From Gucci’s back-to-school army to DIY detailing – more designers are now seeking inspiration from their childhood

Emma Firth | 17.01.2020

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Anti-ageing creams, vampire facials, tweakments, religious application of SPF50: we are a generation obsessed with turning back time. Fashion, too, is going through a(nother) time warp, drawing inspiration from school sketchbooks and childlike fashions.

It started off simply enough. A (Simone Rocha) pearl clip here, a (silk) scrunchie there. Oh, and what’s this now? A Prada headband? Oh alright - go on then. Simultaneously, a wave of girlish, frilly dresses, imbued with a youthful optimism - from the likes of Cecilie Bahnsen, Batsheva and Shrimps - struck gold on and off the runway.

VIA INSTAGRAM | @batshevadress

A more obvious example of the blooming ‘kidult’ mood this year, was also spotted on Gucci’s AW20 menswear runway earlier this week. Creative director Alessandro Michele’s collection challenged masculine dress codes with an array of baby doll dresses and schoolboy looks (shorts and blazers), styled with thick white socks, Mary-Jane shoes and bags that remind us of tinned lunchboxes. (Even the press notes for the show were scribbled on lined school notepaper).



Alessandro told WWD that before designing the collection he was feeling nostalgic for the “innocence of childhood.” A time when “pretty much anything goes on the dressing up front and adults refrain from making judgments.”

The womenswear SS20 catwalk, too, was packed full of childhood references, with details that you’d likely find scribbled inside your 5-year-old sketchbook. Think Miu Miu’s daisy motifs to Marc Jacobs lucky star outwear (note to self: doodling is cool again). In September, New York-based designer Sandy Liang showcased her debut jewellery collection which paid homage to Polly Pocket toys in the form of charm necklaces, baby-pink hairclips and rings.

VIA INSTAGRAM | @sandyliang

Worried about looking too sickly-sweet? It’s all in the detail to inject a more grown-up twist to proceedings: think DIY decoration reimagined onto sumptuous silk, suede and 1970s-style silhouettes and hearts and planets embroidered onto leather for a punkish edge (see Ukraine-based label Tender and Dangerous below).

Above all else, incorporating childlike accents into your wardrobe is a feel-good antidote to counter today’s tumultuous political state of affairs. A soothing reminder of a simpler time before 24/7 news cycles, social media and work-life took over, well, just about everything. For those tempted to dip into the kidult look this year, check out our edit of the best entry-level nods to the trend coming of age in 2020.

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