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This term was first employed in France in the early 1970s as an abbreviation of the term ‘rétrograde’ (‘rétro’) and was used to look back to past styles and fashions in a nostalgic way. It has entered common currency in the context of marketing past styles whether in terms of music, dress, furniture, appliances, architecture, or car styling. For example, in 1974, the whole of the Selfridge's store window display in Oxford Street, London, was devoted to products and ephemera associated with the period in which the Paramount film, The Great Gatsby, was set, including Art Deco motifs, cocktails, and correspondent shoes. Such contemporary Deco ‘retro’ inclinations of the time were also evident in the Biba emporium in Kensington, with its glamorous Rainbow Room and other references to the glamour of the 1930s. Since then the term has been used almost indiscriminately as a marketing tool, but has also been seen in a more considered way in designs such as the reinterpretation of the Volkswagen Beetle car design by J. Meys in 1998.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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