7 WAYS THE 80S HAVE RETURNED FOR SPRING 2018
MANY OF THE DECADE’S KEY SILHOUETTES HAVE STAGED A COMEBACK
Everything old is relatively new again – seen through a new lens or retooled for present-day consumers. Over the past five years, we’ve revisited every major trend of the ‘90s – and continue to do so this season – and dabbled briefly and indirectly with the ‘70s in AW17. The ‘80s seemed to have been holding out on us, but for SS18, many of the decade’s key silhouettes have staged a comeback. You won’t look like Prince or a hair-metal rock star; rather, designers seem entranced by everyday ordinariness – with a dash of dance music tossed in.
The Return of the Corporate Suit
For dressing sharp on the job, the ‘80s were the best and the worst of times. The era of the power suit brought about the “dress for success” concept, but shoulder pads, high-waist trousers, and braces don’t look good on anyone, no matter how much you’ve got in the bank. Yet, AW17 and now SS18 have indirectly revived the power suit, in a disjointed, distorted form that’s less “dress for success” and more “unflatteringly fabulous.” Balenciaga’s last two presentations exaggerate the template’s framework – higher waists with more room around the hips, long, boxy blazers, and trouser legs bunched up around the ankles. The conclusion comes off as a mix of thrift-shop corporate and post-Soviet, rather than polished and put together. On the other hand, Yang Li’s Miami Vice-meets-Scarface suits act as both a straightforward and straight-faced revival: Wider proportions with structuring and pleats, paired with multiple shades of brown, nod to their origins without making an obvious retro grab.
New Romantic and New Wave Suiting
Many simply dismiss New Romantic fashions as Victorian-meets-pirate couture, and New Wave as its boxier, neon, more androgynous cousin. Yet, in hindsight, both took the stodgy, staid, and frequently formal suit and, through what seemed like boundary-pushing cuts, patterns, and materials, turned it into something fun to wear. Last year, Dior appeared to revive this concept with its multi-decade-channeling ode to electronic music and nights spent going out. A year later, what’s now dubbed the party suit has caught on. Ann Demeulemeester, under the direction of Sébastien Meunier, accents the unstructured silhouettes with floral imagery, throws in sharp black-and-white contrasts, and finished its runway looks with loose, open-front shirts. Charles Jeffrey Loverboy took the “party” concept literally, too, unveiling a collection that looks like Andy Warhol threw a party at Manchester’s former Hacienda Club and invited Soft Cell to perform. On the other hand, the era’s electronic music frequently came with an image of structured uniformity – one likely reflective of the synthesizer’s progressive sound and simultaneous technological limitations. As the other side of decadence, Topman and Lemaire both seem to want to dress Devo or Kraftwerk with their monochrome or all-over patterned ensembles featuring high waists, tapered legs, and billowing sleeves.
Bum Bags are Back
Who would’ve thought? Indicating that maybe legwarmers and high hair aren’t far behind, albeit in subdued forms for 2018, the bum bag has revived itself from the realm of “never again” fashion trends. However, designers aren’t returning to the flimsy, woven nylon designs of three decades ago. Instead, new construction focuses on both quality and convenience – essentially, a leather bag you can clip around your waist to hold your basics – and comes with heavy branding. If you aren’t prepared for large logos and monogrammed prints, stick with your messenger bag, and leave this oddity to the celebrities and Instagram stars.
Distressed, Bleached, and Embellished Jeans
The ‘80s are responsible for two overarching denim trends. Designer jeans took what seemed ordinary and slapped a high-end label on it – think Calvin Klein and Jordache. Yet, away from now-banal status symbols, the decade’s later years took distressed denim to the max: rips, tears, fading, and acid wash, not to mention splatter paint, studs, and patches. 2018 has a similar dichotomy. On one hand, designers have championed the “dad jean” – mid-wash, high-waist, tapered, and a natural complement to this year’s “dad shoe.” As its counterpart, distressed denim emerged again last year, after what seemed like a six-year dry spell for jeans. Within a more modern silhouette – forget those tapered legs and high waists – you’ve got a nearly identical assortment: Lots of fading, whiskering, tears, and rips, bleaching, patches, embroidery, and patchwork construction. Essentially, unless you’re beating dowdy vintage style over the head, you’ve got to take today’s trends and deconstruct them with yesterday’s methods.
Everything’s Gone Neon
As with pastels, menswear has a love-hate relationship with neon. Every four or five years or so, some shocking, acid-tinged group of shades returns – remember all that neon yellow back in 2012? – and then promptly fades out, and falls out of favour, in 12 months’ time. We started cycling back here close to a year ago, starting with SS17’s acid house-influenced trend digging up and putting neon green, pink, and orange back in the spotlight. Completing what’s really an assortment of highlighter shades applied to shirts and jackets, SS18 sees yellow – in acid to egg yolk to golden forms – return as one of the season’s must-wear colours.
Shoulder Pads on Jackets
Looking at Iceberg’s SS18 collection, it’s clear that Duran Duran’s “Reflex” video must’ve had some degree of influence. Often, when we talk about the decade’s shoulder pads, it’s within the context of power suits, but plenty of casual jackets contained this strange structural oddity. Simon LeBon’s two-tone jacket essentially stole the show back in 1983, and for SS18, that similar boost has made its way into formerly slope-shouldered bombers and moto jackets.
What seems like an oddity today – a guy wearing casual or athletic shorts cut mid-thigh or even higher – was commonplace 30-plus years ago – just look at footage of any older NBA game. However, there’s practicality in this style, in that, with the right materials and cut, it stays out of the way and lets you move. While stretch chino shorts claim to give you the same sensation, runway collections – with Prada being the paradigm in this case – show there’s no shame in trimming off a few inches.