You again? Trends from the 1980s & 1990s we hoped we had seen the last of

From Louis Vuitton to Elie Saab, everyone is going crazy for retro

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 08: A guest wears Gucci sunglasses, a blue red and green sportswear sweater, a Gucci necklace, during London Fashion Week Men's June 2019 on June 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

If life is a cabaret, then fashion is a buffet, a smorgasbord of ideas that we can plunder at will. At least this seems to be the view for the upcoming autumn/winter season, which is such a mix of references that it's not so much about dictating definitive trends as about offering suggestions.

While we love this accessible approach, there are some things we will be handling with caution. Fashion will always reference back on itself, but there are a few trends that I, for one (having had to suffer them the first time around), wish had been left in the archives, where they belong.

The shell suit

Dsquared2 Milan Menswear Spring Summer 2019  Milan June 2018

Where to start? This shapeless, loose-fitting track suit was made of thin nylon, and usually came in panels of vivid colours. Whatever connection it had to sportswear was lost early on, leaving us with legions of shell suits rustling about as a poor excuse for daywear. Now seemingly back with a vengeance, this baggy ensemble has been seen at both DSquared2 and Gucci. It may score a straight 10 for comfort, but it seems too highly flammable to ever be truly relaxing to wear. Admittedly, the bright colours make for great road safety (remember children, 'Be safe, be seen'), but the low melting point makes straying too close to an open flame a serious concern. Spontaneous combustion tends to ruin one's day, and will reduce one's shiny new shell suit to ashes. Worst of all, it puts scented candles strictly off limits.


Who knew this look would be back from the teenage angsty depths of the 1980s, but yet, here it is again, skulking in corners, decked out in head-to-toe funereal black. Thankfully, this time around, we appear to have lost most of the pallid complexion and hangdog demeanour. Instead, Versace and Elie Saab are going for something more aloof, with killer aviators to boot. Although still decked out in lace and leather, the goth look is slightly more sunlight than Twilight.

Versace goes goth for autumn/winter 2019

The smiley face

The smiley face is back at Coach for autumn/winter 2019

No one who lived through the clubbing years of the late 1980s could have emerged unscathed from the onslaught of the yellow smiley face. A few years ago, it was repurposed and sanitised into an emoji, but for winter 2019 Coach is bringing it back into the real world, now in a fleshy pink. Reworking Harvey Ross Ball’s original artwork, the 2019 version has Japanese characters for eyes, dimples and (somewhat inexplicably) a dinosaur for a nose. All we can say is Aciiid.

Shoulder pads 

1980s shoulders at Louis Vuitton autumn/winter 2019

The 1980s mean many things to many people, but to stand-up comedian Eddie Murphy, it was shoulder pads. Big, beautiful shoulder pads. Presumably, then, he will be delighted with the throwback obsession. Seen at Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton, shoulders now feature Romanic side fastenings, cowl necklines and multicoloured panels so retro, no doubt Murphy will be overwhelmed with nostalgia and dig out his original Raw tour outfits.

And at Stella McCartney autumn/winter 2019


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