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80s fashion


Friends in the 1980s

Now that I am finished exploring 80s fashion and its impact on fall trends for 2009, I have collected some 80s photos of real people.

Here they are, showing their own 80s styles, with Cyndi Lauper to accompany them. Many of these are vintage fashion people...I said I would not name names...except one.



80s fashion redux, part 13: Gaultier was the 80s

(This is the thirteenth and final installment in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

It was my personal conclusion several years ago that Gaultier was 80s fashion. He inspired, he cajoled, he shocked, he amused, he led, and he brought popular interest back to fashion designers in that decade.

Jean Paul Gaultier loved fashion in the 80s. As he stated about the 1980s in Interview, October 2001:
For me it was the dream of my life to do this work. I could do what I loved to do. It was a time of excitement and freedom, and also there was a hysteria [in the air] about fashion. There was intensity because the Japanese had arrived and added a lot of excitement. It was not about marketing and managing and all that. In the '80s the word was creativity.
The list of my favorite 80s trends? Gaultier did them all. If you doubt his transmutation of gender roles or his humor, please watch How to Do That, his foray into music video of 1989:

Originally posted June 25, 2006:

I can't begin to articulate the influence of Jean Paul GAULTIER in the 1980s, but I can try to articulate the way his influence felt on me then. Many deemed him the "bad boy" of fashion, but in so many ways he seemed to me the absolute apex of all that was current in the 80s, completely creative yet centered on the classics. Richly traditional, eclectic, seasoned, and yet well-seasoned with more than a hint of exotic spice. Not a bad boy, more like terribly, terribly good!

In my 80s fashion blogs I've mentioned athletic wear, humor, masculine dress, unconventional beauty, uniform, color, polka dots and stripes, vintage inspirations...look no further than Gaultier for the very most incisive looks of the decade. At times as deconstructing and radical as the Japanese, he also held things together with his Parisian fashion roots. Gaultier also made a great impact dressing Madonna in flamboyant outer/underwear, and creating rich ethnic-inspired clothing.

I love this Elle magazine spread with Gaultier choosing clothing from a range of sources for these eclectic looks (above and below).

Update August 31, 2009:
Gaultier has been up to no bad. His recent styling for Les Echos, using his own and others' clothing designs, shows his stunning inimitability:

Here is some of Gaultier's work for Hermès, and his own ready to wear and couture lines for fall 2009, showing his talent for making eye-opening and absolutely wearable clothing.

And still, Gaultier is outré, provoking, amusing, leading as ever, with incredible variety in one—the same—season of design.

From the 80s through today, viva Gaultier!



80s fashion redux, part 12: Time of the essence in the 80s

(This is the twelfth in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

Watches...probably not the biggest influence on current fashion, but one of my favorite style trends of the 80s. They were everywhere then, including up and down my arm.

Underwear as outerwear, a popular 80s theme...and of course there's a watch

Originally posted June 5, 2006:

Of all outgoing accessories in the 1980s, WATCHES were most necessary. Watches appeared in fashion magazines in spreads with bathing suits, wedding gowns, and in every other possible or impossible setting. Vintage watches were used as fashion decor, and man-style watches, along with Swatches and other brights, were extremely popular.

Blazer, Donna Karan, Riding pants, H. Kauffman & Sons Saddlery, Wrist watch, Tiffany & Co., Pocket watch, Obrey

Some of my own 80s watches, including the earliest Swatch I ever spotted (bottom of scan)

Update August 27, 2009:

I have already pointed out a true paean to the 80s circling the necks of models on Dolce & Gabbana's runway for fall 2009

...but frankly, this is more an homage to a time gone by, not current need. Even in the 80s, we were starting—just starting—to get away from watches. Their popularity (and the start of their demise) was due to the fact we no longer had to wind them, and they were cheaply and reliably made. They were very soon superseded by even more amazing technical achievements in the making of personal gadgetry. Now we rely on our smartphones for time, along with so much more information. Perhaps this genre hasn't disappeared, but morphed in form?
Wood concept smartphone, Gernot Oberfell



80s fashion redux, part 11: Finally! Vintage inspirations in the 80s

(This is the eleventh in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

Vintage clothing was hot in the 80s. What had gotten going in the 1970s only intensified, and designers were inspired to create new fashions with decidedly vintage style.

