Cringe alert: from shoulder pads to puffy sleeves, ’80s style is back in vogue on global catwalks

Boiler suits, hoodies, slogan T-shirts and lots of bling and colour feature in spring-summer collections by Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Kenzo, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Valentino

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 February, 2017, 12:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2017, 5:59pm

Fashion from the cringeworthy 1980s is making a comeback for spring-summer 2017 and in a big way: we’re not just talking about shoulder pads.

The decade that taste forgot has been back with us for a while thanks to ’80s-inspired TV shows such as Stranger Things, films such as Star Wars and the highly anticipated Dynasty reunion.

It was only a matter of time before the ’80s buzz made its way into the fashion realm, as designers Demna Gvasalia and Gucci’s Alessandro Michele included Jackie Collins-inspired power shoulders and one-shoulder dresses in their collections. By the time the spring-summer 2017 catwalk shows came around, poof sleeves, oversized suits, lamé, sequins and ruffles were everywhere.

It’s not the first time designers have pillaged the ’80s for inspiration. Spring, however, is different thanks to its unashamed excess. Still, many designers have chosen to embrace the spirit of the decade rather than head-to-toe style cues.

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The easiest and most nostalgic way to go ’80s is to invest in a big-shouldered jacket, as popularised by actress Melanie Griffith. Balenciaga featured exaggerated versions using whalebone rods inserted across the shoulders of trench coats and jackets. For less of a statement, opt for the draped puffy-sleeve purple top accented with vintage brooch. Forgo the matching pink spandex leggings and the look is instantly contemporary.

Also embracing the Working Girl uniform was Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, whose boxy tweed coats appeared more feminine and relaxed thanks to rounded shoulders (the flashy chains, bright colours and baseball caps turned to the side still added that ’80s-tastic vibe). At Marni, the addition of strap-on pocket bags and an all-white palette softened Consuelo Castiglioni’s big-shouldered jackets. At Céline, Phoebe Philo paired oversized men’s wear jackets with cropped flares or cuffed trousers, and accessorised with a top handle bag.

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Daywear looks includes another ’80s favourite, the slogan tee. While words such as “Relax” or “Choose Life” were on our minds 40 years ago, 2017 is all about getting political. Tees came emblazoned with feminist slogans as seen at Christian Dior and Stella McCartney. Haider Ackermann’s were more introspective, with words such as “Silence” and “Be Your Own Hero”.

The hoodie, an ’80s relic, is a streetwear favourite, Champion logos included. Vetements versions are street luxe, while brands such as Alexander Wang and Versace went sporty. Dolce & Gabanna’s had sequined letters spelling out the words “Tropico Italiano”, while colourful stripes and appliqué covered Marc Jacobs.

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Boiler suits are also cool again and Hermès’ crisp blue version has contrasting white stitching. Another was made from buttery soft leather in buttercup yellow. Isabel Marant’s versions were rolled down to the waist or cinched with corsets, and for the evening, shimmery black fabric, zipper details and strappy silver heels.

For evening wear, Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello picked up where Hedi Slimane left off and sent out a stream of minidresses in velvet or gold lamé. Gucci was one of many brands to resurrect the one-shoulder puffy dresses (their version came in shiny blue with larger than life ruffles). Elsewhere, dresses are covered in bling of all varieties, including multi-coloured sequins (Kenzo) or made from colourful metallic fabric (Preen, Rodarte and Marc Jacobs). For good measure, throw in giant belts, puffball skirts and crystal earrings.

Keeping it ’80s is colour, and lots of it. The catwalks were awash in purple, red, yellow and electric blue (even Phoebe Philo at Celine, the queen of neutrals, got in on the act). The most popular shade is hot pink or fuschia, as seen on Valentino’s cape/dress hybrid and Bottega Veneta’s leather mackintosh. The brighter the better, but oh those pink spandex leggings from Balenciaga.