Recycle Fever Hits 90s Style; Does the Lack of New Fashion and Music in the 1990s Spell the End of Original Thought as We Approach the Next Millennium?

By Hassall, Carol | Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), July 18, 1999 | Go to article overview

Recycle Fever Hits 90s Style; Does the Lack of New Fashion and Music in the 1990s Spell the End of Original Thought as We Approach the Next Millennium?


Hassall, Carol, Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)


IT is known as the decade that taste forgot, but at least the 1970s had a certain style of their own.

From flares, permed hair and glam-rock music to Cortina cars, cheesy television sitcoms and Martini Bianco - most of us have the embarrassing snaps that prove we were there.

But as our children flick through our photo albums in 20 years' time they are sure to be disappointed because the 1990s seem to lack their own identity.

In fact, there is very little that places the final decade of the 20th century because style-makers have begged, borrowed and stolen their ideas from previous decades.

The 1980s had New Romantics, wedge haircuts and pixie boots and the 1960s were typified by drainpipe trousers, mop-tops and mini skirts.

But, like the 1970s, they have all been revisited within the past few years.

Today, new versions of old classics are the order of the day in everything from clothes to music and cars. They may call it retro but it is really just imitation.

The Volkswagen Beetle has been reborn and is taking the USA by storm and the Mini, the epitome of 1960s style, is being reshaped for the 21st century by Rover in Longbridge, Birmingham. It will hit the streets with a sleek new look next year.

In fashion, wedge heels and ridiculous platform shoes have been directly stolen from the 1970s along with floral skirts and boob tubes. Even the dreaded perm is tipped for a comeback.

Pop stars the Eurythmics and Culture Club, who found fame in the gender-bending 1980s, have re-formed and are touring again. Even Madness have a new single.

Yet sociology professor Ellis Cashmore, of Staffordshire University, believes it is wrong to label the "borrowing" culture of the 1990s simply as a turn-of-the-century phenomenon.

"There is a theory that, as we approach the new millennium, we begin a period of reflection, looking back on the previous 90 years," he said. "Creativity is frozen and we recycle the good bits - but I'm not convinced by that argument.

"There are any number of possible explanations for what is happening. One theory is that nothing is original. It is just that we believe the things we grow up with and hear first are."

He cites music as the biggest culprit in the copycat culture of the 1990s.

In the bash-thump world of techno-pop and club music that has swamped the decade, artists seem to have forgotten how to make classic, original songs. …

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