A Wild Decade is Back
Oversized coats, sparkly brooches, miniskirts and belt bags – the 80’s are back! At least some key pieces are to be seen once again on catwalks and above all on the sidewalks of major German cities.
Falco, the Austrian pop superstar of that decade, has said that if one can remember the 80’s one wasn’t really there. But for most people we can safely say that they do not want to remember the fashion of the era, most definitely not if they were there – most things were too loud and garish, at least in youth culture, for example tiger leggings, lace gloves and neon leg warmers. And what in those times was not colourful was at least quite short, like the leather skirts, or quite large, like most tops. People combined pieces with wild abandon and not always with a command of style; everything seemed permissible as long as it was fun. Influences often came direct and unfiltered to catwalks from fitness studios or US ghettos. On the other hand, elegant fashion designers such as Giorgio Armani also determined the look of those years, and it was in the 80’s that purist German designer Jil Sander, with her high standards for cut and quality, was forever immortalised as Queen of Less.
The 80’s revival is also a German street style phenomenonAt the moment it seems as though it’s not the elegant purity, but rather the loud, fun side of the 80’s that is roaring back from oblivion. Not in all details, and in Germany not as dominantly on catwalks as in England, where J.W. Anderson and Gareth Pugh delight fashionistas with uncompromising 80’s style.
But on the street as well, we are seeing more and more plastic earrings, big-hair perms and oversized coats. In Berlin’s gallery neighbourhoods, where Germany’s trends for the coming years are reliably set, we are seeing young women in mom jeans – high-waisted carrot pants and topped off with an abundance of teased curly hair – and no more skinny jeans or the legendary Berlin hipster topknot that once made its way from there around the world as the It hair style. Throw a huge blazer over everything, and there you have it – the current Berlin boheme look. Wearers are also increasingly knotting scrunchies – large elasticised velvet hair bands – into their hair and carrying round sunglasses from the Mykita/Damir Doma collection in a print belt bag when out and about.
By contrast, with Bobby Kolade, Michael Sonntag and Malaika Raiss, three fashion designers who primarily channel the early ‘Naughts are currently prevailing on official catwalks in Berlin. However, shooting star Kolade’s colourful collections also clearly reveal borrowings from the 80’s. And Kaviar Gauche, a label that for some time now has enjoyed considerable success with fringe bags, presents itself, if not with the colourful side of this era, then surely with its dark, rock variant.
German-Georgian Demna Gvasalia presents the anarchistic side of 80’s fashionInternationally as well, Germans are on the 80’s bandwagon, starting with Karl Lagerfeld, who has just brought out two-tone sling pumps that could have come straight out of those times, to Jil Sander, co-inventor of power dressing back when, and is decidedly finding her way back to it again with new creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga. The first German edition of French fashion magazine L´Officiel is accordingly offering readers an 80’s sequence entitled Born to be wild, in which Jil Sander and Chanel set strong accents.
However, the most exciting development could be Demna Gvasalia. The German-Georgian, darling of the fashion scene, is a member of the design collective Vetements and is Balenciaga’s new creative director. His references to the 80’s are evident: oversized cuts, overlong sleeves and de-constructed dresses reference the decade’s avant-garde aspect, channelling Martin Margiela and the Antwerp School. After all, this too is an important element of a period that has been dissed as a bling-bling decade: where there’s lots of glamour, counter-movements also always emerge. Intellectually rigorous, bristly collections that were more often than not impractical for daily wear also appeared on 80’s catwalks.