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Fashion Week February 2009 Gives The 1980’s Credit For The Shoulder Pad…They’re Wrong

Updated on May 9, 2011
Marc Jacobs (2009)
Marc Jacobs (2009)
Joan Crawford (Forever)
Joan Crawford (Forever)

If you believe what Heidi Klum says about fashion on Project Runway, “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out” then I would have to say that the fashion industry (and more to the point, those who write about the fashion industry) are out…or at the very least have lost some credibility. Now look, I get that the fashion industry is filled with twenty-somethings who haven’t eaten since they were six but come on, there are still some how shall I put it, “senior” designers out there who should know better. Fashion Week February 2009 gives the 1980’s credit for the shoulder pad…they’re wrong – Don’t Get Me Started!

There are few absolutes in fashion (outside the little black dress) but one that you can be assured of is the fact that much like the Peter Allen song, “Everything old is new again.” You see, fashion like most of life seems to be a circular reference. (If you were creating an Excel spreadsheet you’d get an error message) What I mean is that although we tend to laugh when we see ourselves in pictures from say twenty years ago, if you wait a mere five years more you’d find that you really are back in fashion.

Having blogged for Project Runway season 3 (and almost season 4) for I can tell you that when season four came on the air and the designers first walked in the door, I wrote time and time again about them all looking like rejects from the 1980’s. (Read the blogs and how I got fired before I got hired, here So a mere two years later to see a bunch of anorexic models with shoulder pads the size of their inseam is no surprise…well to some of us. But for those of us who lived through the eighties (believe me I was more of a victim of trendy fashion than most…come on, gay, big hair, twenty-eight inch waist, I had everything you could think of and a lot that you wouldn’t dream anyone could or should be wearing) we knew back then that while shoulder pads were in fashion, they were not being “invented” by the current designers, no we all knew it was an homage to that gay icon, Joan Crawford from the 1940’s!

What gets me even more is that I read an article by a fashion critic who talked about the shoulder pads of today being a way for women to take the burden of the economic situation and shoulder the burden by having larger, broader, stronger shoulders to carry this burden. Um…excuse me, the Great Depression and World War II? Weren’t those the original burdens women had to shoulder and also when the big shoulder pads began appearing? This same writer talked about how the fashion industry would have to find a way to make the looks with the shoulder pads on the runway more accessible to the public. I seriously doubt they’ll have to worry too much about that, all they’ll need to do is let some starlets wear the outfit and get a designer to design it for Target and everyone will once more be wearing the huge shoulder pads.

I also love that Marc Jacobs is showing what critics are calling “Funny Little Hats.” Once again, this is a direct steal from the 1940’s. Now if you think I’m bitter, I’m not, I’m actually thrilled as someone who can’t get enough of the old black and white 1940’s movies, I think it’s swell (to use the proper vernacular). I just think that our youth oriented culture needs to be educated every once in a while. They need to watch some of the dramas and screwball comedies from the 1940’s and see when movie stars were movie stars. Forget about watching another boring Oscar show this weekend, get a copy of Mildred Pierce for drama or The Philadelphia Story for comedy and see exactly where fashion and celebrity originally met. It wasn’t in the 1980’s and it wasn’t a gay stylist my little friends, no it was actual fashion designers who were stylists too. Names like Edith Head or Adrian (Google them) created the looks for stars and did amazing things. And it wasn’t in the 1980’s kids. Fashion Week February 2009 gives the 1980’s credit for the shoulder pad…they’re wrong – Don’t Get Me Started!



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    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Don't we all have a few photos that make us cringe? Did we actually go out in public looking like that? Of course we did, but nobody said anything *because* they looked like that too! lol!

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 8 years ago

      When I look at photos of myself in the 80's I just cringe. Mind you I was younger and thinner, but those bangs sticking up, the shoulder pads, those wierd, abstract prints, eeeek! By the way, hello, darling! xoxoxxo

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      You tell 'em, Scott!  How sad when the tweeny-somethings think the '80s were the "old days"!  'Course, maybe it would overload their last working brain cell to mention the Thirties and Forties, which to be akin to BBF (back before dirt), when people still lived in caves and wore animal skins.  Couldn't possibly have been shoulder pads back then, right?

      Thanks for including the pic of BD - not because I'm a fan, but because her outfit is a prime example of how clothes used to look when *real* designers like Edith Head designed them.  They knew how to make women look *classy*, not - with all due respect to Marc Jacobs - like they threw together bits and pieces from Goodwill.  (I'm being nice - I could've said the rag bag...)

      And "funny" little hats?  Well, it's for sure they *would* look funny on today's straight-as-a-string hair, but the little hats from the Forties looked just fine on a *coiffure*.  (Some of you will have to google that...)

      Great Hub!