Glamorama, Macy's annual glitzfest to benefit children's cancer research, will be all about the '80s Friday night, featuring Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer. Of all the fashion eras of the 20th century, the 1980s seemed least likely to cycle back.
Did I really pogo to Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself" sporting a bad perm, an oversized cobalt blue T-shirt with shoulder pads, leggings, short boots and lace anklets? Seems like a bad dream now.
But I had plenty of company in what can only be called a period of nationwide style insanity.
Glamorama, Macy's annual glitzfest to benefit children's cancer research, will be all about the '80s Friday night, featuring Cyndi Lauper and MC Hammer. Wow. Why?
Of all the fashion eras of the 20th century, the 1980s seemed least likely to cycle back.
We couldn't say goodbye fast enough to "Flashdance"-inspired neon tops and acid-wash jeans more ripped than the abs beneath them. Heavy-metal hair bands and the abuse of studded leather that trailed in their wake. Stirrup pants, best accessorized with white pumps and super-stiff mall bangs. Giant bows on blouses and hair. Members Only jackets for men and padded pastel power suits for ladies who lunched and punched, a la Linda Evans and Joan Collins.
And overstuffed shoulder pads for all -- I think they even made onesies with them back then. When grunge, goth and clavicle piercings came along, it was a relief.
But current top designers have decreed that there are a few things to love about the most-maligned style decade of the modern age, and their fall collections reveal their nostalgic affinity.
Marc Jacobs is showing what is being artfully called an "architectural" shoulder. Ray-Ban Wayfarers are back, as is Members Only, with a spruced up, haute-er line that includes metallic jackets and "liquid leggings" available at the hipster-basics chain American Apparel. Fergie and Rihanna are now sporting the brand formerly most associated with Tony Geary, then the soap scene's biggest star as Luke from "General Hospital."
Minnesota made a few contributions to '80s style, most notably Prince -- always a fabulous, unapologetic dandy -- and The Time, whose vintage suits paired with poufed hair blended style eras in a new way. Roseville native Richard Dean Anderson gave us the MacGyver Mullet, which somehow came off as endearing. On him, anyway. Unlike the metal bands, The Replacements got the hair thing right: Slap in some product, mess it up and leave it for days; wear with paleo-grunge.
The second British Invasion also brought with it a welcome dose of New Wave, skinny-tie cool. But the best trend of the 1980s was anti-fashion, courtesy of punk rock -- the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones, Patti Smith.
Madonna, Boy George and definitely Cyndi Lauper may have seriously overaccessorized, but their varying combinations of streetwear staples such as rummage-bin tutus, lingerie as outerwear, fishnet leggings and Doc Martens were more interesting to admire and emulate than any of the polished-but-garish ensembles of "Miami Vice" and "Dynasty." In retrospect, the 1980s really comprised an era of fashion extremes, from punk to power suits, with no one look able to define the moment.
Signs abound that the current forgive, forget and embrace the '80s attitude has yet to peak. A few:
• In the print ad for "Model.Live," a Web show premiering on Vogue.TV in September, three runway newbies are completely decked out in '80s-inspired looks, including -- yikes -- a pair of zebra-print arm warmers and intentionally snagged black hose.
• An ad campaign featuring a come-hither-if-you-dare Heidi Klum and a whip isn't promoting "Project Runway," but Jordache Jeans.
• Morris Day and The Time did two Vegas gigs this summer, and are playing Saturday night at the Minnesota Zoo.
• Even the RNC is going back to the '80s on Sept. 4 with a 9 p.m. "Tribute to the Reagan Revolution" at Aqua Night Club. (You don't have to wear a red Adolfo suit -- Nancy's signature 1980s look -- to get in, but it might get you faster service.)
If you want to indulge in '80s style once more, here's a wake-up before you go-go: Huge shoulder pads under bright colors will still make you look like Frankenstein in drag. Liquid leggings are for solid bods. As for hairdos coated with enough spray and gel to turn the Mississippi into Jell-O, we've already lost a huge chunk of the arctic shelf. Carefully torn denim? Johnny Depp rocked it in "21 Jump Street," and still could. But he's Johnny Depp, we're not. And above all, resist any bow that's bigger than your head.
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046