Monday, November 13, 2017

The 1980s: An Age of Excess at Kent State Museum of Fashion

Me (1988)

I was a teenager in the 1980s, graduated from high school in the 1980s, and had my first daughter in the 1980s. I watched MTV air in August 1981 at a friend's house (we didn't have cable television - most people didn't); I didn't care about "Who Shot JR?", but scrambled home from work on Tuesday evenings to watch Moonlighting (when Bruce Willis had hair); stood in line and waited for two hours outside of the Buzzard's Nest record store to buy Van Halen's new 1984 album; and camped out on my mom's waterbed for a day and watched all of Live Aid. The year my first daughter was born - 1989 - the Cold War ended in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell, and I sat transfixed to the television that summer as a lone man stood in protest before a tank in Tienanmen Square, Beijing. The decade that made up the 1980s was technologically innovative, politically charged, and ridiculously decadent, much like the '80s a century before.  

When I discovered that Kent State Museum of Fashion was featuring an exhibit from the 1980s, I flipped my lid in excitement. The 1980s: An Age of Excess, opened last February and concludes January 7, 2018. It is a marvelous presentation of the decade's high-end fashion and includes extant garments from designers Yves Saint Laurent, Halston, Perry Ellis, Valentino, Donna Karan, Bob Mackie, Issey Miyaki, Zandra Rhodes, Pauline Trigere, and a dozen others whose fashions graced the figures of superstars, politicians, and socialites alike. Here's a preview...

Bill Blass
An American designer who began his work in New York in 1945; he was one of the first designers to license his name and product lines. 

Pale pink knit sweater and satin skirt, c. 1984

Royal blue silk velvet gown with low V-back, c. 1986

Donna Karen
An American designer who began her career as a designer for Anne Klein in the 1960s. In 1985, Karan launched her own line of women's ready-to-wear and was one of the first designers to use stretch fabrics in her collections. 

Evening dress made from polyamide, elastane, and wool jersey, c. 1984

Hot pink linen jacket with matching pants and halter blouse, c. 1987

Oscar de la Renta
An American designer (Yes, American - born in the Dominican Republic) trained by Cristobal Balenciaga and Antonio del Castillo in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his evening wear, which dominated red carpet events throughout the 1980s. 

Royal blue moire gazar sleeveless gown, c. 1982

Two-piece lace and velvet evening gown with faux jewels, c. 1984

Perry Ellis
An American designer who established his sportswear label in 1978. He is known for his relaxed and casual designs.

 Grey and white striped jersey jacket and skirt, c. 1987

 Purple sequined chiffon blouse with silk skirt, c. 1989

Yves Saint Laurent
A French designer who began his career working in Paris for Christian Dior in the late 1950s. In 1962, Saint Laurent opened his own house, and is best known for his Mondrian collection in 1965 and his Russian collection in 1976. 

Velvet evening jacket and matching skirt, floral brooch, c. 1980

Metallic brocade jacket, silk shirt and skirt, with matching scarf, c. 1984

Kent State Museum of Fashion has an extensive costume collection from the 1980s; the museum opened in 1982 and several of the garments featured in the current exhibit are those worn by celebrity guests who attended the museum's opening gala. If you love the fashion of the 1980s, you must experience this exhibit.

For additional photos of The 1980s: An Age of Excess, please visit my Pinterest page. Blessings and happy sewing!

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