With the Indian film industry journeying towards greater heights in cinematic brilliance, the enigmatic 80s raised the glitz and glamor ante too. The transition from the eccentric 70s to the eloquent 80s was smooth and glitch free in matters related to the kind of movies we savored. But the same wasn't the fate of the fashion linkage. Bollywood lost the charm of experimentation to subtle and stilted styling in the early 80s and it continued till the emergence of professional stylists and designers way later. But not all was lost during this dull season and thus there remained certain names and emerged few new who made the era of the 1980s not just known for its marvelous scripts but also for its maverick way of fashion.
The glittering gowns and the fitted suits
The early 80s was highly influenced by the gangster culture of the West. The cabaret singers swaying in glittering gowns and twirling feather boas, to the men dapper in suits exchanging unambiguous briefcases and the firing of innumerable bullets following it was original to every film made then. And the attraction of this was no less. Audiences lost their hearts to Zeenat Aman's silver clad body swaying to the tunes of "Laila Main Laila" and slayed their souls for Hema Malini when she flitted around in a black number, mouthing the words of "Mere Naseeb Mein". Then there was the frenzy of fangirls for the ever dashing Feroz Khan draped in a tuxedo in Qurbani to the charming boy next door Rishi Kapoor of Karz.
The royal anarkalis and the disco overalls
Whenever the era of 80s will be remembered, its memories cannot shine through without the mention of Umrao Jaan and Disco Dancer. Where Rekha reminisced the tragedy of a broken heart in yards of silk and chains of pearls, the disco king Mithun Chakraborty broke many a hearts through his pelvic moves in glittering silver and golden costumes. These looks were time and again used throughout the decade, some of which matched the original grandeur while some lay forgotten.
The silk salwaars and the sleek pants
Mid 80s has been somewhat credited to have brought down the fashion quotient in Bollywood, though even if we can't fight off the title, the truth seems have come out gradually. The costumes had toned down to become dresses more wearable in real life and thus the forever running masquerade party had come to an end. Performances were given more credit and hiding behind articulation had ceased. The simple salwaar kurtas adored by Amrita Singh to the docile Bhagyashree Dassani in Maine Pyar Kiya, fashion was now for all. The men too indulged in being comfortable and the casual looks of Rishi Kapoor to the emerging heartthrobs Aamir Khan, Jackie Shroff and Salman Khan in late 80s, were a rage among the audiences.
The shimmering sarees and the sweltering sweaters
Romance was still high in the 80s and this particular feeling was exploited in all ways that had still remained unused by the filmmakers of the past. Foreign locations, designer sarees and soothing music was the new formula of a blockbuster. Who could forget Rekha's urban demur from Silsila to Sridevi Kapoor's willowy silhouette in Chandni drapped in chiffon sarees? And when the women gave winter a cold shoulder, the heroes rescued the season in cashmere sweaters and fur coats. From Amitabh Bachchan to Rishi Kapoor, the eyes were never deprived of beauty.
The variant dresses and the varying denims
The indulgence in Indian wear by our heroines was noticeably one of the best fashion feature of the 80s. But this did not mean that the influence of the West had dimmed. What had changed was the kind of dresses they chose. Once again comfort and subtlety was the main requirement. From sheath to cocktail and from jumpers to wraps, dresses were innumerable in all colors and sizes. Tina Munim Ambani and Dimple Kapadia were the main forerunners of bringing this style statement into Bollywood. Our heroes on the other hand took up to the rockstar look with love. The rugged denims and the biker jackets had made their way into the wardrobes of our boys-next-door.
The shining manes and the stylish cuts
The clothes were not the only thing that revived to become more human than alien, the hair too were at last relieved from the eternal bondage of wigs. The long lush and shiny manes were all over the place. The sleek straight hair of Parveen Babi, the natural fall of Dimple Kadapia's brownish glory and the soft curls of young Juhi Chawla became the envy for all. To match with these beauties, men too went ahead to have a groomed head. Rishi Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt and Aamir Khan to name a few preferred to go with trimmed hair rather than anything fancy.
The minimal make-up and the magnum maleness
The ending years of the 80s had left behind the ruse and caking up days. Though it started with Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil whose contribution to realist cinema will not only remembered by their stellar performances, but also the way they accentuated and advertised natural beauty. Towards the end, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Juhi Chawla too recognized this sense of styling. Moreover, the men had taken up to be alpha now. Gone were the days of grooming. They were now packed with muscles and adrenaline ran with abundance.
The era of 1980s has been highly appreciated for its cinematic work and equally thrashed for the lack of frills and fancy. But now that we know the workings of the industry a little better, we can see that what has been still considered as a stepping down phase was merely an evolution from what had been to what will be. The 80s was ahead of its time and today if we are closet to any era of the past, then 80s will surely be considered a Siamese twin.
Writer: Nabila S.
Editor(s): Urooj K. and Jenifer Y.
Graphics: Nabila S.
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