Norma Kamali, 1985
Now stay with me here, I'm talking about the influence of previous decades' fashions on 80s fashion, while talking about how fashions of the 80s are influencing current fashion. It can at times be dizzying.

Originally posted May 22, 2006:(I've been just dying to show these photos...I was at home in vintage in the 80s, and some of these photos are much worn from my carrying them around as inspiration. I will limit my remarks and photos, but I would love to go on infinitely...)

The most modern VINTAGE wearers in the 80s didn't so much wallow in nostalgia, but nicked and adapted freely from the past. Fashion in the 80s found its kindred spirit in the 50s so inspirations from that decade were particularly compelling, while the 30s seemed to come in a glamorous second. The 60s were too recent to find great currency (not so much shape any way, but color and pattern), and the early years of the 40s were just a tad too austere for this flamboyant decade.

Edwardian Summer

Flapper Twenties

Margaret Howell white linen shirt and jacket
Starlet Thirties

Dior makeupDonna KaranRandy Kemper
Air Raid Forties

Pringle twinsuit and Armani cuffed trousers
Glamour Fifties

OMO Norma Kamali draped gown. Marabou stole, Adrienne Landeau
Rifat Ozbek stripes and Graham Smith straw hatCoveri blue and silver cocktail frock
Fab Sixties
Stephen Sprouse

Update August 23, 2009:Maybe we are being influenced by the 80s to delve into the past, but we may actually have the 80s beat, with so many designers referencing vintage styles for fall 2009.

Galliano's bright vision of the Edwardian era for Dior ready to wear

20s inspirations from Lanvin and Prada30s from Dolce & Gabbana and Hermès

Alber Elbaz/Lanvin's and Elie Saab's 40s looks
Galliano's take on the 50s, for Dior haute couturePhillip Lim's trip seems to be the 60s British Invasion

The 70s seem to hold less sway over current trends than they have in some time, although I wouldn't be surprised to lift the brim of this hat to find Lauren Hutton:
Ralph Lauren

Now add to these the 1980s, and the 80s versions of previous eras.

It's dizzying...but in a good way.



80s fashion redux, part 10: The romance of uniforms in the 80s

(This is the tenth in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

It felt like another case of 80s déjà vu when Christophe Decarnin reincarnated the rock-and-roller band jacket for Balmain, Spring 2009.

Then Michael Jackson died. Although band jackets were a look of Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, it feels like it's time again for Michael's jacket, with its flamboyance and fantasy.

It is a look I favored occasionally in the 80s, with a very ornamented green and gold jacket that had been worn by a member of my father's high school pipe band in the 1960s. I am a musician and have worn uniforms because I had to, but I adored wearing such a beautiful vintage uniform because I wanted to.

Originally posted May 16, 2006:

Not just any UNIFORM suited 80s style. Uniforms had to be witty, romantic and sharp, without a hint of grunt or camouflage. The regiment could be from any time and any place in history, and often had a distinct sense of humor. Real vintage uniforms were haute-ly pursued.

Christian Dior Haute Couture by Gianfranco Ferre

Genuine vintage uniform jacket from Kaufman's Army & Navy, NYC

Another authentic vintage uniform jacket

Vintage firefighter's jacket

Traditional Welsh Guards uniform

Update August 18, 2009:

For fall 2009, there is a new regiment of fanciful uniform looks, from Phillip Lim's Mod Sousa to Gaultier for Hermès' aviatrices. With Michael gone, it seems there are plenty ready to take up the baton.



