September 1984 was decades before the movie, The September Issue, was released, but even back then the teenage me wouldn’t have had to watch a documentary to know that the year’s biggest, baddest and thickest issue of Vogue was special.
I had just turned 14 when this issue came out and there are two things I remember distinctly about it: the Unisa ad with the knitted-leg boots and the one for Katharine Hamnett’s oversize social-awareness T-shirts which Wham! had popularized in their Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go video earlier that year.
While I still love me an oversize T-shirt on occasion and I can totally imagine my current neighbourhood hipsters sporting the Unisa boots, there are other things that strike my 40-something self more when revisiting the issue now.
First and foremost it’s the layering and the knits. It all looks so wearable, comfortable and chic — three qualities in garments that rarely seem to go together. The rich, deep jewel tones, too, make me start to rethink my wardrobe, which has evolved over the years into a series of utilitarian basics in mostly black and grey. It wouldn’t kill me to add a bit of colour and I find myself wanting to wrap myself up in swathes of Perry Ellis coats, sweaters and skirts with tights.
Another big trend of fall ’84 was texture. It’s everywhere in the ads and editorials. Tweed and leather, silk and lace, wool and taffeta, denim and suede. Fur with everything. Naturally, it’s over-the-top in the way the ’80s did best, but there are plenty of elements and ideas to take away to wear today.
Shapes, too, were key, my favourites then being the dolman sleeve and funnel collar, though not necessarily together. I loved dolman/batwing sleeves in ninth grade and my eighth grade daughter loves them now — minus the giant shoulder pads of course. I can’t see her or any of her friends sporting a funnel collar. And unless it was a beautifully sculpted vintage Issey Miyake or Claude Montana jacket I can’t see it on me, either.
What I can see, however, are the dropped-waist dresses and the big-on-top/skinny-on-the-bottom silhouette that’s speeding back into fashion. The ’80s version was often more extreme, but as the photos in Vogue’s September 1984 issue show, it all comes around again.
All images originally appeared in the September 1984 issue of Vogue:
1. Kim Alexis photographed by Richard Avedon. Blouse by Oscar de la Renta.
2. Katharine Hamnett. Photograph by Peter Lindbergh.
5. Photograph by Olivieri Toscani. Sweater by Kasper; skirt by Norma Kamali.
6. Photograph by Irving Penn. Clothing by Perry Ellis.
8. Tannery West. Photograph by Albert Watson.
9. Emanuel Ungaro. Photograph by Helmut Newton.
Thirty-Year Flashback is a monthly feature on periodicult.com.