Saturday, 13 April 2013



Body Copy:

On the 9th of June 1983, the Conservative party won the election, ensuring Margaret Thatcher remains in office for a second term as Prime Minister. During the early 80s there were many protests around political and social issues disturbed by Thatcher’s power such as the mining strikes, and protests against unemployment.

Meanwhile, over the pond, Harold Washington won the Chicago elections, becoming the first black mayor within the United States; another sign that racism was fading, as several decades ago, any politician who was not white would not of been allowed to have an opinion let alone stand up for the United States and have major responsibilities.

Yves Saint Laurent exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, whilst upcoming designer at the time Krizia presented the Chrysler Building Collection and Llomo line.

The planning and project development for the Louvre in Paris remains strong and promising.

Witches, AW 1983-84
- Visit to New York, met Keith Haring. His art looked like magic signs and hieroglyphs. Therefore – collection ‘Witches’.
- Hip hop, styling of garments stop-frame look, white trainers customized with three tongues, pointed Chico Marx hats.

Karl Lagerfeld took over as artistic director for Chanel in 1983, and turned the label into a powerhouse. He took the reins with direction, trends, advertising and opinion, and insisted he did a better job at the role than Coco Chanel, who he claims “was all for men” and hated women. He ensured the classic Chanel aesthetics remained in tact; quilting, pearls, gold, peep toes shoes and a little black dress, finished with a minimalistic tag and advertising. 

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Body Copy:

1984 faced great historical change when Indira Ghandi was assassinated in New Delhi. A loss the world faced with sorrow and devastation, however optimism still lingered in the USA, with Ronald Reagan re-elected as President, meaning his ties with the UK, and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher remained firm. However, this didn’t stop international fashion designer Katharine Hamnett from challenging Thatcher with political t-shirts. A brave and bold statement that encouraged women to be outspoken, strong and opinionated. The topic of women’s rights and upcoming power was a popular reoccurrence throughout the decade. A fashion show; “The Genny Collection” was also put on at the White House. A sign that fashion is power. But with power comes good taste.

There were several events, which had a direct effect on society at the time; cyberpunk was invented, Apple computers were being advertised by Ridley Scott. This encouraged a futuristic approach to sell, and the Yuppies still remained strong buying into the Apple trend.  People magazine released “The Yuppie” handbook, which encouraged the fashions, the lifestyle and the personality. Being original was something that faded into the background; as the mainstream trends took over from the likes of Madonna and Denim wear.

Vivienne Westwood makes another statement by designing gym shoes. Designer gym shoes were not heard of before, and came as a fresh, innovative idea. With female sports on the rise, and women buying into fitness regimes and classes, Westwood found a winner.

1984 also saw the first ever Birkin bag from Hermes, the first release of The Cosby Show and Miami Vice. All of which created fashions and lifestyles in their own right and reflected different personalities and tastes of the decade.  

Katharine Hamnett showed bravery and willing when she met then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing a T-shirt with a slogan declaring, "58 per cent Don't Want Pershing*"

However, during the 80s it seems there was a strong point being made behind fashion, such as Gaultier’s men-skirts and the ‘power suit’. Where there was a statement piece of clothing, there was a message. ’84 saw the first London Fashion Week, which Hamnett showed a collection at claiming, “We were creating a stir with fashion”. 

*In reference to America’s missile being deployed in West Germany. 

“I can remember Jasper Conran saying: ‘Why should we share a glass of warm white wine with that woman?’ – meaning Margaret Thatcher. That was the general attitude at the time. We’d had the Falklands, there were anti-nuclear women’s peace camps at Greenham Common, and it felt like the government could do whatever it wanted and we didn’t have a choice.
So I wasn’t going to go to the reception. Because I really didn’t want to shake hands with her. But at the last minute in the afternoon, I thought: ‘Oh my God. It’s a photo opportunity. And wouldn’t it be funny if...’
So the team knocked up a T-shirt in the workroom. Its message came from an opinion poll about the deployment of pershing missiles in Europe. I had to smuggle the T-shirt into the building. I revealed it at the last moment, and Thatcher was horrified. I actually felt sorry for her when she shook my hand. Charm is the first art of the politician. She was saying to me: ‘at last, a true original...’ and then realised the cameras were flashing and bent over to read the T-shirt. Then she uttered a shriek of horror. "
Katherine Hamnett

Newsweek said that 1984 was the "Year of the Yuppie" -- the young urban professional whose “lifestyle and outlook made him/her a synecdoche of Reagan's America”

Fredric Jameson once said, "a new petit bourgeoisie [whose] cultural practices and values . . . have articulated a useful dominant ideological and cultural paradigm" for American society in the 1980s.

The yuppie trend didn’t last any longer than 2 years and the term itself is said to be derogatory. There can be little doubt that the yuppie phenomenon had a lasting cultural impact which still remains today from celebrities to young business men and women.

­­­­Miami Vice had a major influence on fashion throughout the 80s, to the present day. First of all they heavily popularized, if not introduced the slick yet cool fashion of a “t-shirt under Armani jacket”, which was often designed like an unconstructed blazer in shiny fabric. Don Johnson is said to be the epitome of style that then became a trademark for the series and the trend. Miami Vice also influenced Italian men’s fashion in the US. The standard typical Italian attire consisted of a sport coat, Armani t-shirt, pastel linen trousers with casual, yet stylish loafers to complete the European holiday look.

