90s Fashion

The Rise of Designer Handbags 1980s-1990s

The 1980s was the age of conspicuous consumption and marked the rise of the designer brands, clearly identifiable and expensive, consumer icons that inspired obsessive desire. A time where sports influenced high fashion and pockets appeared in handbags for the “must have” pocket calculator and filofax.

No designer handbag was ever more decadent than the 1983 ‘Faberge Egg’ evening bag, which was rhinestone encrusted. In 1988 Donna Karan’s small evening bag that slipped into a tote was advertised as seen in their own right. 1984 Bottega Veneta’s advertising campaign slogan was “When Your Own Initials are Enough”. Karl Langerfield, chief designer of Chanel reworking the 2.55 in washable jersey, rubber and terry cloth. Moschino, launched in 1983, trademark good natured mockery of haute couture which became fashionable itself.

1990s smaller designer bags with giant H and CCs swung all over London, New York and Paris. Jane Shilton continued to provide affordable and well made bags. Smart handbags remained small and shapely, with twisted gilt bracelet handles from Saint Laurent, quilted denim from Chanel and Hermes signature Kelly bag, minaturised and worn around the neck.

British makers emerged in the 1990s in a long tradition of artist craftsman. London’s Bill Amberg’s “small rocket” bag is a great example, with black bridle leather, cast aluminium handles and nickel clamped feet. Anya Hinmarch and Lulu Guinness “House” contributed to the revival of small, feminine handbags. In 1997 milliner Philip Treacy created a collection of sculptured handbags where handbags became art.

Designer handbags were available in a bewildering choice of styles and materials; Luxury evening bags from Paloma Picasso, Nina Ricci, Lacroix, Daniel Swarovski, Herve Leger, Armani and Erickson Beamon. Fendi’s baguette bag, Min Min’s waist bag, beaded one-offs, little Eastern bags and Prada’s flat waist and legs bags of 1999 showed a wild diversity. One of the most decadent and innovative designer handbags of the 1990s was from Karl Lagerfeld, whose ‘2005’ handbag in the shape of a womans’ bottom paid tribute to the ‘2.55’ created by Gabrielle Chanel in 1955; with Polyethylene shell, aluminium frame, in black jersey, tweed or leather, and a shocking “fetishistic” interior with a corset style laced mobile phone holder.

Fashion Reincarnation

As the years go by woman’s fashion trends change but many styles re-appear time and time again. Styles which we may deem unfashionable today, may be hot property in ten years time. Here we take a look at fashion throughout the years, and the reincarnation of various styles and women’s fashion trends.


The 1960’s were famous for vintage clothing designs and flower power. Hippy chic was very much the fashion during this period, with flared jeans and sandals being the style of choice for many. The mini skirt was firmly introduced around this time and continued to make an impression throughout the 1970’s. Kaftans also became hugely popular during this time period, as did floral dresses and print designed styles. Women of the 1960’s were rarely seen out without their massive stiletto heels, heavy make up and beaded jewellery.


Many of the looks from the 1970’s were devised from styles from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. Flared trousers and mini skirts continued to be fashionable during this era, with hot pants and shorts also becoming key items for the wardrobe. Punk fashion came into play during the 1970’s, and platforms stayed as the shoe of choice for most women.


The 1980’s was the decade of probably the most varied and unusual trends the fashion world had ever seen. Madonna was a key influence on ladies trends during this era, making washed out jeans and lace look attractive. Leggings became favourable during this decade, as did shell suits (which luckily never made an appearance again!) The punk style from the 1970’s also continued during the 1980’s.


Platform heels from the 1970’s, made a return during the 1990’s, and some trends from the 20’s and 60’s also made a reappearance. The mini skirt again became fashionable at this time, as did the grunge look. During the 1990’s everyone wore jeans, and most have continued to do so up until the present day. Jeans worn with t-shirts or sweatshirts was a staple outfit for many people during this time period.

The Naughties!

The year 2000 and onwards has seen a lot of style reinventions from previous decades, particularly the 1980’s. Puffball skirts, and lace have all became popular again, as have bright colours and varieties of fabrics. Who would have guessed leggings would make the come-back they did during this period, or that the vintage look from the 1960’s would come back to inspire us all again. The ever evolving mini skirt has also been highly fashionable during the ‘naughties.’

It just goes to show that even though we are constantly seeing new styles and inspirational designs evolving, some trends just carry on throughout the years and never go completely out of fashion. I better hang on to my mum’s 60’s flares then… (just in case)

A Fashion Flashback

Decades of history are defined by many aspects, be it movies, Presidents, sports teams, etc., but one characteristic of a society that has represented and brought together generations of people since the beginning of time, is fashion. The U.S., in particular, has seen a large variety of clothing trends over the past one- hundred years and even today fashion continues to develop rapidly, each decade of couture building off of the one before. What exactly makes each generation so unique? Well, that’s for each to decide in their right, but the way in which each decade of Vogue built off of one another is no matter of opinion, but just requires a retrospective look at the history of American fashion.

