Fashion’s Refined Revival Asks “Where Were You in ’82?”

While we’ve sadly just lost our stylish former 80’s era First Lady, several signs have recently appeared indicating that the decade that brought us such tasteless, overblown fashion, is back in a “big” way. Perhaps I’m living in my own “Private Idaho” having just seen The B-52’s in concert where a few of their fans apparently never throw anything out. That, coupled with fashion’s desire to pay homage to David Bowie will be a large influence going forward, some of which we’re already witnessing. Thankfully, there’s been no resurgence of those diaper sized shoulder pads (although Hedi Slimane just tried to make ginormous shoulder ruffles happen) or shiny neon spandex — the trends, or hallmarks I’m referring to are more subtle. They include wide western style belts, extreme denim footwear and Isabella Rossellini’s turn at Lancome.

My actual 80s belt

“Waist” Not, Want Not: Did various iterations of this waist cincher recently walk down the PFW Maison Margiela runway or am I hallucinating?  From someone who actually “waisted” the 80’s, the sight of this ultra wide ceinture elicited a yelp of familiar glee. Miraculously, many of my super wide belts are still present and accounted for (some even still fit, albeit on looser holes) and this particular sighting made me run to my closet to retrieve a facsimile.

Kendall Jenner in B-Low The Belt

Thank you Mr. Galliano for that stroll down memory lane. Unfortunately, there are no designer markings or tip offs as to who made my belt however I fondly remember the store in Philly (Knit Wit) where it was purchased. I noticed last fall that a company called B-Low The Belt tried, with some success to bring back the western style belt, however they kept theirs (as seen on Kendall, Gigi and other young models) on the mild side.

Rihanna in Manolo Blahnik boots

These Denim Boots Are Made For Stalking: Another of my fave items from that decadent decade, was a pair of El Vaquero embellished denim knee high boots with a 3″ stacked heel which I wore on constant rotation. Although denim boots never really went away (Rihanna actually featured a denim patchwork bootie in her first foray into fashion with her River Island collection) be on the lookout for the new and improved version. I can’t wait to see the upcoming Rihanna/Manolo Blahnik capsule collection called “Denim Desserts” arriving in stores May 5. There are seven limited edition blinged-out shoe styles ranging from $895 to $3,995 set to make their debut, however one named “9 to 5” (just like the 1980 movie but you definitely won’t want to wear these to the office!) is garnering the most attention.

Rihanna feels so strongly about these “dangerous” boots that she’s afraid you “won’t make it home to your bed” but will fall victim to a kidnapper in these. Yahoo Style calls them “the footwear version of ass-less chaps” and indeed one can see why. RiRi has also said that should she spy someone wearing them she will run up to that person and take a selfie. No word on what she’ll do if she encounters any of the other six styles but I imagine it would not involve pulling out her phone. Interestingly, these wild boots rely on a jeweled garter of sorts to hold them up, thereby incorporating the western belt theme into the mix. Always nice to embrace two trends in one!

Isabella Rossellini Lancome ad 1983

Eighties Icon Isabella Returns: The eighties just wouldn’t have been the same without those Lancome ads featuring Ms. Rossellini.  Then a fresh faced 31 year old, now a still radiant 63 year old, don’t be surprised if the French brand claims credit. I’m actually sort of surprised that she forgave them after being quite vocal about being dumped at age 40 after her 10 year contract ran out.  “They fired me because I was strong,” she said at the time. “They hired a younger woman with raven hair to replace me.”

Isabella Rossellini for Manifesto Cosmetics

Soon after that, Rossellini started her own makeup line called Manifesto, employing women of all ages, races and sizes. Now it appears that Lancome has jumped on board the trend of using more mature women in ads such as Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, Joan Didion at Celine, or Diane Keaton for L’Oreal, hopefully providing a more positive role model for young and older alike.  “If you look at most beauty advertisements, you would think that makeup is only for beautiful women in their early 20s,” Rossellini once said, “[but] older women like seeing older women in ads, and younger women do, too—because they see them and are not frightened of growing older.” I’ve noted that these are all French based companies who generally venerate aging. Just ask Iris Apfel, the geriatric superstar who was the toast of Paris during PFW with her Le Bon March exhibition/collaboration .

Marni Fall 2016 Collection
Stirrup pants

Back in the Saddle Again?: Unfortunately, this unwelcome visitor has returned. Stirrup pants, a vestige of the 80’s that I could definitely live without, reared their ugly hoof on the MFW Marni runway. Sorry, but I sincerely doubt that women who once wore this trend wish to revisit it! It’s your turn Millennials.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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