top of page

The Rise of Archival Fashion in Celebrity Styling

By Mia Galante


Major celebrity events in entertainment have always been an arena for featuring the latest trends in fashion, whether it be for an awards show or the Met Gala. In the past few years, there has been a significant rise in celebrities dressed in vintage and archival pieces. The tide has changed in celebrity styling, where featuring the newest pieces from the latest collections to debut on the red carpet is no longer the goal. Now, dressing a celebrity in vintage archival pieces is a status symbol. Furthermore, these moments on the red carpet become instantly recognizable and bring more attention to what the celebrity is wearing and the stylist that dressed them. While pulling archival pieces may cultivate an iconic red carpet moment, it is not always the best styling choice for the celebrity. 


At the 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian’s choice to wear the original 1962 Jean Louis gown famously worn by Marilyn Monroe sparked controversy from those in fashion conservationist spaces. Most notably, designer Bob Mackie who sketched the design of the dress when he was an assistant for Jean Louis criticized Kardashian, expressing that the gown was specifically made to be worn by nobody else other than Monroe. Along with Mackie’s criticisms, many fashion conservationists were concerned about the damage the dress could be subjected to because of how old the gown is, the delicate and irreplaceable silk soufflé material that is no longer used in fashion design, and that it was tailored specifically to fit Marilyn Monroe, not meant to be worn by anyone else.


Kim Kardashian featured wearing Marilyn Monroe’s 1962 Jean Louis gown.


The backlash that Kardashian received from wearing this gown is why many celebrities opt to wear recreations of notable vintage pieces, since the original may be too fragile to wear on the red carpet. Additionally, recreations of archival pieces allow for the garment to be specifically tailored to the celebrity and their body type. However, whether a celebrity is wearing the original or a recreation, there’s the question of if this garment is matched to the celebrity’s authentic style, or if they are just wearing these vintage pieces as a status symbol of their wealth and privilege. Furthermore, stylists that dress their clients in archival pieces often forgo key pieces of accessorizing such as jewelry, headpieces, gloves, etc. While this may be a choice that attempts to modernize these pieces, taking away core elements of the design often lessens the impact of the piece. 


The 2024 Met Gala will also be shining a light on the rise of vintage archival pieces on the red carpet. The theme of this year’s Met Gala is “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion.” According to Vogue, this exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will feature approximately 250 items drawn from the Costume Institute's permanent collection, many of which have been rarely seen by the public. This year’s exhibition will emphasize the importance of conserving fashion as pieces of history. The Metropolitan Museum of Art describes this exhibition as a metaphor for “the fragility and ephemerality of fashion and a vehicle to examine the cyclical themes of rebirth and renewal. The exhibition will breathe new life into these storied objects through creative and immersive activations designed to convey the smells, sounds, textures, and motions of garments that can no longer directly interact with the body.”


“Tulip Hollandaises” evening cloak featured in the most recent Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition.


The 96th Academy Awards saw vintage archival pieces dominating the red carpet. Best Lead Actress nominee, Carey Mulligan, wore a recreation of the 1951 Balenciaga mermaid dress. Beyond the red carpet, there were also many celebrities that graced the Vanity Fair afterparty in iconic archival pieces. Jennifer Lawrence was dressed in a piece from Givenchy’s autumn/winter 1996 collection originally worn by Kate Moss and Margot Robbie opted for a gold Mugler corset from the spring/summer 1996 collection. 


The Academy Awards’ red carpet and afterparty has solidified that the vintage trend in celebrity styling will continue to dominate the biggest events in entertainment and fashion. While these pieces are introducing fashion history to a modern audience, instances such as Kim Kardashian’s 2022 Met Gala look raises the question of if the original pieces should be treated as artifacts and only recreations should be worn on the red carpet. Furthermore, it raises the question if this influx of archival pieces on the red carpet is rooted in an appreciation for vintage design or just another trend that celebrity stylists feel obliged to adhere to. Authentic personal style can still be expressed through archival pieces, but the choice to wear a vintage piece may become an industry standard rather than an individual choice of self expression. 


Actress Carey Mulligan on the red carpet for the 96th Academy Awards.


Actresses Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair afterparty for the 96th Academy Awards.

Actresses Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair afterparty for the 96th Academy Awards.


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page