

More 1950s fashion inspiration

For more inspiration from the spring 2012 runways on creating a 1950s-inspired look, click on the thumbnails at the gallery above.

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