I was 14 when I bought my first party dress — it was black and white, sleeveless, with a drop-waist and a touch of retro, flapper flair. A few years later it was a white one with bright flowers, a complete departure from my usual all-black dressing. By the end of the decade I had fallen in love with the party dress and my taste had evolved, resulting in a preference for tight, strapless bodices and short, full, puffy skirts. There may have been the occasional bit of taffeta involved. There was, in my mind, no reason not to wear a party dress out to a club on a Tuesday night. Special occasions be damned, I thought, as I wriggled into a party dress, often pairing it with black fishnets, a leather jacket and clunky black ankle boots. There was no better time in the 20th century for partying and excess, reflected indeed by the ubiquitous ’80s party dress we all knew and loved.
1. Giorgio Sant’Angelo/Martha, Elle, November 1987. Photograph by Gideon Lewin.
2. Lawrence/Jacobson’s, Vogue, September 1987.
3. Wayne Maser for Vogue, October 1987. Clothing by Christian Lacroix.
4. Benjamin Kanarek for Domino, 1987. Clothing by Emanuel Ungaro.
5. Guy Bourdin for Vogue, June 1987. Clothing by Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.
6. Angelo Tarlazzi/Jimmy’s, Harper’s Bazaar, September 1988. Photograph by Dick Ballarian.
7. Bruno Dayan for Toronto Life Fashion, October 1987.
8. Arthur Elgort for Mademoiselle, November 1987. Clothing by Edina Ronay.
9. Tony McGee for Harper’s Bazaar, December 1985. Dress by Emanuel Ungaro.