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thiswasfashion instagram of the week vintage fashion retro

The Instagram archiving the most memorable pre-2000s fashion moments

Meet Carla Valderrama, the LA-based actress and comedian behind @dazedfashion’s Instagram of the week, @thiswasfashion

If you already follow @thiswashollywood – the Instagram chronicling the golden years of film – you might also be aware of its style-led counterpart @thiswasfashion, an account that’s archiving all things fashion from the pre-2000 era. If not, now’s the time to familiarise yourself with it – it’s a goldmine.

Started by LA-based actress, comedian and self-confessed pop-culture lover Carla Valderrama, who found herself posting far too many fashion photographs on her film-only account, the criteria is simple: each post comprises a photograph or clip that Valederrama relates to on an emotional level, that’s accompanied by a designer and a photographer’s credit and a date, that’s posted to the ‘gram and left open to interpretation.

For Valderrama, it’s all about classic, timeless style and pieces that have been designed to fit, accentuate and flatter the female form. That, and the culturally significant moments or memories that surround such references; from Beverly Johnson’s 1974 American Vogue cover – a moment that marked the first time an African-American model had appeared on the front of the magazine – and Michael Jackson’s legendary half-time appearance at the 1993 Super Bowl, to the most innovative hairstyles coming out of Vidal Sassoon’s studio in the 60s and the hottest ‘fashions’ to hit the streets of 1950s London.

We caught up with Valderrama to hear a bit more about @thiswasfashion.

How would you describe your account?

@thiswasfashion: A fashion time-machine that’s informative, inspiring, and fun – just like fashion itself.

What’s the criteria for a @thiswasfashion post?

@thiswasfashion: It’s simple. First and foremost, I have to have an emotional reaction to the photo or video that I’m posting. After that, I only have a couple of rules. It has to be pre-2000. It has to include the name of the designer, the date, the photographer and, if possible, the model. And I keep the captions simple, so people can have their own reactions and form their own opinions about each post.

Your bio says ’Those who ignore history are doomed to wear it’ – tell us a bit more about that...

@thiswasfashion: It’s a twist on the old saying, ’Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it’. It kind of encompasses the idea that few trends or moments happen completely spontaneously without drawing heavily on geniuses and trailblazers of the past.

Do you have an archive of materials stored up?

@thiswasfashion: Yes, and it’s taking up way too much space!

Which of your posts are the most memorable to you?

@thiswasfashion: Hereherehereherehere and here.

Where do you source your content?

@thiswasfashion: I get most of my content from the hundreds of vintage magazines, old books, and original studio photographs I’ve collected over the years, as well as online archives. People submit photos from their own collections as well.

What do your references reveal about you?

@thiswasfashion: That I love beautiful, classic, and timeless style. That I long for the era before mass production, when clothes were made to last and to fit a woman’s figure. But also it’s not just about the clothes for me, it’s about the experiences and memories that go along with them. The images I post are often capsules of a period of time or art.

Which memories stick out for you?

@thiswasfashion: When Beverly Johnson broke fashion’s glass-ceiling and became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue – photographed by Francesco Scavullo – in August 1974. Marilyn Monroe’s white William Travilla dress being lifted up by the breeze from the subway passing below in The Seven Year Itch. When the Spice Girls released the “Wannabe” music video. Platforms, baby doll dresses, crop tops, PVC, and fishnets all in one frame.

Who are your favourite designers?

@thiswasfashion: Living: John Galliano, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood. Dead: Norman Norell, William Travilla, Travis Banton, Adrian, and Edith Head.

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?

@thiswasfashion: @officallymosh, @lydia1940s, @cturlington, @vivandlarrygram and of course, @thiswashollywood