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AW19 key looks: Battle of the decades

Sandra Halliday
18 March 2019

The autumn/winter collections flirted with two key fashion decades and while the retro influences weren’t aways explicit, the shapes, details, and key items of the 70s and 80s still ran riot in all four fashion cities.

Unlike some seasons when designers zero in on a narrow interpretation of vintage style, this time around the influences were eclectic and offered something for (almost) everyone.

70s style

For the 70s, think double denim with denim tailoring and matching flares or the classic rider jacket/gilet in a retro cut (Wrangler’s new Icons collection that launched last month is already pushing an updated version of this look at retail).

Other key pieces include higher-waist wide-cut pants, plus slim cut blouses and skinny knits (20s and 30s motifs add another touch that sums up the 70s). The knit-over-blouse combo is a must-have, while classic 70s pieces such as the skinny-but-fluid dress, the raised-waist minidress, the fitted jumpsuit, velvet pantsuit, patchwork leathers, faux fur collar coats, and halter necks on everything, all have their place.


70s: Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Chloé, Michael Kors, Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni,Kate Spade, Kate Spade

There’s a so-bourgeois edge too with prim blouses, culottes, A-line skirts, neat shoulderbags and ‘secretary’ dresses combined with semi-fitted blazers all making it onto the essentials list.

Meanwhile, for after dark, sequins, satin and shimmering jersey reign supreme. This is where the Studio 54 look comes into its own with party pieces that are made for dancing all night.

80s everywhere

The 80s looks will perhaps be harder for some people to get their heads around, the experience of that decade still being a little too raw for many above a certain age. But for the youth market it’s all new, and the wide, square shoulders that were everywhere on the runways, could just prove a compelling reason for shoppers to update their wardrobes.


80s: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci

Those shoulders were 80s through and through and again, there’s a version already out there, with Farfetch/Byronesque’s current Claude Montana revival shining a light on the decade’s style choices.

Power shoulders are big news for coats and the all-important blazer (cut ultra-roomy and very wide or slimmer but always sharp). But fashion shoppers will also be able to buy into the 80s without looking like an American footballer: for the important blouson revival, the shoulders come dropped and slouchy.


80s: Louis Vuitton, MSGM, MSGM, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney

Dynasty looks and the influence of Princess Di and Nancy Reagan are also being felt for party time as cocktail couture styles gives us the bubble skirt, skinny and shiny minis, plus flaring taffetas often with asymmetric cuts that reference 80s big names like Jacques Azagury, Murray Arbeid and David Fielden. The ra-ra skirt is also making a comeback for a younger version of the look and given that the decade also gave us Top Gun as well as Dynasty, it’s no surprise that roomy jumpsuits are riding high. Another 80s favourite, the cigar-shaped jean could also make an impact.

It all means that the mass-market has a lot to draw on, with plenty of items that have standout hanger appeal but can also fit easily into an existing wardrobe without looking too much like fancy dress.

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