Decades of Dress

Each decade of fashion most definitely has similarities, but it is also no secret that the differences between each of them, along with the constant development of creativity and style is what separates them in the eyes of each generation. With the start of predominant fashion development beginning in the 1930s, fashion in the United States has developed unique from other cultures, with fads coming and going along the way. While accessories such as corsets have all but faded from modern society, chokers are slowly creeping their way back into the daily style, a perfect example of how particular adornments develop over time.

The 1930s and 40s

· Suits

· Coats

· Fedoras

· Corsets

· Gloves

The 1950s (Beginning of change)

· Similar to 1930s and 40s (early 1950s)

· Sweaters

· Leather jackets (the late 1950s)

· Tight skirts (the late 1950s


· Mini dresses

· Tighter pants

· Pea coats

· Scarfs

1970s and 80s

· Bell bottoms (70s)

· Hippie style (70s)

· Tights pants/tights (80s)

· Chokers (80s)

· Cosby sweaters (80s)

· Miniskirts (80s)


· Flannel shirts

· Ripped jeans

· Windbreakers

· Baggy shorts (hip-hop, post 1993)

· Slip dresses


· Low rise jeans

· Miniskirts (1980 callbacks)

· Two button suits

· Newsboy caps

· Belly shirts

· Denim jackets


· Athletic shorts

· Printed T-shirts

· Pantsuits

· Chokers (Call back to 70s and 80s; recent)

· Tennis shoes

Why is Fashion Important?

The notion that each decade is inspired in some part by previous ones is very much supported by this rundown of fashion through the years. The style of the 1920s heavily influenced the 1930s and 1940s, but then once the late 1950s hit, much less conservative attire came about. Even in current society our fashion thrives based on the past, especially in female attire. Miniskirts are an obvious callback to the 1980s along with chokers, which have just recently, as of 2016, began to make their way back into the style of Midwestern culture. This reliance on each generation’s style for the next decade to thrive makes this fashion flashback entirely appropriate and also an extremely informative subject.

Calvin Klein Fashions

Calvin Klein started his fashion line in New York in the late 1960s. He started his brand by designing, and making coats. This business venture did well for him, and so he ventured into other products and services. Most notably, he is credited for starting the designer jean craze that started in the late 1970s, and expanded into the early 1990s. He was a pioneer of taking an article of clothing that was associated with the most casual of dress, cowboys, and gangs, and turned blue jeans into an article that the most hip and upscale people just had to have.

What he did was create a premium brand of blue jeans that were made from the most premium blend of denim. The jeans had a high cut that showcased the flat stomachs and bottoms that were fashionable body types of that time. The legs had straight and long tailoring. The jeans were accentuated with a cotton label embroidered with the Calvin Klein logo on the back of them. While the jeans got good press on their own, the jeans became legendary when the then 15 year old Brooke Shields, the premier teenaged model and actress, began to wear them in ad campaigns. Brooke had height, beauty, and sophistication that was well beyond her 15 years. At the same time, she was innocent. Calvin Klein used the natural contradictions that she exuded in his national ad campaigns for his jeans. She is credited for saying “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins”. These ads caused a bit of a scandal, because they were suggestive and enticing. Having said that, owning a pair of Calvin Klein jeans were a status symbol of those times.

Another actor who built his career with the Calvin Klein brand, is Mark Wahlberg. In the early 1990s, Mark was a rapper known as Marky Mark. He was in his early 20s at the time, and he was very hip and physically developed. Calvin used Mark as a model on the runway, and in his ad campaigns for his men’s cotton boxers. The ad campaign was a raging success. Young men wore their Calvin Klein labeled boxers exposed as a fashion statement. Marky Mark very shortly became Mark Wahlberg, “A” list actor.

Another model who built her career with the Calvin Klein brand, is Kate Moss. In the mid 1990s, Calvin Klein developed a unisex cologne, called CK one. This product was marketed as a scent that both hip and young men and women could wear. The ad campaign featured a young Kate Moss. Kate single handedly brought about the “waif” look that was very popular on the runways in the mid to late 1990s.

Calvin Klein produces sportswear, men’s undergarments, and a host of legendary perfumes and colognes, such as Obsession, Eternity for men and women, Escape, and Euphoria. There are several versions of each of these, and of course, CK One, with its many different versions. The Calvin Klein brand shows no sign of slowing down, and continues to be a top American brand with all of its products.

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