Bonnie J Brown
For those who aren’t yet aware, the top fashions and trends of the 1980’s have already emerged or are reemerging on the fashion runways once again. The floral fads, the neon colors, the mini skirts, and the masculine take on women’s fashions all can be seen in any fashion magazine you care to flip through and, if you aren’t already wearing them, you’ll definitely be sporting these fashions come summer, no matter how much you profess otherwise right now. However, there is one 80’s fashion fad that has thus far been over looked, that being the New Romantics.
The New Romantics, named so after the Romantic era of the late 18th century, materialized during the early 1980’s in Britain night clubs and was a revolt against Punk, the anti-fashion. The New Romantics wore flamboyant and ultra-glamorous garments made of bright colors, luxurious fabrics and decorated with accents of braided rope and bold hardware, giving them an almost costume-like appearance. Wearers of New Romantics style longed to recreate the golden age of Hollywood fashion and glamour.
As much as the New Romantics were influenced by the old Romantic clothing, so too were they influenced by the music and culture they surrounded themselves with. The style that originated on the streets of London was made popular by such ostentatious musicians as Boy George, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet. But it was fashion designer, Vivienne Westwood, who designed for these characters and it was Westwood who would eventually develop the most popular trend for all Romantics, the Pirate look. While an episode of Seinfeld made fun of a simple, if silly, pirate shirt, New Romantics pompously wore blouses with ballooning sleeves, billowing frills and lace trim.
Westwood, a designer who was and is known for being influenced from 17th and 18th century fashions used many of the same accents from those historic eras in her modern renditions. Whether talking about her designs from the early 80’s or her current work, she always uses an abundance of material and has a flair that can also be seen in the fashion era she is inclined to draw inspiration from. Westwood also seems to have a knack for taking street fashions and recreating them into couture. The fine materials and the extra details which adorn her pieces all add to the glamorous feel her fashions portray. It was this glamour that the New Romantics were after that made them love her clothing.
While the masses never did adopt Westwood’s Pirate look (thank goodness), the populace did, however, begin to dress with more panache and became more conscious of what they were wearing. Once the New Romantics brief fashion era came to an end people were dressing up again. Even though I can certainly go without seeing people dress in flamboyant clothing rendered after the 18th century, and shudder at the thought of people dressing as modern day pirates, it would be nice to see people dress-up a little more and actually put some effort into what they put on in the morning. People’s lack of style, however, is not for Westwood’s lack of trying. Her designs continue to exude elegance with a modern twist that any woman would love to pull off.
1. Vivienne Westwood, Fall Ready to Wear 2008, style.com
2. Vivienne Westwood 1980s Pirate Design, fashion-era.com
3. Adam Ant, threadless.com
4. Westwood’s First Runway Show – 1981 Pirate Themed Fashion Show, viviennewestwood.com
5. 18th Century Pirate Costume, pieceofeight.com
6. Westwood Fall Ready to Wear 2008, style.com