[ 1920's Veil Styles ] [ Vintage Fashion History 1930's ] [ Vintage Fashion History 1940's ] [ 1940's Vintage Wedding Hairstyles ] [ Vintage Fashion History 1950's ] [ Vintage Fashion History 1960's ] [ Vintage Fashion History - 1970's Weddings ] [ Vintage Fashion History - 1980's Weddings ] [ Desiderata ]
Nylon Chiffon Gown with Queen Anne
Reagan wins 1980
March 30, 1981 Reagan survives assassination attempt
1981 IBM introduces its first PC
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor appointed to Supreme Court
1983 Regan's Strategic Defense initiative, Star Wars
Regan wins 1984 re-election
1986 Space Shuttle explodes
Nancy Reagan spends a million to redecorate
1987 Wall Street Greed, the Michael Milkin Story
1988 The Iran-contra scandal
Bush wins 1988 election, the first President to publicly scorn broccoli
"Read my Lips"
1988 Gorbachev declares the Cold War over
1989 The Savings and Loan Scandal
The Reagan 80s marked a
period reminiscent of the roaring twenties; a sort of
no-holds barred opportunity for people to push outside of the
box. With the onset of mergers
and acquisitions during the boom period, Women entered into the
corporate arena in unprecedented numbers as they had
in the 1920's, albeit with the same unenthusiastic
welcome from their male counterparts.
The need for women to fuse
themselves into a predominantly male corporate arena meant that clothing designers cut
and boxed traditional business attire with generous shoulder proportions. "Power dressing,"
at least for designer Claude Montana, meant a fuller, square cut shoulder
pad that gave a reverse triangle shape to the female
form, somewhat similar to a Man's physique. Off the rack designers then fought back with the
dreaded yet professional "perky bow" at the throat
to feminize the square shoulder.
As in the 1920s, clothing styles
were mannish but nothing similar to the boyish appearance of the
flapper. This was the Yuppie of the 80s, in good company
with the Punk, Retro and New Wave Schools which all shared hard
fashion, however, remained soft and flowing at the start of the decade,
perhaps keeping the natural curves of the female form sacred.
The late 1970s infusion of Victorian
revival; kick started the decade with the softly romantic
Eve of Milady gowns in
Most of the
early 1980s gowns were without structural support in the form
of petticoats and skirts fell freely around the feet.
facilitated the romantic styles, embellished with embroidered
organza and three dimensional venetian laces.
revival gowns popularized high necklines,
some of which opened up into Queen Anne keyholes. Laura
Ashley opened up the
neckline to a squared English country look
with peau de soie lined in muslin and
screen printed cotton, and Bridallure invested in country
charm with matching gloves and picture hats, but the
attention was short lived. By mid-decade the wedding gown
soon turned to sparkle and glitz.
Mid Eighties wedding
design suffered multi-national growing pains as it gained a most affordable manufacturing. The new, sparkling sequined
and pearl beaded satin acetate gowns
enabled the profitability of American manufacturers who
maintained factories Internationally yet sold their gowns to
The result was a wedding gown that
requiring hours of hand sewing by an obviously
underpaid overseas labor
Pearl beaded cut-work sleeves and cathedral
length cut-work window trains
were hand sewn with
sparkling sequins. Embroidered
organza embellished hemlines with silky rayon thread and hand sewn
beadwork sparkled dramatically.
Wedding gowns were not
free from the bombastic styles of the girly glamour, and sleeves
began to grow into massive leg o' muttons that were as huge as the
bride's head. Eventually through the decade, the shoulder pad softened
into a rounded, rather than squared silhouette, but was still dramatically
enhanced, sometimes with an open keyhole back that closed with pearl
strands and lengthy drop dangles.
photos © CORBIS/Bettmann
Although she was to later publicly admit that perhaps
her Emmanuel gown was a bit above the top,
choice for her 1981 marriage to Prince Charles was to portend the times. The sleeve on her ivory
silk taffeta gown was as large as her head, a style
that had first been memorable in the year 1896.
link to a Burbidge design for Priscilla of
Boston, circa 1982
Two Views of a Joytime Gown, worn by actress
Jenilee Harrison as Cindy Snow
in the 1981 episode of the sitcom Three's Company, called
"Here comes the Bride."
