A crucial component of the 1980s scene was a similar intermingling of art, fashion and music, with style crossing over effortlessly from art school to nightclub and down to the streets; artists who emerged from the graffiti scene, such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, were the toast of New York’s downtown clubbing and fashion set.
Fashion writer Dal Chodha is the editor of Archivist, a magazine that explores designers’ archives and personal collections. “Certain clubs were so linked to fashion because they were places to look at wonderful, colourful characters and take in the utterly sublime madness of it all,” he says. “I love that fact that so few pieces from that time exist any more. Because they lived! They were worn and worn out. BodyMap’s archive is not only garments on hangers – it’s a monument of sweat, music, life and love.”
So how is the energy of the 1980s being chanelled by today’s designers and fashion fans? The mix and mash-up approach is certainly alive and thriving. From an obsession with customising and personalisation, to gender-blending and “athleisure”, everything feels like a personal work of art in progress. And former acts of rebellion, such as rainbow-hued hair and tattoos, are now quite acceptable forms of individual branding.
For the post-internet generation, it’s not just a physical expression. The copy-and-paste approach bridges both online and offline worlds. “Young people have always reappropriated the good bits of the past. It is just so much easier for them to do this now, thanks to the endless scroll of the internet,” says James Anderson, contributing editor to i-D magazine, and associate lecturer in fashion communication at Central Saint Martins. “But where they’re more genuinely expressive and advanced in the 21st century is in how they communicate and create through the use of technology – perhaps more so than through their actual clothes or appearance.”
So keep clicking through those Tumblr photos of old fashion shoots, club nights and shows, and keep re-posting them on Instagram with your emoji of choice. It doesn’t really matter what the medium is, because it’s the message that counts. And the message of the moment is clear: find your inspiration, then go ahead and express yourself!