Exhibits / February 20, 2018
Christmas day, 1982. Stomach heavy with the contents of her Cadbury selection box, swaddled in the acrylic comfort of her new Argos pyjamas, the typical tween’s thoughts have naturally turned to the god-like powers of creation afforded by the inevitable coloring section of the holiday Annual. Look-in’s 1982 offering is fashion-based, with four pages featuring the year’s hottest trends for our eager youth to adorn in felt tip. By Boxing Day, the colors will have bled through the page, marring Angus Allen’s hard-hitting feature on the questionable cultural importance of the Eurovision Song Contest, but for now our tween is contented, sated on artistic self-expression and the tribalistic nature of pop culture consumption, as well as Curly Wurlys.
Look-in magazine was UK television channel ITV’s attempt to lure the pre-teen demographic to its slightly suspect, non-BBC fold with comic strips and photo features of the biggest TV and music stars of the day. The magazine’s 1982 end-of-year pop Annual is typical of its kind, offering pinups, a chance to discover what career Soft Cell’s David Ball would have chosen if he hadn’t been called to music stardom (a chef), and a six-page spread unpacking the eldritch mysteries of polyphonic synthesizers.
Here then are the four fashion trends the magazine chose to immortalize in 1982. Perhaps you can print them out and color them in? Did you know that Nick Heyward of Haircut 100 would like to be a tractor driver?
By 1982, the snarling junkyard dog of punk had been defanged and neutered enough to feature in a children’s pop annual. At least the punk on the left (we’ll call her Judy) has the decency to look embarrassed about it. Dr. Marten’s boots are afforded their rightful prominence, appearing on right punk’s (let’s go with Big Dave) feet, and also lurking behind him as if a giant punk Cinderella had recently fled a ball before her coach turned back into an old pumpkin, her white horses into filthy rats, and her suave footman into Malcolm Mclaren.
Judy’s fishnets and the studded belt and cuffs are a nod to the influence of punk godmother Vivienne Westwood. Judy is trying, but Big Dave lacks the snaggle-teeth and spots necessary to make a truly authentic punk. A good punk should infect one with both the aura of ravaged working class vigor and a lavish crop of facial herpes.
As with punk, disco’s glitter was beginning to tarnish by the early 80s. Once the province of America’s hip black and gay communities, Disco had been scrubbed clean and made the province of any dorky middle class white guy with high-waisted pants and a sense of betrayal over the Bee Gees Living Eyes album.
These Disco outfits have moved beyond ’70s flares and stacked heels to incorporate every lazy 1980’s party attendee’s favorite accessories-oversized bows, side ponytails, and robot glasses. Disco Don (from Doncaster) sports a pleasingly baggy pair of drop-crotch trousers. He probably came straight from work and has a cheese sandwich in the pocket for later. He’ll sit on it without noticing on the bus and wind up dancing the night away with chutney all over his saddle shoes. He looks the type.
Disco Debbie (from the secretarial pool) goes full Starlight Express with a set of roller boots and a medical kit suitable for treating minor roller contusions—disco being at times an exacting mistress. I guess Somebody humanely euthanize Gene Kelly already: The Movie (or, as it was later renamed, Xanadu) still carried enough cultural cachet in 1982 for the inclusion of the roller boots. We should have salted the earth with toxic glitter after the abomination of 1979’s Roller Boogie. How is it possible to make a boring movie when the ‘plot’ features the kid from The Exorcist doing roller disco alongside every American homosexual possessing two legs and a disregard for the stretch capacity of manmade fabrics? The mind boggles.
I like this page. Nightlife. It’s like that one Black Mirror episode about nostalgic lesbian zombies fucked a cocktail waiter onboard a pirate ship. I feel a The Aristocrats! joke ending in The New Romantics! coming on, but, as this is a serious cerebral internet publication, I’ll refrain. We’ll name leftie Shazzam!, and righty can be Alan Mirage.
The New Romantics (Also known as Blitz Kids and New Dandies) were a reaction to the austere tail-end of punk. Taking their aesthetic influence from tubercular romantic poets via David Bowie, the New Romantic nightclub scene was ruled by an iron fist in a glove made of something far more fashionable than velvet by figures like Steve Strange and Boy George. Alan Mirage’s outfit is a little bit Bryan Ferry, a little bit Adam Ant. Shazzam appears to be a Misfit waiting for her cartoon to be made.
This page is great. I’d use my favorite pens for this one. Maybe I’d even steal the pink highlighter from dad’s office for Alan’s tux.
Creepy claw-like hands the model’s own. Townies threatening to kick Alan Mirage’s head in on the night bus not pictured.
Ugh, I hate these people. I’m actually unwilling to look directly at them. I keep hoping a Magic Eye 3D image of the Statue of Liberty will appear in the berserk background design to save me, but after ten minutes it isn’t happening. We’re going in…
We’ll call leftie Margaret, and righty can be Smug Keith. I don’t trust people who jog. Why can’t they graciously accept, like everyone else, that human existence is a remorseless physical decline ending in death? Couldn’t the last page have been goths? You can just tell that by 1985 Smug Keith has risen to the top of his stockbroker firm and Margaret is developing a valium addiction while joylessly screwing the gardener in her minimalist Surrey jail cell.
Smug Keith has treated himself to a Walkman. Maybe he’ll get mugged? I bet he’s listening to “Tubular Bells” and impotently daydreaming about strangling sex workers with the headphone cable, like a budget Home Counties Patrick Bateman. Wanker.
Margaret sports a pair of legwarmers. Legwarmers, and dancewear in general, were huge in the 1980s following American mega-hits Fame and Flashdance, and pond-hopping hit UK musical about suicidal cats, Cats. Normally I could go on for pages about leg warmers, but I keep spotting Smug Keith’s complacent face out of the corner of my eye and it’s making me ill. Aerobics. Jane Fonda. Visors. Nah, I can’t do it.
Can we please have goths instead? I don’t care if my black pen runs out. This is like a fucking fashion version of The Lorax, warning us of the hideous capitalist excesses to come. Boys and girls, I want you all to take your biggest, chunkiest pen and beneath this image print the word: UNLESS…