It's often said that fashion has no new ideas - that designers simply replicate and refine the looks of the past. Yes, fabrics become more technical, new treatments are invented, shapes are tweaked, new digital prints are created. But really, aren't we just trolling through the decades, taking bits of the flapper 20s, the disco 70s, the power shouldered 80s?
What never fails to amaze me is just how frequently the 1960s come back into fashion. About every two years, in fact. A couple of seasons ago, Marc Jacobs had Australian model Ruby Jean Wilson channelling Warhol star Edie Sedgwick in his checkerboard-print Louis Vuitton campaigns, while Moschino sent its models down the runway in beehives, miniskirts and go-go boots. The trend receded, a few other trends followed in its wake ("blanket dressing", "normcore"), and hey-ho, it's time to start assessing the international autumn-winter collections. And guess what? The 60s are back. _Again _.
Witness the runways of Saint Laurent Paris, Gucci, Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton (this time under the directorship of new incumbent Nicolas Ghesquiere). Gucci's Frida Giannini sent models out wearing pastel-coloured 60s pea coats and knee-high boots. Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane sent English beauties Sam Rollinson and Sarah Douglas out in full mod mode, wearing houndstooth capes, sharp Vidal Sassoon bobs and Twiggy eye make-up. Miu Miu's latest ad campaign features actress Stacy Martin channelling Mad Men's Megan Draper, all long, swinging hair and Francoise Hardy cool.
Why does this era - particularly the mod-tinged mid-60s- continue to exert such an influence over the fashion designers of today? And will fashion-conscious women actually wear these deliberately retro looks?
Mid-60s fashion, with its slightly demure girlishness (miniskirts paired with thick tights, Maryjane shoes, Peter Pan collars) has always skewed young.
Can a 40-something woman with a penchant for the decade that time won't forget give a nod to the Swinging Sixties without looking like she is trying to shave a few decades off her age?
The answer, to my mind, is yes. You might want to take the dress or skirt length from mid-thigh down to the knees, but anyone can wear a 60s pea coat (round collared, single or double breasted) and look stylish. You could also take a cue from Saint Laurent and work some mod staples - a patent leather jacket or boots, a Prince of Wales check - into a more contemporary look.
If the monochrome mod thing isn't for you and you are attracted to the style of the later 60s, you can take a cue from Louis Vuitton's use of browns, purples and greens - the Biba-esque colours of 1967 and beyond.
And while a rounded Peter Pan collar can look a bit ingenue-like, why not pair it with a V-neck sweater, tailored black pants, ballet flats and a black blazer for a beatnik/Audrey Hepburn look?
The great thing about 1960s style for women like me who shudder at the idea of high heels is that it unanimously, across the decade, advocated flats or shoes with a small block heel. Maryjanes, ballerinas, flat boots, and hippie sandals were the styles du jour (this was a decade in which clothes were, for the most part, genuinely inclined towards freedom of movement for women, hence the forgiving A-line and trapeze shift dresses and the long, flowing styles of the hippie era).
The sharp, geometric bob will never go out of style, although women with longer locks can go for a 60s look with a slight bouffant or side part. And while the spidery Twiggy eyelashes are probably best left for retro-obsessed 20-somethings, a flick of liquid eyeliner can work at any age.
Perhaps the best thing about 1960s fashion is that there were so many facets to it. The early 1960s still had the restraint and sophisticated glamour of the decade before. Mod still looks cool and relevant today, while the bohemian later 60s appeal to our free-spirited side.
You may not want to do a full head-to-toe look but you can certainly take elements of the trend and work it into your wardrobe.
The great thing about 1960s style for women like me who shudder at the idea of high heels is that it unanimously, across the decade, advocated flats or shoes with a small block heel.