The two most memorable shows of London fashion week had a common theme: memories. Ryan Lo’s fantasia collection of clothes (ruffles and balloon trousers in sweet-shop colours) recalled Pierrot. The rainbow wave was helped along by a triple whammy of music: A Whole New World from Aladdin, Immortality by Céline Dion and Walk Like an Egyptian by the Bangles.

While in a mise-en-scène that included an unmade bed and a girl cutting her own hair in a mirror, Ashley Williams’s collection was a what’s what of a teenager’s wardrobe: a baseball jacket, hoodies, dungarees and Star Trek-ish sunglasses. As with Lo’s show, the music – Kate Bush’s Under the Ivy, Kirsty MacColl’s A New England – suggested the emotional terrain and introspection of the adolescent years. Both collections followed the trend for “now-stalgia”, the idea of using a patchwork quilt of memories to make something current. It’s big in 2016, from Stranger Things to Drake’s love of the Cheesecake Factory.

In fashion terms, it is a very now phenomenon, from the mood-board to the catwalk. There is Gigi Hadid’s collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger that drew on 90s sportswear trends and the silhouette of Aaliyah, Vetements and Kim Kardashian’s re-configuring of the Juicy Couture tracksuit, and Christopher Kane’s inclusion of Crocs on the catwalk at London fashion week.

Nostalgia not only provides us with a safety net at a time of political or economic instability, it allows us to engage with the stylistic elements at a distance. On the internet, the past is presented as a smörgåsbord of interconnected trends and pop culture moments, spliced with a new twist. Instead of a wide range of sub-cultures roaming around organically, styles and tastes are dictated by Tumblrs and Instagram accounts. The pre-internet age has been fetishised. Buzzfeed (45 things from your 90s childhood you probably forgot about) and Instagrams (such as Every outfit on Sex & the City) illustrate our bottomless need to revisit and re-evaluate visual signifiers from our childhoods.

This interconnectivity, where nostalgia meets current fashion trends, can be seen whenever an Instagirl celebrity, such as Hadid or Kylie or Kendall Jenner, wears items rooted in the not-so-distant past: round sunglasses, chokers or distressed denim. Or when labels such as Hood By Air and Gosha Rubchinskiy pay tribute to retro sportswear, and new iterations of jean shape and colour reference the past. As our reference points bounce from the fashions in Clueless to My So-Called Life, now-stalgia exists with less ironic distance and more joy as the architecture for fashion now.