The 1980s birthed more fashion icons than any other decade, hands down, and this is why... Madonna
From Princess Diana to Madonna, Joan Collins to Boy George, there was a style idol for everyone and, as one of fashion’s most experimental eras, clothes were used to define personalities and make big statements. Like your shoulders padded up to your ears? Talk to Lady Diana, or the Dynasty cast. Fancy giving peacock punk a whirl? Meet Boy George at the Blitz club.
As electro foil fabrics and power shoulders get set to dominate our AW15 wardrobes, we’re taking a look back at the people who started the trends in the first place…
Her Madgesty burst onto the pop scene in 1983, working haute scrunchies, leathers and tutus like we’d never seen before. We fell in love (naturally) and the queen of pop reigned on for the rest of the decade, breaking style boundaries with her incredible physique and conical bras.
Lady Diana Spencer
It’s silly of us to even try to sum up Princess Diana’s impact on fashion and culture in one short paragraph, but if we had to, we would say this: she was the trendsetter of a generation, a champion of the power shoulder and that sooo 80s wedding dress has literally gone down as one of the biggest in history.
This jacket is exactly what the 80s were all about. Shall we call it eye-catching? The power jacket became a Michael Jackson style signature and one of the most copied cuts of the decade. The iconic piece went on to sell for $1.8million at auction in 2011, described by its new owner as ‘the greatest piece of rock memorabilia ever’.
The leader of London’s peacock punks, Boy George saw 1980s fashion as art. With his gang of ‘Blitz kids’ including Leigh Bowery and Stephen Jones, he turned the club scene into a colourful catwalk, dressing as though their lives depended on it and partying so hard it made headlines. The only styling rule for this lot? Anything goes.
Ahhh Joan Collins. The queen of 80s TV inspired thousands of big hair ‘dos and heavy make-up statements throughout the decade. Her character, the soap’s villain Alexis Colby, had a wardrobe of puff shoulder dresses and trophy jackets that was so bad, it was so so good.
If the 80s were all about making style statements, then no one did it more literally than designer Katharine Hamnett. The inventor of the slogan tee, she used her design powers for good, conveying oh so subtle political messages and encouraging people to use their voices.
We couldn’t do an ode to 1980s fashion without mentioning the original queen of keep fit, Jane Fonda. The award-winning actress was the first major star to do an exercise video, making legwarmers and Lycra as important to the decade as the power shoulders.
The hair bows, the pedal pushers, the slogan tees! This 1986 snap of Bananarama, aka Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey and Keren Woodward, was everything our school disco dreams were made of.
From The Breakfast Club to Pretty In Pink, the Brat Pack dominated the decade’s teen movies, with one idol always stealing the show as the prettiest, most popular girl in school. Oh come on, don’t pretend you didn’t want to be her.
New Romantic style and guyliner are two of our very favourite things to come out of the 1980s fashion scene. Adam Ant mixed punk, military, dandy and pirate references in fantastic effects – just look at that trophy jacket.
The First Supermodels
Lauren Hutton! Janice Dickinson! Iman! The 1980s heralded the first wave of truly super supermodels as demand for the very best models increased tenfold and contract fees began to spiral towards the giant figures stars can command today. Chanel signed their first ‘exclusive’ booking, Debbie Parsons, in 1981 and everyone from Brooke Shields to Elle ‘The Body’ Macpherson started to endorse household products. Iman (1987) is officially our new season jewellery icon.
Love this? Relive the best style moments of the 1970s, here.