80s fashion redux, part 9: Polka dots hit the spot in the 80s

(This is the ninth in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

The intrigue of bright pattern mixing photographed by the inimitable Toscani in 1986, clothes by Missoni and Fendi

I didn't mention this in my post from 2006, but this is personal. I wore so many polka dots in the 80s that my standard line for people who asked me about this was "why yes, I do shop at Circus Surplus!" I loved mixing patterns and I loved brights.

80s patterns, I salute you!

Originally posted May 6, 2006:

OK, polka dots were not the only PATTERN/COLOR in the 1980s, but they were a riotous favorite, in every color and every size...often all at once! Stripes came in a close second, and many bold patterns found their place in the sun.

Colors, too, were often loud and clear, from the top of the head, to the tip of the toe.

Striped thigh highs, Betsey Johnson. Shoes, Charles David designed by Nathalie M.

Christian Lacroix

KenzoSweater by Bennetton. Skirt, Street Life. Boots, Koss by Diego Della Valle. Blanket, KenzoCardigan by Moschino. Bag, Tony Bryant Designs

Skirts by Moschino. Shoes, left to right, Mario Valentino, Nina Footwear and Fratelli Rossetti for Geoffrey Beene
Update August 10, 2009:

For fall 2009, designers have continued a recent trend toward highlighter brights, with the purest form in the hands of Michael Kors:

Distinctly 80s-looking bright patterns were seen on Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs' Louis Vuitton runways:

Dots were suavely mixed by Esteban Cortazar for Ungaro, and look, he's even pulled out the 80s pouf skirt to keep them company!

Dolce & Gabbana again, this time with a bright pink party frock and polka dots that would not have looked out of place in the 80s. Spot on!



80s fashion redux, part 8: Gold, silver, ethnic, flash, glitter and knockout extravagance

(This is the eighth in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

The 80s had a you can't contain me vibe, with big hair, big shoulders, frothy skirts, underwear as outerwear, bright prints and colors...and of course strong jewelry. Jewelry showed our love of material things, and our fervor for fashion. If I had to choose one 80s-style bold jewelry item for fall 2009, it would be a necklace, the most convincing of pieces being shown.

Originally posted April 30, 2006:

This is too easy! It is actually a bit hard to find 80s fashion photos without strong jewelry!

Large earrings and brooches, clusters of pins and bracelets, Chanel-like (better yet actual Chanel) multiple ropes of chains and pearls, big ethnic beads, flashy bejeweled crosses...To call it the decade of OUTGOING JEWELRY is a positive understatement! Watches were so important that I'll give them their own time later.

Brooch, Verdura. Cuff, John Iversen

David Millman bracelets and earrings

Earrings and necklace by Alan MacDonald for Ozbek. Jacket, Ozbek

Pins, Sentimento. Bracelet, The Franklin Mint. Outfit, Jean Paul Gaultier

Star pins by Anni & Co., and Richard Lindsay. Shirt, OMO Norma Kamali. Jacket, Malisy. Pants, Plein Sud by Fayal Amor

Earrings, Fabrice. Blazer and sweater by Charvet

Update August 10, 2009:

I'm not sure if real women are there yet, but we're headed there. Designers from Donna Karan to Consuelo Castiglioni (Marni) are making bold, if not huge statements with jewelry, particularly necklaces. The collage-y found-object looks are particularly 80s looking to my eyes. It is almost a paean to the 1980s to show watch faces as did Dolce & Gabbana.

Dolce & Gabbana's timely looks

Donna Karan's cool geometrics

Marni's earthy collages

Lanvin's industrial machine parts

Jason Wu stilettos and Neo-New Wave Marc Jacobs

Pretty opulence from Bottega Veneta and Zac Posen



80s fashion redux, part 7: The Opulent 80s

(This is the seventh in my series of posts on 80s fashion trends and the impact they are having on current fashion. If you'd like to read from the beginning, please start with my blog of July 23.)

In my post from 2006, I wrote that the 80s were years of opulent, conspicuous finery. The 1950s were reincarnated in haute couture details and feminine lines, and no one designer symbolized this trend so thoroughly as Christian Lacroix.

