Shoul­der pads! Big sleeves! The spirit of the Eight­ies is back on the cat­walk. And about time, says Dame Power hun­gry! Why I’m glad to see the re­turn of Eight­ies style

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - REPORTAGE -

Just when I thought to­day’s modern fash­ion couldn’t get any more hideous, along comes a whiff of sen­si­bil­ity: the re­turn of so-called ‘power-dress­ing’ for AW17, a la Dy­nasty. So, hello and wel­come back even big­ger sleeves (Ba­len­ci­aga, Tibi), small waists (Saint Lau­rent, Is­abel Marant) and com­fort­able trouser suits (Ellery and Calvin Klein). Clothes that flat­ter a real woman’s body.

‘Ex­cru­ci­at­ingly taste­less’ is a com­mon as­sess­ment of the Eight­ies in re­cent years, but I’ve al­ways felt the decade was un­fairly ma­ligned and ar­gue that over­all, it was very be­com­ing. Granted, Eight­ies fash­ion even­tu­ally de­gen­er­ated into car­toon clothes such as floppy dol­man-sleeved sweaters worn over mas­sive shoul­der pads, faux Chanel jack­ets cov­ered in bling and dozens of gold mil­i­tary but­tons. But at least no one went out in py­ja­mas.

In the Eight­ies, Dy­nasty be­came the most pop­u­lar se­ries on prime­time TV, not least be­cause of the gor­geous and glam­orous out­fits cre­ated by Nolan Miller for all the ac­tresses. I en­joyed work­ing with Nolan, help­ing to cre­ate the el­e­gant and stylish out­fits for my char­ac­ter, Alexis Car­ring­ton Colby. When Alexis had to com­mand groups of men, ei­ther in her of­fice or the board­room, she needed to look fem­i­nine but ruth­less. The look em­pow­ered women and, across the world, ca­reer women were tak­ing to tai­lored suits and well-coiffed, lac­quered hair.

Power-dress­ing even proved true for me in the Nineties, when I fought the Go­liath that was Ran­dom House in a real-life US court­room drama to pro­tect my rep­u­ta­tion as a writer, af­ter they tried to take away an ad­vance they had given me for a book.

I ap­peared each day in court wear­ing sub­dued colours and sober and sim­ple out­fits. I looked and felt vul­ner­a­ble, and was bul­lied and ha­rassed by the el­derly pros­e­cu­tor (who I thought was a to­tal chau­vin­ist, by the way). I even­tu­ally burst into tears be­cause I felt so in­tim­i­dated, and I thought I was los­ing the case. The next day, a lawyer friend sug­gested I ‘be­come Alexis’ both in at­ti­tude and out­fit and stand up to Mr Pros­e­cu­tor, so I did just that. I put on a vi­brant blue pin­striped skirt suit, a state­ment pearl choker and white, V-necked silk gilet and I im­me­di­ately felt, and con­se­quently be­haved, con­fi­dently and as­sertively. I was sud­denly to­tally in charge, telling the old man not to come near me, to stop in­tim­i­dat­ing me and over­all call­ing the shots in the cross-ex­am­i­na­tion. I be­lieved my clothes were my ar­mour and I won the case. Princess Di­ana was also at the fore­front of wear­ing trend­set­ting out­fits of that decade and I must con­fess that Nolan and I some­times bor­rowed a few of her ‘looks’ from pic­tures in mag­a­zines and news­reels. Al­though since she was given the moniker ‘Dy­nasty Di’, it was a fine line who bor­rowed from whom. I like to think that we col­lab­o­rated in up­ping the stakes of that glam­orous decade. That’s not to say I didn’t go too far some­times. In Paris, I bought an ex­tremely POWER DRESS­ING: GLAMOUR PER­SON­I­FIED: avant-garde suit from Pierre Cardin with enor­mously high an­gel-shaped sleeves that prac­ti­cally cov­ered my cheeks. I wore the suit in an episode of Dy­nasty but a prob­lem emerged when I had to an­swer a phone, and strug­gled get­ting the re­ceiver to my ear. Our es­teemed pro­ducer sent me a memo the next day to the ef­fect of, ‘Don’t wear that jacket again — it’s you we want to see, not your f ****** shoul­der pads.’ Skim­ming through the Au­gust is­sues of glossy, trend­set­ting mag­a­zines, I couldn’t find any­thing to wear that would suit me, so I’m de­lighted that there is a re­turn to so-called Eight­ies fash­ion. I say ‘so-called’ be­cause all fash­ion is cycli­cal and, in fact, those broad shoul­ders and cinched waists were all the rage in the For­ties, as worn by leg­endary film stars like Joan Craw­ford and Lau­ren Ba­call. In fact, the For­ties is a well-ad­mired decade fash­ion-wise, which is why I find it cu­ri­ous that so-called fash­ion­istas have con­stantly de­rided the Eight­ies. I have never stopped wear­ing shoul­der pads, big sleeves and long ear­rings. I strongly be­lieve, as did the iconic Claudette Col­bert and Ba­call, that if you find a style that suits you, you stick with it, be­cause fash­ion is ephemeral but style is eter­nal.

Joan Collins home in 1983 and left, still stylish and stun­ning ear­lier this year

The looks on the cat­walk this sea­son, rem­i­nis­cent of Joan’s char­ac­ter in Dy­nasty (in­set top) and with an­other style icon, Cara Delev­ingne

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