Tuesday, August 4, 2009

80s fashion redux, part 6: New Beauty in the 80s

The 80s got a bad rap for having certain over-promulgated styles, like curly perms, bushy eyebrows and teased up, big hair. However, any glance at a mid-1980s fashion magazine like Elle shows that fashionable hair was smooth, long, sleek, short, curled, kinky, teased; eyebrows were natural, full, thin; eyes were smoky, natural; lips were red, beige...in other words, many styles were in style. Still, the extremes seem to characterize the 80s, and in this post I look back with some wistfulness at the strong, adventuresome looks of that decade.

On the other topic of this blog, a fascinating assessment of New York's Fall 2009 fashion week and women models of color can be read at Jezebel.com. An "Obama effect" had been anticipated, and there seems to have indeed been an increase in models of color strutting the runways, although still not in proportion to the population of the US. I can't find any statistics on the percentage of non-white models in the 1980s, but there certainly were some very famous examples, including the ultra-supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Originally posted April 23, 2006:

Every fashion era has new beauty ideals, and perhaps this topic had best be called NEW BEAUTY.

At first, all these ideals seemed unconventional, but only in the context of what had transpired before. As you can see from my previous posts here, there were some exaggerated looks in hair, makeup and clothing in the 80s, and here are just several of many more. Extremes were part of the fashion currency.

Outfit by Rifat Ozbek

Coat by Nigel Preston, shirt by Yohji Yamamoto and skirt by Comme des Garcons

In addition, there were more women of mixed, or non-European ethnic and racial backgrounds portrayed in the media than ever before, although still not nearly in proportion to the population or to the viewer/readership.

Givenchy by John Galliano worn by Naomi Campbell

Update August 4, 2009:

Will we again have the full-blown eyebrows that Brooke Shields made fashionable in the 80s? I think that the style in which we clothe ourselves will come first, with stronger (more structured, more obviously fashionable, starker, brighter) clothing demanding a stronger face and hair to balance. I wouldn't buy a case of hairspray just yet, but I would try my hand at a strong feature. Whether you choose to channel Debbie Harry or Naomi Campbell is up to you. It is so 80s to have a choice.

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