The term retro has been in use since the 1960s to describe on the one hand new artifacts that self-consciously refer to particular modes, motifs, techniques, and materials of the past. But on the other hand, many people use the term to categorise styles that have been created in the past. Retro style refers to new things that display characteristics of the past. Unlike the historicism of the Romantic generations, it is mostly the recent past that retro seeks to recapitulate, focusing on the products, fashions and artistic styles produced since the Industrial Revolution, the successive styles of Modernity. The English word retro derives from the Latin prefix retro, meaning backwards, or in past times.
In France, the word rétro, an abbreviation for rétrospectif, gained cultural currency with reevaluations of Charles de Gaulle and France’s role in World War II. The French mode rétro of the 1970s reappraised in film and novels the conduct of French civilians during the Nazi occupation. The term rétro was soon applied to nostalgic French fashions that recalled the same period.