This year, ironically, Lacroix himself is struggling for the survival of his design house, even while designers seem deeply influenced by his work. Marc Jacobs in particular seems entranced by the party frock à la Lacroix.

Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton
Originally posted April 26, 2006:It almost goes without saying that 80s fashion experienced a renaissance of glamour and OPULENCE. It allowed the nouveau riche to feather themselves finely, even conspicuously. Party clothes were most spectacular, and couture looks permeated all the clothing markets.

In the atelier of Christian Lacroix, exquisite embroidery and beading were hand sewn--a return to traditional workmanship fit for a queen.

Victor Edelstein gownShoes, Antologia for CallaghanGlove, Christian Lacroix for Diego Della Valle. Silk parasol by A. Sanoma
Dress, Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Purse, Pellegrino for Linda Dresner. Shoes, Stuart Weitzman

Update August 7, 2009:I end this with the sad irony I mentioned earlier: Just as opulent 80s-style party dresses are being revived by fashion designers, the master of the form stands with his future in limbo. In 2009 Christian Lacroix's fashion house, owned by duty-free retailer Falic Fashion Group, put the business into administration and laid off all but 12 workers.

Sarah Mower, writing for
, movingly described the last minute and shoestring-budgeted Lacroix haute couture Fall 2009 show as

one of the most poignant and emotionally fraught haute couture shows ever...only made possible by the collective will and donated time and skills of the seamstresses, embroiderers, jewelers, milliners, and shoemakers loyal to Christian Lacroix...Only the models were paid—€50 each, according to French law — but they too ended up in tears. "I didn't want to cry," said Lacroix, amid a standing ovation and a tumult of support from clients. "I want to continue, maybe in a different way, with a small atelier. What I really care about is the women who do this work."
His color palate was, for Lacroix, monumentally restrained, but the beauty, refinement and sheer loveliness (to use a 50s term) made this show, along with his ready to wear line for fall, preternaturally à la mode.
Lacroix ready to wear

Lacroix haute couture



80s fashion redux, part 6: New Beauty in the 80s

The 80s got a bad rap for having certain over-promulgated styles, like curly perms, bushy eyebrows and teased up, big hair. However, any glance at a mid-1980s fashion magazine like Elle shows that fashionable hair was smooth, long, sleek, short, curled, kinky, teased; eyebrows were natural, full, thin; eyes were smoky, natural; lips were red, other words, many styles were in style. Still, the extremes seem to characterize the 80s, and in this post I look back with some wistfulness at the strong, adventuresome looks of that decade.

On the other topic of this blog, a fascinating assessment of New York's Fall 2009 fashion week and women models of color can be read at An "Obama effect" had been anticipated, and there seems to have indeed been an increase in models of color strutting the runways, although still not in proportion to the population of the US. I can't find any statistics on the percentage of non-white models in the 1980s, but there certainly were some very famous examples, including the ultra-supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Originally posted April 23, 2006:

Every fashion era has new beauty ideals, and perhaps this topic had best be called NEW BEAUTY.

At first, all these ideals seemed unconventional, but only in the context of what had transpired before. As you can see from my previous posts here, there were some exaggerated looks in hair, makeup and clothing in the 80s, and here are just several of many more. Extremes were part of the fashion currency.

Outfit by Rifat Ozbek

Coat by Nigel Preston, shirt by Yohji Yamamoto and skirt by Comme des Garcons

In addition, there were more women of mixed, or non-European ethnic and racial backgrounds portrayed in the media than ever before, although still not nearly in proportion to the population or to the viewer/readership.

Givenchy by John Galliano worn by Naomi Campbell

Update August 4, 2009:

Will we again have the full-blown eyebrows that Brooke Shields made fashionable in the 80s? I think that the style in which we clothe ourselves will come first, with stronger (more structured, more obviously fashionable, starker, brighter) clothing demanding a stronger face and hair to balance. I wouldn't buy a case of hairspray just yet, but I would try my hand at a strong feature. Whether you choose to channel Debbie Harry or Naomi Campbell is up to you. It is so 80s to have a choice.