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What is RETRO STYLE? What does RETRO STYLE mean? RETRO STYLE meaning - RETRO STYLE definition - RETRO STYLE explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Retro style is style that is consciously derivative or imitative of trends, music, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past, typically 15–20 years old.
The term retro has been in use since the 1960s to describe on the one hand new artifacts that self-consciously refer to particular modes, motifs, techniques, and materials of the past. But on the other hand, some people (incorrectly) use the term to categorise styles that have been created in the past. Retro style refers to new things that display characteristics of the past. It is mostly the recent past that retro seeks to recapitulate, focusing on the products, fashions and artistic styles produced since the Industrial Revolution, of Modernity. The English word retro derives from the Latin prefix retro, meaning backwards, or in past times.
In France, the word rétro, an abbreviation for rétrospectif, gained cultural currency with reevaluations of Charles de Gaulle and France's role in World War II. The French mode rétro of the 1970s reappraised in film and novels the conduct of French civilians during the Nazi occupation. The term rétro was soon applied to nostalgic French fashions that recalled the same period.
Shortly thereafter it was introduced into English by the fashion and culture press, where it suggests a rather cynical revival of older but relatively recent fashions. In Simulacra and Simulation, French theorist Jean Baudrillard describes retro as a demythologization of the past, distancing the present from the big ideas that drove the modern age.
Most commonly retro is used to describe objects and attitudes from the recent past that no longer seem modern. It suggests a fundamental shift in the way we relate to the past. Different from more traditional forms of revivalism, "retro" suggests a half ironic, half longing consideration of the recent past; it has been called an "unsentimental nostalgia", recalling modern forms that are no longer current. The concept of nostalgia is linked to retro, but the bittersweet desire for things, persons and situations of the past has an ironic stance in retro style. Retro shows nostalgia with a dose of cynicism and detachment. The desire to capture something from the past and evoke nostalgia is fuelled by dissatisfaction with the present.
Retro can be applied to several things and artifacts, for example, forms of technological obsolescence (such as manual typewriters, cash registers, and bulky hand-held cellphones) and also the resurrection of old computer games and the equipment on which they are played.
Since the 1980s the implications of the word ‘retro’ have been expanding in the application to different media. Several fields have adopted the term retro from the design world. Thus next to design artefacts like objects, graphic design, fashion and interior design, ‘retro’ can be used for: music, art, videogames, architecture, television and food. Sometimes, it can also suggest an entire outlook on life (describing especially forms of social conservatism like home schooling or the embrace of traditional gender roles).
Up until the 1960s, interiors were decorated with antiques. During the 1960s in London shops started selling pieces of second hand furniture. These shops were different from the previous antique shops because they sold daily life objects from the recent past. These objects used to be seen as junk: Victorian enamel signs, stuffed bears, old furniture painted with union jacks, bowler hats etc. A new way of producing and consuming the past emerged and a broader range of objects from the recent past was used for new designs.
Before the word ‘retro’ came into use in the 1970s, the practise of adopting old styles for new designs was already common. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, designers borrowed from the past, for example classicistic style. The difference is that since the 1960s people started to refer to the recent past.
In the 1980s, design history emerged as a discipline and several histories of design were published. The access to these overviews and the ability to experiment with computer design programs has caused an increase of retro designed objects in the last decades.