Paris Fashion week ended yesterday, in case you didn’t notice. Normally, this sort of caper would pass me by. After all, does anyone actually wear any of the clobber they showcase on the catwalk? Having never seen our young trendsetters sashay down the high street wearing a bin bag, coat hanger and hospital slippers, I’d day no. Indeed, one could be forgiven for assuming that events like the Paris show are little more than vanity projects for wealthy homosexuals. Still, it keeps them out of mischief, doesn’t it? Some of this year’s offerings, however, caught my eye. Designer Jean-Paul Gaultier hearkened back to days gone by with his 1980’s-inspired spring/summer 2013 collection. See for yourself:
Watching those human stick insects strutting about in those outfits prompted my housemate, a blonde-haired northern lass with magnificent legs, to inquire: “Uncle Spideron, what was it like back then? You’re so clever. Tell me, pleeeeease!”
“Well, young Becky,” I said as I ran my hand along her thigh, “I’ll tell you.” And so, I had a good dig around in the old noggin and reminisced about a bygone era.
The 1980’s….a time in which Margaret Thatcher sold off everything that wasn’t bolted down, when mobile phones were the size of a briefcase and when everyone east of the River Oder wore red pyjamas and wanted to crush you. Approximately half of our leisure hours were spent trying to dig out and unravel VHS tapes after they had been chewed up by the VCR. It was a magical time, all right.
As I was but a small boy during this decade, my socialising options were rather limited, but that did not stop me from enjoying myself on occasion. I spent a lot of my down time surrounded by Lego bricks. You see, back then we didn’t have cynical corporate tie-ins like Lego Harry Potter, Lego Twilight or Lego Jersey Shore, so we had to actually use our imaginations and build something. When I wasn’t constructing castles or torturing small animals, I could often be found playing on my ZX Spectrum 128. Primitive by today’s standards, the Spectrum took about half an hour to load a game, all the while making an awful screeching sound that brought to mind the paroxysms of an asthmatic cat trying to pass a kidney stone. The games themselves were usually insanely difficult and crashed three times out of five. Back then, there were many more independent games publishers – indeed, any spotty Herbert could design a game from the comfort of his bedroom with nothing but the sound of his own farts for company. Nowadays, you can’t get a foot in the door unless you’re under the yoke of those crypto-fascists at Electronic Arts.
Each generation looks to its heroes for guidance and inspiration and the Eighties were no exception. Our icons were, in no particular order: Mr. T, Grace Jones, Ken Hom, The Fonz, Max Headroom, Gordon Gecko and Roland Rat. Every Eighties movie worth its salt had to include some sort of montage, whereby the protagonist turns from zero to hero accompanied by motivational music from Kenny Loggins. Thirty years ago, no woman would dare be seen in public without an outrageous perm, shoulder pads and perfume strong enough to wilt flowers 30 metres away. We males could also affect the poodle look, but a simple mullet ‘n’ moustache combo was more common. Mothers: lock up your daughters!
It was the age of the Power Ballad, when bouffant pop stars would tug at our heart strings in soft focus and, at some point during their videos, a wine glass would fall down and shatter in slow motion. After Live Aid, everyone had to pretend to feel guilty about starving Ethiopians between mid-December and early January. The government made terrifying public information films warning children not to trust strangers/play near rivers/touch stray dogs/leave the house, so we’re now safe from harm but allergic to fresh air. Special needs people were known as ‘spastics’ (no, really). The World Wide Web hadn’t been invented, so nobody knew anything. It was possible to get one’s money for nothing and cheques for free. Young boys everywhere tuned into He-Man, a TV show in which a tanned, half-naked hero showed off his muscles and winked at the camera. Made me into the man I am today.
So there you have it: the Eighties. I daresay we won’t see the like of that decade again for at least another 68 years. What do you remember about the Age of Excess? Were you popping your collar at the roller-disco? Did you think lunch was for wimps? Were you headbutting policemen outside a coal mine? Did detention after school involve a well-choreographed dance sequence? Answers on a postcard, boys and girls.