Retrofuturism: reshaping fashion - part II

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The 1980’s was the decade when I was born. Decade full of changes, in general. Fashion in the 80’s was heavily influenced by economics and lifestyle changes. From the immaculately polished styles presented by Ralph Lauren, Armani and Calvin Klein, to the fashion forward design houses such as Margiela and Alaïa who were reshaping clothing conventions beyond what we could ever imagine. The phrase 'less is more' did not seem to apply during the 80’s. The decade was all about vivid color, excessive volume, geometric shapes, experimentation, and self-expression.
There was an alternative side as well: fashion that was born out of the underground and performance art movements between the London, New York and Berlin club scenes; fashion where names such as Thierry Mugler and Azzedine Alaïa stands as progenitors of a new movement.

Azzedine Alaïa

The enigmatic Tunisian-born couturier and shoe designer, Azzedine Alaïa is one of the few names (in this list) who creates fashion outside of trends - literally and ideologically. Alaïa's garments appear engineered rather than simply sewn. In 1980, he presented his first ready to wear shows after working for several couture houses and opening his first intimate atelier.

Claude Montana

During the 80’s, Montana's passion for leather earned him a central position on the international fashion radar. He epitomized the power look alongside Thierry Mugler. His spectacular fashion shows were highly anticipated events and his creations were considered modern and unique of that time.

Jean Paul Gaultier

There's not much that needs to be said about the fashion world's bad boy who loved to provoke. His style was always ahead of its time. Gaultier’s designs were swinging along with his mood and inspiration; a designer with a charming smile who enjoyed combining various styles, mixing the feminine with the masculine and was the designer who created the famous cone bra that Madonna wore. What can be cooler than that?

Stephen Jones

One of the world's most radical and important milliners of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Jones worked with and for everyone. His work is known for its inventiveness and the high level of technical expertise with which he realizes his ideas.

Maison Martin Margiela

The Belgian designer known for his deconstructionism and artsy designs that subvert classic tailoring techniques with reverse seams, recycled textiles, and industrial materials. Margiela has made discretion a trademark: no public appearances, subtle tags and the employee uniform white overalls, all contribute to this modesty. 

Thierry Mugler

The French designer whose creations reshaped and sublimated women's bodies. Mugler is the top name on my list of most favorite and important creators both within the fashion industry, and outside of it. His innovative creations are ahead of anyone's time. Mugler never publicly considered his designs to be futuristic, he describes them as 'sexy and powerful'. The work he contributed in the 80’s were remembered as a application of various materials: vinyl, leather and metal together with extravagant shows from another dimension... or, as I call it: ‘a place were art meets science'.

Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto

These Japanese designers appeared on the Parisian scene in 1981. Both shared a love for voluminous, poetic and severe black garments; epitomizing the deconstructionist movement. 

Before we hit the 90’s, here are the names of some style icons that were significant in the 80’s and helped inspired those that defined the 90’s: Leigh Bowery, Klaus Nomi, Boy George, Annie Lennox, Grace Jones, and Club Kids.


The 90’s were a decade that defined me. Clarifying the real differences between the 80’s and the 90’s can be challenging. All the synthetic materials, crazy shapes, and vivid colors that were very noticeable at the end of the 80’s, lasted somewhat until the mid 90’s. A majority of designers were still highly influenced by the previous decade. Well, how could they not to be? But, as time passed, everything got a bit looser; but we won’t hold that against them. Nothing that a spritz of CK One could not fix!

Alexander McQueen

The fashion world wouldn't be the same without him. McQueen was known for his emotional and dramatic looks, as well as powerful and edgy romanticism presented in a contemporary direction.

Ann Demeulemeester

The Belgian designer, and member of the “Antwerp Six”, Demeulemeester was a representative of the avant-garde fashion scene. In 1996 she released her eponymous label, and became known for her deconstructive and atypical designs. The main inspiration for Demeulemeester was androgynous singer Patti Smith.
A majority of the people might not agree with me that she belong here, but, in my opinion her dark and emotional aesthetic dictates the artistic side of 90’s fashion.

Philip Treacy

The Mad Hatter! All sizes and shapes in a sheer variety of styles that one could ever imagine. By wearing his hats, only one thing was guaranteed: you would be noticed.

Hussein Chalayan

Another name whose designs I love - the experimental creator who keeps pushing boundaries of wearable fashion even now today. Chalayan launched his label in 1994 and since then he keeps questioning everything around us in the fashion he creates: anthropology, environment, politics and philosophy.
A self-titled "weaver of different worlds”, Chalayan keeps reshaping the trends we know today with innovative uses of technology, leaving us speechless.

So, when you sum things up, the whole Sci-fi space-inspired fashion stayed for the most part in the 60’s and 70’s. Retrofuturism in the 80’s and 90’s was all about colors, shoulder pads, neon tints, geometry, deconstruction, underground clubs, sub-cultures, and experimentation.
Whether you remember these fashion trends from first hand experience or whether you are just interested in researching what fashion was like back then, the point is to continue being creative and enjoy the journey of self-expression through clothing.

(End of part II)

Source: Wikipedia, The Red List


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