While I was cruising the boutiques for deals (I'm a believer in natural fibers, handmade garments, and fair trade practices, so independent clothiers are the way to go), I discovered a copy of On The Edge: 100 Years of Vogue at a used bookstore for next to nothing! It was in great condition, all pages and plates were clean, and really gave me an opportunity to get back into the photographic and design trends of each decade. One of the things that astounds me is the quality of commercial photography eighty years ago. There was plenty of extraordinary photography in the art world (such luminaries as Weston, Cunningham, Stieglitz) but when I was in school, we didn't cover much of the early commercial photographic work in our photo history course.
One of the masters of the period was Edward Steichen (whom is often associated with war photography). He left Condé Nast in 1937 but his practices of celebrity portraiture laid the groundwork for Avedon and the armies of fashion photographers that followed. Take a look at this image of Gloria Swanson and you'll no doubt immediately recognize the echos of the past in our now "modern" sense of style.
©Condé Nast, c/o The Smithsonian and Corbis Images
It will be interesting to see how current economic conditions affect our cultural sense of style and design. The last time economic troubles had this profound an impact on the psychology of our culture at large. That period marked the end of Art Noveau (which is seeing a bit of a renaissance now, sometimes fused with technology, a style colloquially called "Steampunk") and the beginning of Modernism. So keep your eyes open for more use of handwritten/handworked materials and design "flourishes", integrated with strong lines and muted, solid colors, offset with exotic, colorful highlights.