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October: Fashion Killer: Highlights from The Gordon's 80s Fashion Extravaganza

by Ashlee Simpson on 2022-10-14T11:30:00+11:00 | 0 Comments

Image ‘Who is it? 79 82 or 51!’ by John Twohig via Flickr, licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Picture this: It’s the 80s! Perms are in, puffy sleeves are the norm, A-Ha, Wham!, and Cyndi Lauper are on repeat, and you are seated front row at The Gordon’s fashion show. 

A hybrid between dance-off and runway show, the fashion students of 1980 and 1981 worked tirelessly to create a collection that was reflective of the ever-changing fashion landscape. From then to now, the industry has continued to move in tandem with the world around us. As fashion diversified, the lines of gendered clothing broke, and the artistic prevailed, the fashion industry has continued to redefine and refine what is “hot” within the decade’s cultural landscape; having ‘produced a wider “ungendering” of fashion… reflect[ing] and support[ing] the proliferation and fluidity of gender identification’ (Clark & Rossi 2015:202). Within the chapter ‘Clothes (Un) Make the (Wo)Man – Undendering Fashion (2015)?’ from Crossing Gender Boundaries, the authors explore how we are currently in the prime era of fashion ungendering itself, alike the stimulating fashion choices from the 80s, and question how, over time, if culture is ‘a sign of a more significant fashion shift, or simply another passing “fashion moment”? (2015:202). 

The 1980s came directly after the second-wave feminist movement from the 60s and 70s, where conceptualised gender constructs were beginning to be questioned as a form of performativity. Then preceded by the birth of queer studies, the 80s are situated at a crucial moment in fashion history. John Peacock writes ‘In the 1980s, youth culture no longer dominated fashion… for women as well as men, minimal elegance was the aim’ (1998:7). In studying this ever-changing fashion landscape, students at the Gordon worked to redefine the lines of fashion, exhibiting a fashion extravaganza like no other. Here are a few highlights from the show: 

Classy evening wear or business chic for all, these two models encapsulated what it meant to dress in comfort and style: 

Image sourced from The Gordon VCR Tapes. 


Brilliantly coloured and as extravagant as the decade itself, this segment of the show saw a range of models dancing, strutting, and exercising to a range of curated workout gear. Their attire absolutely matched their personality: energetic and colourful:

Image sourced from The Gordon VCR Tapes. 


Ruffles were in during 1981, where this range drew upon how texture can compensate for colour and pattern. Swishing their arms about and with headgear draped around mullets and perms, this team of designers told a story through their design:

Image sourced from The Gordon VCR Tapes. 


Recommended Reads:

The 1980s by John Peacock
Filled with beautifully illustrated designs by John Peacock, this text explores the core of 80s fashion through 317 illustrations. From the typical “power dressed” woman, to the conventional male style, the text explores day and evening wear, sports and leisure wear, accessories, and more: all a window into the extravagant garments of the time.
Available from the City Campus library.




The Fashion Forecasters: A Hidden History of Colour and Trend Prediction by Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Ben Wubs (eds.)
The Fashion Forecasters
is the first book to reveal the hidden history of colour and trend forecasting and to explore its relevance to the fashion business of the past two centuries. In analysing colours, fabrics, silhouettes, and styles since the 18th century, the editors explore the development of fashion from the industrial era, through the 20th century, and its continued importance in today’s digital fast-fashion culture.
Available from the City Campus library.





Fashion Show: Paris Style by Pamela A. Parmal and Didier Grumbach (eds.)
Both a historical overview and an up-to-the-minute spectacular, Fashion Show explores the ever-fascinating world of Paris couture. Featuring the most influential couturiers of the City of Lights, as well as discussing the current state of Paris fashion and the role of runway shows in the greater fashion system, this text has a variety of stunning, vibrant, high-definition photographs illustrating the essence of European style.
Available from the City Campus library.



Words by Ashlee Simpson, Digital & Library Engagement Officer. 



Reilly, A & Barry, B (2020) Crossing Gender Boundaries, pub. Intellect: Bristol, UK, retrieved October 10 2022,

Peacock, J (1998) ‘Introduction’, in The 1980s, pub. Thames and Hudson: London, UK.

            Twohig, J (2020) Who is it? 79 82 or 51!, via Flickr, retrieved October 10 2022, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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