At Far Left:
from 1982, showing no hint of any shoulder pad or excess.
A simple length of ribbon down the back from the hairpiece
accentuates the woven pattern in the organdy of the gown.
some bride's, the decade was supremely feminine and some
designers held back and simplified, allowing for a return to
unstructured, easy glamour. This was the second birth of the
"informal" gown amidst the excess.
Priscilla of Boston remained steadfast in their "made in USA"
standards during the 80s and perhaps may have suffered profits
at this time, but within the next two decades appeared to
rebound with success as American tastes reverted back to
Acetate Satin gown from 1988
Fashion in the
eighties was about being conspicuous and ostentatious, with the end
result becoming almost theatrical.
Nonetheless, the effect is still so beautiful, as shown
gown from 1988.
Note the pearl drops at her sleeve. Her satin acetate gown
had the stiffness needed to pleat and fold into petals and hip
The gloves shown are Irish Crochet,
made in China.
accessories coordinate for
an unforgettable look.
As in the
1920s, the focus of the late 1980s went to the headpiece in
eighties rock n'
roll brides, the pouf veil effectively complimented the crimped big hair that was
every heavy metal
rock and roller's dream.
hakus and pearl drop headbands accented the forehead and new
flashy metallic tulles made their debut with names like "glamour dust" and
"meteorite." Hair was teased
and backcombed, and earrings were simple pearl posts or short
Above: A large
fad for the late 1980s was the creation of wreath style headbands,
shaped like leaves in a spray. The widow's peak headband was
made from wire and buckram, covered with fabric and
embellished with sequins. Pearl drops added detail.
1990 Mandela is freed from prison
1990 Operation Desert Shield
1991 Operation Desert Storm
1991 Persian Gulf War ends
William Jefferson Clinton wins the 1992 election
1993 The House passes the North American Free Trade Agreement
1994 Congress approves the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
1995 World Summit for Social Development spotlights need for
1996 Clinton re-elected
1997 The Princess leaves us in Paris
1998 Titanic wins 11 Oscars, reportedly the most expensive film
1999 Clinton acquitted of perjury and obstruction of justice
Perhaps the single most noteworthy
reflection made about fashion in the 90's is that on the surface
American culture appeared to reject the notion of designer created
images while somehow still managing to shop at The GAP.
Some argue that designers
have less control over the image of society than they did in the past,
but there is no denying that in the 1990s one wedding gown designer
will be mentioned as having great influence, and that is
Yet, if there is a central
theme peeking out from the pages of the nineties bridal magazines, it
was the maxim attributed to Mies van der Rohe that "less is
more." Wang's interpretation of the ball gown as a stripped
down bodice similar to that of a one piece bathing suit and full skirt
of tulle offered 90's brides an alternative to the over excess of the
80s. Her dresses were inspiring to some and lacking to others who
simply stated, "less is a bore."
Although Vera is hardly to
blame for it, perhaps one of the problems with simple dressing is that
it was fairly easy to copy. While a sleeveless bathing suit bodice looks
refreshing in the beginning of its cycle, after 5000 brides, it looks
conformist, leading to speculation that the brides who contributed to
the trend were followers, not leaders. Fashion designers such as
the duo of Badgley Mischka, offered to pick up the slack and provided
90's brides with a stunning assortment of intricately hand beaded gowns
that were wearable art. Not to be outdone, the one Wang design
that cannot be denied as a 90's hit was her remake of the apron dress.
An obvious Mainbocher influence from the fifties, it looked remarkably
familiar as a "Givenchy styled Hepburn" on the rakishly thin
actresses of present day.
What could be next?
a re-visit to an Edythe Vincent creation, circa 1963?