On average per episode characters Crockett and Tubbs, wore five to eight outfits each. Miami Vice had certain colours which were said to be “approved” for wear on the show; shades of pink, blue, green and fuchsia were often favourites along with the standard monochrome combo. Pastel colours were worn the majority of the time, keeping in line with the location, and overall aesthetics of the show. At the time Miami still remained a playground of Art-deco architecture, and the colours used were used to reflect this.

Keeping in line with high fashion, designers such as Armani, Gianni Versace, Hugo Boss and Vittorio Ricci were consulted on the designs and fashions produced, bought and worn.

Bambi Breakstone was the costume designer and buyer of clothing for the show. She once stated that, “The concept of the show is to be on top of all the latest fashion trends in Europe”.

Designers soon adapted their work to match the demand of fashions from the TV show. Six Formal Wear created a line of Miami Vice ‘dinner jackets’, aesthetically matching the designs seen on screen. Kenneth Cole released a line of shoes, entitled ‘Crockett and Tubbs’, whilst the department store opened a Miami Vice section in the men’s and youth departments of the store.

Ray-Ban’s made a massive comeback in the 80s after a decline in the 60s and 70s. The popularity of the Wayfarer peaked with sales of 720,000 in ’84 however, thanks to Crockett’s loyalty to the sunglasses throughout the series.

Miami Vice set the standard cliché image of 80s fashion.

“The Cosby Sweater” was the nickname given to Bill Cosby’s famously ubiquitous knitwear. To this day these ‘Cosby Sweaters’ are still around in charity and vintage shops, and are still considered a fashion piece. However in conjunction with The Cosby Show, the jumpers became a cultural touchstone for the show and trend followers.

Cosby once hinted that the phrase “Cosby Sweater is to call something garish, tacky, and outdated—in an affectionate way. And in the cyclical world of fashion design, such passé looks have recently inspired a swath of contemporary prints featuring bold, geometric patterns and incorporating a mishmash of colors and textures.”

Costume Designer Sarah Lemire originally made Miami Vice style suits for the actor, but due to the relaxed dynamic of the show this didn’t take off. Cosby claims “I wanted to get away from the white coat all the time or the blue blazer look, with the khaki pants and the penny loafers.” In contrast, the sweaters infused the show with a contagious, creative energy, shown through fashion, personality, acting and overall aesthetic styling of the mid-80s.


Margaret Thatcher was no ordinary politician. She was the first and only female Prime Minister of the UK to date, and remained in office for 3 terms. Leader of the Conservative Party, she was seen as either “Superwoman” or “The Iron Lady” depending on your political views. You either loved her or hated her; there was no middle ground.

In her first two years of power, she unleashed the ruthlessness that Thatcher is remembered by. She stood by her beliefs, and instantly Government spending was curbed to control the supply of money in the UK. Rather than joining the European Monetary System, Thatcher dismissed all exchange controls, and the currency existed to “float”. Many industrial subsidies were cut meaning firms would fall through. A rise in unemployment was quickly apparent across the UK, with the Miner’s strikes and regional closures. During a world recession she began to privatize companies such as BT and British Gas. “Popular capitalism” was encouraged on the back of this, allowing the public to buy shares to regain power.

In 1984 the Irish Republican Army (IRA) retaliated to her prior dismissal of their movement. They bombed the hotel in Brighton where the conservatives were holding their annual conference. Again not retaliating with a strong hold for pragmatism, she signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985, encouraging a later peace settlement.

“The success of her policies at home and abroad made her, together with Ronald Reagan, the most distinctive advocate of a revived capitalism in the world.”

Fashion Icon:

Margaret Thatcher reined the UK throughout the 1980s and had a massive influence on fashion and style, as well as social, cultural and political issues.

Thatcher was a pioneer of fashion as well as politically. She was the epitome of power, and for a female in the 80s to achieve such a position of power and authority, wasn’t seen very often. She became a role model and a fashion icon, empowering women with confidence and style.

She claims that dressing well became part of her role as PM. She became known for her power suits, ‘the pussy bow’, smart tailoring, heels, pearls and rich, royal colour palette. She influenced the trends of power dressing and shoulder pads massively throughout the 80s, showing how to dress to show you’re independent, authoritative, willing, brave, powerful and confident.

It wasn’t all about looks however; “What you do is decide the clothes in which you are comfortable. You must be comfortable. You are going to a great occasion. It must be a style that you are comfortable in. Must be a fabric that you are comfortable in, that hangs well, and you must know that you look appropriate for the occasion. Never flashy, just appropriate... It is not unfeminine to be well tailored. Indeed, it often perhaps concentrates on what you are going to say if you have got well-tailored things on because people no longer look at your clothes”.

One of her favourite labels to wear was Aquascutum. It had royalty and regality to it, which Thatcher wore proudly. She knew that powerful males in the political world surrounded her, and by dressing the part it would help her being taken seriously, without losing all her femininity. At times when she wanted to exude her power, she often wore her “party colour” sapphire blue.

She was well trained in how to look the part; professional, feminine and classy. She said that the pussy bow blouses she often wore, softened up the hard exterior of power and tailoring combined.

“Margaret Thatcher dressed as a strong woman and developed a style that was very much her own brand. The hair, the bow, the pearls and the handbag all became iconic.”– Anna Hindmarch, Vogue.