What They Thought We’d Look Like
For the last couple of years a video has been circulating called “1930s futuristic fashion predictions”. Shown as part of a successful cine-magazine by Pathétone, this video explores what 1930s fashion designers said they thought the future of fashion would look like. The light-hearted commentary may seem fairly tongue-in-cheek, but on examining the ‘predictions’ closer, it is astonishing how accurate some of the guesses really were.
The first clip shows a dress featuring broad, decorated shoulder pads, synonymous with 1980s fashion. The model is holding what appears to be a large clutch bag and a belt to nip in her waist – both of which are common features of modern fashion. The idea being demonstrated is a dress that is suitable for “morning, afternoon and evening”, with removable sleeves. Whilst we may not have dresses with removable sleeves, there is a definite trend for dresses which can be adapted from day to evening, usually by adding accessories, or an indoor jacket, bolero or shrug.
The second clip shows a woman with a bold hairdo resembling a beehive, and wearing what the commentator describes as a dress made from “transparent net”, perhaps predicting the trend for popular, sheer-look fabrics used in modern collections such as the urban McQ by Alexander McQueen.
Skirts may not have “disappeared entirely” as the commentator predicts for clip three, but for decades it has been socially acceptable for women to wear trousers. The woman in this clip is wearing a jumpsuit – a yo-yo fashion trend which has resurfaced recently. She also wears a long, matching cape, a trend often seen on catwalks as designers strive to popularise the look for the high street. Reference is made to “cantilever heels” – and the model’s wedges are reminiscent of those that came in with the Spice Girls in the 1990s. Most women have a pair in their wardrobe nowadays.
Whilst the third clip makes reference to an, as yet undiscovered, electric belt which moderates the wearer’s temperature, the fourth clip seems to hint towards central heating describing an atmosphere that is “scientifically controlled”. This next model wears a long white dress with a slit up the side – unseen in the 1930s, but not at all unusual today.
From this point, the next few suggestions are less reminiscent of anything we have seen; a glass wedding dress, an aluminium dress, and a decorative ‘headlight’ hairpiece; although the aluminium dress could be mistaken for a westernised kimono. It isn’t just women who are featured though; among the stranger predictions for men’s designer clothing are rather odd hairpieces, ornate jackets, and the absence of shaving. On the other hand, ‘man-bags’, mobile phones, and the absence of ties all get a rather more deserved look in, too!
The predictions in the video make you wonder whether predictions made by designers today are as strange and unfounded as they appear, or whether, in seventy years time our children and grandchildren will be wearing Seven denim jeans and Belstaff leather jackets as a nod to ‘retro’ or ‘vintage’ fashions, and whether aluminium spacesuits, or even some sort of complex, computerised hologram will be the latest example of designer fashion.