While it's all too fun – and easy – to take pot shots at some outfits from the 80s, we can't deny its recent resurgence on the catwalks. From high-shine fabrics and outlandish ruffles to yoga-ready leggings and outsized knits, we're seeing 80s style outfits coming back strong. While the SS16 shows revealed nostalgia for 70s bohemia, AW16/17 had an unmistakable 80s tone. Menswear designers got in on the act too – models were sent out in wide-leg trousers, XXL pinstripes and flight suits. Absent the 'Rio'-style mullets and with cleaner tailoring, it actually worked. Designers from Ashish to Versace are showing us how to incorporate 80s fashion trends into contemporary wardrobes.
Power suits and statement shoulders
When you think of 1980s style, it all comes down to the shoulders: the larger, the better. From Dallas to Dynasty, pop culture of the time celebrated powerful women with exaggerated silhouettes and loud, graphic-printed suits. Although relegated to the thrift stores in the 90s and 00s, they've been coming back with a vengeance courtesy of labels like Balmain and Saint Laurent. Sharp, oversized shoulder pads and nipped-in waists are where it's at, as long as you're channelling Dynasty's formidable Alexis Carrington rather than Maggie Thatcher. A bold Balmain shirt tucked into high-waisted jeans achieves the look, as does a Thierry Mugler vintage jacket.
An 80s style outfit for men was less structured – think Duran Duran’s signature longline blazers in pale pastel shades. Outsized detailing and graphic patterns were hugely popular, however, largely down to the Prince of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Fast-forward to London SS17, where windowpane checks and bold pinstripes made a return. Agi & Sam jackets featured oversized checks and were styled with cropped bombers layered on top, mixing decades with a 40s twist on 80s clothes. Sibling offered vertical and horizontal stripes of all widths across the collection. At Lou Dalton, elegant drop-shoulder jackets in navy and white recalled the off-duty wardrobes of cosmopolitan 80s men.
Cow prints and question marks: Moschino
Franco Moschino’s eponymous label joined the fashion playground in 1983, and almost instantly became famous for his innovative and eccentric designs. Known for their sardonic edge, his catwalk shows were peppered with cow print, slogans and question marks from the start. With Jeremy Scott at the helm today, the colourful label holds true to its 80s heritage.
His womenswear collections embrace the idiosyncratic irony and tongue-in-cheek humour of the founder. AW15 saw the release of a perfume shaped like a bottle of window cleaner, while AW16 was ablaze with high-impact shades and lashings of zip-adorned leather. Designs for his Moschino AW16 catwalk continued the theme with metallic jackets in rose, gold and green paraded in front of us, reflecting the 80s fashion trend for high-shine finishes.
Bondage gear and stop-sign red: Versace
Versace’s 80s woman was a force to be reckoned with. The striking ads in the early 80s cemented the Italian label’s place in the industry, as well as the careers of top models such as Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. Gianni Versace opted for highly sexualised glamour and sensuality. From bondage gear to polyvinyl baby-doll dresses, Versace rode the tide between vulgar and high fashion with every season. His brazen prints and short, tight minidresses came to define the era.
Now in the care of Donatella, the brand has barely strayed from her brother’s blueprint: hemlines have lengthened and colours are more muted, but vertiginous heeled boots in stop-sign red and dresses with thigh-high slits still entertained the front row in AW16. Donatella shows us, season after season, how to wear 80s fashion in a new, grown-up way.
Party like it’s 1985
There is no better sign of an 80s style outfit coming back to contemporary wardrobes than evening wear. The decade wasn’t associated with excess for nothing: revellers relished outlandish lamé and puffball skirts in eye-watering colours. Although the fabrics have thankfully calmed down a bit these days, many designers are now looking back to the decade of indulgence for inspiration. Saint Laurent embraced the late 80s party girl for SS16: models with slicked-back hair, weighty lipstick and almost theatrical shoulders stalked down the catwalk. Ashish tops were heavily embellished with sequins – a staple of 80s outfits.
For the evening, men’s 80s fashion drew heavily on pop culture. From Jackson to the New Romantics, in the late 80s men were dressing up and dipping into feminine styling. An androgynous aesthetic took the underground scene by storm – long, lace collars and cuffs were a standard, along with heavy eye makeup and form-fitting trousers. AW16 JW Anderson took inspiration from the 80s dark romance: longline silhouettes in metallic and midnight shades dominated the JW Anderson collection. Balmain, however, took its lead from another realm: models in high-shine military jackets echoed the Prince of Pop’s penchant for gold braid parade garb.