Why are we so obsessed with the ’80s?

Back to the future.

‘[D]on’t YOU forget about me…’ sing Simple Minds as John Bender fist pumps at the sky. Credits roll. 30+ years later and I’ll never tire of re-watching the feel-good fiesta that is The Breakfast Club. IMO John Hughes’ 1985 classic resonates with everyone – the anxiety-ridden teens years never ‘skip’ a generation. It’s a rite of passage.

Naturally, the world has moved on somewhat since that film was made.  Then: rise of Thatcherism, the Internet was Not A Thing and third wave feminism was in its infancy. Now: former reality stars are in The White House, we live in a #SocialAge and the F word is very much “in vogue”. And yet designers still can’t seem to shake the ghost of ’80s past.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by BRENDAN BEIRNE/REX Shutterstock (125657b)
BOY GEORGE AND LEIGH BOWERY
'Blitz' Designer Collection Fashion Show at the Albery Theatre, London, Britain - 1986

You couldn’t hide from fashion’s big throwback during AW15 (yep, way back when) – jewel-toned lurex were given a luxe-over and your mum’s retro blazer that appeared two sizes too big made its way onto your ‘gram.

Fast forward and the AW17 runway is nothing short of a love letter to the Working Girl-wardrobes of that time with loose tailoring and wide shoulders enjoying a revival at Joseph, Victoria Beckham and Eudon Choi. Katharine Hamnett – the inventor of the slogan tee in the ‘80s– is relaunching her own brand this year. And it’s not just designer’s getting in on the action; Grace Jones is subject of a new highly anticipated biopic, Dynasty is set for a reboot (er, finally!) and Bananarama are back together. Have we officially reached peak nostalgia?

Victoria Beckham AW17

The allure of the eighties aesthetic is complex. On the surface it was about celebrating opulence; bigger hair, bigger shoulders, much bigger earrings. Haute drama was hot on the agenda.

Behind the scenes there was a fierce synergy between the fragmented Boy George swag and what was happening politically. Ronald Reagan helped the rich get richer; Nancy Reagan effectively helped define 1980s American glamour and eschewed minimalism in favour of lavish gowns and blindingly bright power suits. Across the pond Britain was also divided (“If you said you were a Tory at university you’d probably be beaten up! It seemed like a scary, uncertain place then under Thatcher for a lot of young people I think,’ my mother says, a student in the ‘80s).

And so here we are: 2017. In Trumpian / Brexit times. You can’t help but think today’s creatives aren’t so much looking back for inspiration.

We’ve come full circle.