In ExcessOctober 1, 2007 By: Brett Vinovich American Salon
This month, The Way We Were, sponsored by Zotos, remembers the 1980s. The decade may have begun with double-digit inflation, but by the end of it, binge buying and easy credit had us all saying, "If you've got it, flaunt it." Hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts and mega-mergers created a different kind of billionaire when Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley (RIP) and Ivan Boesky gave new meaning to the term "rich and famous." The defining novel of the decade? The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe.
Still, art thrived in the '80s when Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Marisol and Jean-Michel Basquiat were turning the art world upside down. I got a front-row seat to all of this when I started working for Andy Warhol's Interview in 1984.
Fashion screamed red once Nancy Reagan landed in the White House. Meanwhile, Dynasty sent Joan Collins and Linda Evans into our living rooms wearing Nolan Miller and over-sized shoulder pads. Lace was popular for evening, and lace collars became all the rage after Princess Diana discovered them. The early designers of the romantic look included Vivienne Westwood, who also designed for English pop star Adam Ant, lead singer for the New Wave/post-punk band Adam & the Ants. On the radio, we were listening to Duran Duran, INXS, MC Hammer, Spandau Ballet, David Bowie and the karma-karma-karma-karma-karma chameleon himself, Boy George. Then there was MTV (Music Television), which began broadcasting on August 1, 1981, one year before compact discs, or CDs, first became available. In its infancy, MTV played nonstop music videos, which were designed to generate sales of new albums (if you have to ask what those are, then you need to stop reading), and it had an enormous impact on music and youth. When Dire Straits released a single called "Money For Nothing," the catchphrase "I Want My MTV" became part of the cultural lexicon.
Hairstyles in the '80s came in two sizes—large and larger—but men and women with short hair knew how to volumize as well. Gel or mousse? It was a toss-up as to which styling product was more important.
Of course, every decade makes certain contributions to the vernacular, and the '80s were no different. Remember Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals), Dinkies (Double Income No Kids) and Empty Nesters (couples whose children have flown the coop, so to speak)? So what's changed since then? Those empty nests are filling up again as kids who've gotten divorced or lost their jobs move back home. Meanwhile, the Yuppies are once again making headlines. New York magazine just reported that they're returning to the Upper West Side. —Brett Vinovich, publisher, email@example.com