Fashion Time Travel: How this year’s trends are taking us from the 1980s to the future

Patricia Abaroa

This Autumn and Winter, designers are revisiting the 1980s for fashion inspiration while others have their eyes set on the future.

The 1980s were a time of excess. Parties were over the top, the wealthy got wealthier and fashion was about extremes. If you’ve been feeling nostalgic about the decade, you’re in luck, as one of fall and winter’s biggest trends is a celebration of everything 1980s. Fashion from the ’80s had range; it was a time when slouchy silhouettes were just as stylish as structured power suits. In their Autumn/Winter Collections, designers embraced different trends and silhouettes from the period, so while the ’80s was a common underlying theme for the season’s collections, each house presented a unique point of view.

Mention a shoulder pad to almost anyone, and they’ll think of the 1980s. Designer Marc Jacobs proved to be a big supporter of an oversized shoulder this season. He focused on dramatic proportions and created garments for a mysterious woman with an affinity for voluminous coats and large brimmed hats. Where Jacobs opted for volume, Donatella Versace chose to stay close to the body with form fitting silhouettes. The house of Versace’s revisit to the 1980s commemorated the fun and whimsy aspects of the decade by mixing patterns (including pop prints) and pairing graphic logo tees with neon form fitting minis or under bustiers.

Versace pays homage to the 80s via bright colors.
Versace pays homage to the ’80s via bright colors.
Marc Jacobs take on shoulder pads and wide-brim hats.
Marc Jacobs take on shoulder pads and wide-brim hats.

For every 1980s fashion moment that featured glow in the dark colors or sequins there exists a rebellious counterpart. Through the decade, Goth and punk subcultures clung to the color black and preferred studs over sequins. While Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s Autumn/Winter collection paid homage to a plethora of ’80s trends (including denim and western wear), there was an underlying Victorian feel through the collection that was common in Gothic looks of the ’80s. Serafini juxtaposed frilly Victorian blouses and layers of lace with rich velvet and leather. While Saint Laurent also incorporated elements of romanticism in its collection (lace and velvet were prevalent), Anthony Vaccarello also showed an edgier version of ’80s Gothic. He presented an impressive array of leather jackets, added studs to mini dresses and kept the collection feeling young with very short leather shorts.

Fashion from the Philosophy's Autumn/Winter Collection.
Fashion from the Philosophy’s Autumn/Winter Collection.Fashion from the Philosophy’s Autumn/Winter Collection.

But time travel in the season’s collections didn’t adhere strictly to the ’80s and the future also piqued the interest of high-end fashion houses. Futuristic fashion is always left to interpretation, and depending on whom you’re asking, the future can appear bright and promising, or frightening.

For Balmain’s collection, Olivier Rousteing opted for a high-shine future. Rousteing never shies away from embellishments and glitz and this collection stayed true to his character. There are holographic materials that catch light and dazzle, but using textiles like PVC adds a new dimension to the designer’s portfolio. Balmain’s version of the future also included jeans, which is usually uncommon for collections that focus on what’s to come. For Maison Margiela’s Couture Collection, John Galliano steered clear of metallic and high-shine pieces.  While the designer opted for a cheery color palette (think bright oranges, yellows, and purples), his avant-garde collection illustrated a post-apocalyptic planet. Deconstructed coats and jackets were put back together to serve as protective gear and layers were of vast importance. Galliano’s version of the future was a complete contradiction to Balmain’s; while Balmain’s future is sparkly and fun, Maison Margiela’s collection is a premonition of impending doom.

Holographic dress from Balmain's Autumn/Winter Collection.
Holographic dress from Balmain’s Autumn/Winter Collection.

Whether you’re feeling wistful, optimistic or pessimistic, Fall and Winter’s biggest trends are giving consumers the gift of time travel… now we’ll just wait for science to catch up. 

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