Before supermodels, Prada’s comeback, e-tailers, Instagram, bloggers, cell phones, Alexander McQueen and cult brands, there was the decade of fashion that was
the 1980s. Power dressing was a phenomenon, and Kevyn Aucoin hadn’t yet changed the literal face of fashion. Jane Fonda had just invented her famous workout videos, and Julia Roberts was about to film a movie with Richard Gere.
Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix and Azzedine Alaïa dazzled center stage, while newcomers Kenzo and John Galliano began creating a buzz. Oh, and Karl Lagerfeld had just taken over
Chanel. Can you even imagine a world without Lagerfeld at Chanel? It’s difficult, I know. So what was the front row like? Were guest outfits highly documented? Who was who? Keep scrolling to see what fashion week was like in the 1980s.
The runway of the 1980s was a fun place to be. There was a joie de vivre in the air, i.e. the runways at Todd Oldham and Betsey Johnson in New York, Inès de la Fressange at Chanel, the beginnings of John Galliano’s iconic theatrics and Jean Paul Gaultier’s enfant terrible.
Style Notes: Inès de la Fressange and Jerry Hall were a couple of the biggest models of the decade and were always ones to watch on the Chanel runway.
While street style as a concept has existed throughout the 20th century, it wasn’t until the rise of the blogger that street style outside shows became heavily documented by photographers. So these Paris street style images outside the Yves Saint Laurent RTW F/W 86 fashion show are rare. Compared to the wild, outlandish, and competitive nature of contemporary street style outfits, these are simple and timeless.
Style Notes: Outside the same YSL show, this group of guests give us an embodiment of peak ’80s style: oversized outerwear, large glasses, sheer tights and Dynasty levels of fur.
Style Notes: This outfit could have easily been seen at the recent London shows. It’s a history lesson that less is more, but this is much more than just a wool coat. Note the headband and statement earrings. I adore it.
Style Notes: Here’s a rate model-off-duty shot of two models caught walking into the Courrèges show in 1981. These looks are amazing for many reasons, but most importantly, they serve as proof that we should bring fashion gloves back.
Before bloggers and influencers, celebrities were the only stars of the FROW. Actors, musicians, and actual royalty populated the coveted seats. Here’s the iconic duo Yves Saint Laurent and Catherine Deneuve (his muse) in Paris for the F/W 89 show.
Style Notes: Three icons standing in a row: Kenzo, Grace Jones, and Azzedine Alaia in New York, 1986.
Style Notes: Brooke Shields attending a Valentino show. Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s contemporary designs echo back to this dress.
Style Notes: Sofia Coppola and Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel’s F/W 88 show. This was only three years after Lagerfeld took on the job as creative director at Chanel and around the time Coppola did her first internship at the legendary house.
Style Notes: Princess Caroline of Monaco was a regular at Chanel shows through the ’80s. Here she is in 1989 with Chanel muse Inès de la Fressange.
Style Notes: Singer Boy George in a toned-down version of his persona joins designer Yohji Yamamoto at his F/W 85 show in Paris. The ’80s saw the beginning of major success and influence of Japanese designers at European fashion weeks.
Style Notes: Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington attend a fashion party in New York. This was 1989, and they were on the cusp of transforming from models into supermodels along with Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, and more.