1980s fashion has often been the butt of jokes, but now high-fashion designers are embracing the feel of the decade.
The 1980s, the more-is-more era, have never left us. It’s been a touchstone for fashion, music and popular culture, remembered fondly but with a shudder, as the butt of jokes and youthful indiscretions with hairstyles and shoulder heights.
But a strange thing has been happening. The formerly irredeemable 1980s, it seems, are creeping back to the fore.
“I do see that coming around again,” says Duncan Sheik, who wrote the music and lyrics for “American Psycho,” a musical set in the ’80s that recently opened on Broadway.
“I think for a long time people made fun of the ’80s aesthetic, and it was something that was derided in Adam Sandler movies,” Sheik says. “But in fact a lot of really cool stuff happened in the ’80s. In some way, hopefully, ‘American Psycho’ does justice to the aesthetic of the era.”
The men’s fashion e-tailer Mr Porter signed up as the men’s wardrobe partner for the Broadway production and provided clothing from its stock to costume the cast — an easier task circa 2016 than may be initially imagined.
“There is a slight ’80s movement sort of sifting into fashion at the moment,” says Jeremy Langmead, Mr Porter’s brand and content director.
“Double-breasted jackets are very fashionable at the moment,” Langmead says, and “even though the fit’s slimmer and the shoulder is less terrifying than in the ’80s, pinstripes are fashionable again.”
In women’s fashion, too, the ’80s are making a return. When, at Paris Fashion Week this March, shoulders began climbing up and out, it was an early warning sign, of sorts.
Hedi Slimane, among the most imitated designers at the moment, swerved dramatically from the scruffy nonchalance of his recent Saint Laurent collections into a high-gloss, high-drama register that screamed 1980s. (It would be his final collection for Saint Laurent; the house announced his departure a month later.)
Slimane was not alone. Eighties styles bubbled up throughout Paris Fashion Week: in new-direction looks from Lanvin, Kenzo and Isabel Marant, to name a few.
For Marant, whose name is nearly synonymous with Parisian bohemians, the move toward oversize, pin-cinched coats, screaming prints and New Wave mash-up styling seemed especially pronounced — even if Marant didn’t see the shift as seismic as her audience did.
“Things that I love, I will always love them,” she said by phone from Paris.
She disputed the notion that there was one ’80s style. For her, she says, the joy of the ’80s was the freedom to dabble in many: rockabilly one day, new wave the next. Think of 1980s icons who piled on vintage and secondhand looks with reckless abandon, women like Cyndi Lauper.
“I think that there are very strong different points of view, like we had in the ’80s,” she says. “I feel that something of this spirit is coming back.”