Selection of editorial images dating from 1978 to 1982 from L’Officiel Paris
Vogue Runway’s site debut last week kicked off with a millennial-approved look back to the nineties. Sarah Mower argues that by virtue of fashion’s cyclical nature, a simple equation of subtracting 25 from our current year, tells us that what went down stylistically in 1990 will be of interest to us today. Demz the rules of fashion nostalgia (and in the case of sartorial adopters and designers, it’s nostalgia for a time that they never experienced themselves).
What then to make of Jonathan Anderson‘s largely isolated fixation with the new wave of the early 1980s – specifically the ushering of dramatically changed-up silhouettes, bolder colour palettes and an almost brash geometric swagger that started to creep in towards the end of the 70s in anticipation of a new decade. That energy has nothing to do with our collective tawdry picture of the 1980s, dominated by neon, leggings and rolled up Miami Vice jackets. Instead designers like Claude Montana and Anne Marie Beretta, the emergence of Memphis Group founded by Ettore Sottsass and the postmodernist oeuvre gave way to a bold optimism in fashion that perhaps later trickled down into those aforementioned images of bad taste. For his own A/W 15-6 collection, he lensed this experimental period in time from the perspective of Eastern Bloc countries prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall playing catch up with what went before in their Western counterparts. The discovery of high octane fashion and partying as the thawing of the Cold War beckons. This might be a vaguely fabricated version of history on Anderson’s part but that only adds to the idea that these clothes aren’t a straightforward re-iteration of what went down in the past, but instead a new take on the new wave. There’s enough of a distance between the era and today that Anderson can go ga ga on New Wave-isms – those leather belts with abstract plastic buckles, the sculptural mis-matched earrings and the deliberately coloured hoisery. It reminded me of the time when similar ruched leather boots, busy-looking and dazzling lamé and novelty knits with cutesy animal motifs fell out of the back of my mum’s wardrobe. In my early teen years when I had little means to buy my own clothes, I thought I’d revive all of these relics with the hope that my friends wouldn’t call them old fashioned because they wouldn’t remember the time when they were in fashion.
Weirdly, Anderson echoed what Miuccia Prada said at the end of the season in March about Miu Miu’s take on 80s New Wave. “It’s about fashion and fun!” she summarised simply. And so it is that that enthusiastic gung-ho discovery of “fashion” is channelled here by Anderson to the extreme. You couldn’t help but emerge thinking how those bold and brash tropes suddenly looked so appealing.
If you were a naysayer at Anderson’s own show, then Loewe would seal this new take on the new wave. For his second show for the Spanish house, those first fumblings with eighties fashion excess was even more refined, with the added leather know-how resulting in panelled blousons, geometric inlaid suede skirts and of course the growing range of bags. The Puzzle bag grows in strength and to it Anderson added blooming flower pouches and decade appropriate envelope bags with abstract lattice straps. In comparison to Anderson’s debut for the house, which was an exploration of Loewe’s fashion stance, this collection felt like a braver foot into Fashion with a capital F. That emboldened step into a new style decade in the eighties is used here as a device to channel Anderson’s more daredevil take on Loewe’s fashion language. The colours more varied and combined in more unusual ways. The fabrics shinier and more renegade in form. The layers more built up and complex. Coding up Loewe with a strong foundation – one that everyone has banged on about from the typography to the logo to the visual imagery – has a triumph on Anderson’s part. The bags have also been imbued with a stalwart-like reliability in form and function with thanks to hits like the Puzzle. And now the fashion can really start to flow.