Fashion: The Style Decade

The 1980s spawned a colorful array of new styles, with visionaries in the worlds of music and fashion rising in direct relation to one another. As the decade advanced, it was the designers that made the greater cultural impact, with the likes of Anthony Price, Stephen Linard, Rachel Auburn and the milliner Stephen Jones moving from clubs to catwalks just as their musical counterparts (Boy George, Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet) were falling off the charts and airwaves.

By contrast, the progressive era of 1969-1975 produced little talent in the realm of fashion, for it was not an age in which creativity as applied to costuming was encouraged or even understood, with the antiquated notion of ‘rawness over refinement’ condemning beauty to the cultural backwaters for longer than a lustrum. Granted, the hippy styles were a reaction towards the more constrictive modes of grooming which had preceded them, making the attendant slack drapery more an exercise in freedom itself than a vision of creative expression. And the musicians recognized these limitations, opting for elaborate, surreal artwork to front their visuals in lieu of their uncomely, hirsute selves. A revisit of GQ from this period reveals a void in which the model likeness of the fashion world was complimented by a scant few in the realm of pop, namely Bryan Ferry and David Bowie.

One of the most liberating things about punk in the UK was that it spawned a rebirth in autonomous streetwear. But it wasn’t until the early 1980s – when a select coterie of budding stylists dressed the spunky punk motifs with regal embellishments – that London exerted it’s first major influence on the Paris runways since the mid ’60s, with the opulent luster and robust silhouette of the New Romantics forming the aesthetic catalyst for a bold new era, henceforth known as the Style Decade.

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