St Elmo’s Fire, Eighties Fashion, and Today’s Minimalism

The 80s was the decade that produced, in my opinion, some of the best films of all time. Honestly, it’s just the kitsch factor. I love the costumes, the set design, the soundtracks, the colours, the carefree characters. Think of all the amazing apartments that you’ve seen in an 80s movie or all the fun that the characters have that you wish you could be a part of. It is pure escapism into a time gone by, a time that we will never get back. This is pre-iPhone, pre-social media, pre-mass use of internet even!

St Elmo’s Fire wasn’t actually a great film. There wasn’t much going on in it and there was no real moral of the story, or reason for even making the film. However, the one thing that I really took away from it was how insanely good Demi Moore looked. Although her character was meant to be coked up throughout the entire movie she still wore some great, quintessential eighties outfits and looked damn good doing so.

I’m feeling slight Holly Golightly vibes in the top right photo

The satin strapless dress she wore dancing made the think of Hedi Slimane’s last collection for Saint Laurent. I’m currently loving the editorials that have accompanied this collection as I think they so perfectly capture a mood, a fun excessive nature that I wish we could go back to, and I find it incredible how stylists are managing to pull together so many pieces that have the same vibe and work together – Vogue Paris’ August 2016 cover and the accompanying editorial is a good example. It’s really incredible to see.

Vogue Paris August 2016 – shot by David Sims. I found the styling of this to be very 80s, right down to the slight blurring effect on the photo. Very Chris von Wangenheim (see below).

After the shift towards minimalism in the 90s until the mid-2000s when prints and colour erupted again, we have once again reached the place in the cycle where minimalism reigns. We mostly wear black and neutrals. We don’t wear shiny satin or fake pearls or crimp our hair. Where is the fun? Watching movies set in the 80s makes me wish I was a teenager during that time, or even a young graduate, so I could dress like that and not give a damn how ridiculous I looked. I want the shoulder pads, the comically oversized proportions, the satin, the hairstyles, the costume jewellery, the long gloves (or even fingerless ones), the cool attitude. Who will have the same effect on teenagers’ style nowadays as Madonna did in the 80s? Rihanna?

I’m assuming there will be a move away from minimalism fairly soon. The most recent round started in, I’m going to estimate, 2011/2012? Therefore perhaps in another few years we will be taking a walk on the wild side. All I know is that when I’m old and I look at photos of myself in my twenties, I want to be dressed in a way that I will think was so cool and exciting. Right now I just dress boring, because that’s where we are at right now. I do love the clothes I have and I love minimalism, but deep down inside I long for more. Maybe Hedi’s final collection’s influence will be real and widespread, but I think minimalism still has another few years left before it fades. Gucci is helping too, although aesthetically I don’t enjoy the clothing.

Gia Carangi shot by Chris von Wangenheim, late 1970s

There is a true connection between politics and fashion. Fashion cannot exist in a vacuum. It is a reflection on the world. When times are tough, style evolves. When times are good, normally economically, style stays stagnant. Often the most over-the-top, excessive designs come about when economies are on a downturn. It’s almost like a rebellion against it, or even merely a distraction. Balmain rose to popularity once again during the Great Recession of 2008. Christophe Decarnin’s bejewelled rocker get-ups soared in popularity. The excesses of the 80s came about at a time when Ronald Reagan was president and America was facing a series of budget cuts which affected the average citizen. The AIDS epidemic broke out and was ignored by the President, and during that time fashion became increasingly flamboyant. With the upcoming Presidential election in America and the impending exit of Obama, what will happen to fashion? Will there be a knock-on effect? Perhaps it won’t be pronounced straight away as often subtle changes take a while to become apparant, but maybe in 5 years time we will look back to 2017 (assuming changes begin after the new president is inaugurated) as the year that everything changed again. The cycle keeps on going, the world keeps on spinning.

Saint Laurent Fall 2016
Saint Laurent Fall 2016

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