Milton Keynes shoppers have spoken out about the best and worst of fashion trends since centre:mk opened 40 years ago.
As the centre celebrates its 40th birthday today (Wednesday) its fashion team has launched a project called Four Decades of Style – 1979 to 2019.
They collaborated with former Vogue features editor Jo Craven on a special ‘Boomerangs, Fads and Icons’ report which identifies fashion headliners and boomerang trends as well as the fleeting fads revealing the cyclical nature of 40 years of fashion.
The report has also analysed responses from 1,000 survey respondents who have cast their minds back to the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, drawing out the vibrant popular culture and style moments they feel made these eras what they were.
Jo Craven said: “Four decades ago when centre:mk first opened, mobile phones were a futuristic fantasy, the final episode of Fawlty Towers was aired on TV, Harry hadn’t even met Sally and Blondie’s Heart of Glass was Top of the Pops.
“Now, 40 years on, we may still be listening to Blondie but the world has changed substantially. But it’s so much fun to identify the icons who still inspire us, the trends we still can’t quite believe were popular and the much-loved and surprise comebacks.”
The outright winner of the Boomerangs, Fads and Icons’ Charts was the swooshy 1970s.
Asked if they could turn back time, more than 40 per cent of respondents chose the seventies as their decade to revisit, whilst 29 per cent wished they’d actually lived through it.
Along with other key trends like platform shoes and bell bottom trousers, which 29 per cent of respondents voted as needing to stage a comeback, the love for seventies style is real, said Jo.
“The 70s with its disco vibes, slinky jumpsuits, knee high platform boots and swooshy midi skirts was a fun and flamboyant era, the fashions are feminine, flattering and easy to wear – more so than any other decade. Streetwear and Punk are there in the background but the mainstream iconic fashions are typified by images of Farah Fawcett and Bianca Jagger. This is why 70s fashion favourites come back time and again and will keep on coming back in their many forms," she said.
The Era of Excess – the 80s was voted the second favourite decade. There was a surprising enthusiasm for eighties style fromr respondents, with 27 per cent thinking power shoulder pads were a standout eighties trend and 20 per cent believing big hair was tops.
Jo said: “More was definitely more in the 80s. The charge was led by enduring female icons Madonna and Diana who come out top as the most iconic fashion influencers of the last four decades. Whilst there were some very hard to wear fashions in the 80s from cycling shorts to shell suits and pussy bows to puffballs, there was also power-dressing glamour in the extreme. Structured blazers with shoulder pads, voluminous hair, lace overload and strong make-up. Like the 70s trends, the power look was feminine and flattering and most importantly the 80s didn’t take fashion seriously. It was all about fun and bold statements.”
In the Queens and Kings of Style section, 22 per cent of respondents thought Madonna was one of the most iconic influences on fashion and beauty in the last four decades. Some 30 per cent credited Diana with having a huge influence on the way we dress today, while the late great David Bowie's androgynous, chameleon-like appearance made him the most influential male style icon of the four decades.
The biggest 'one-hit wonders' that should never return were voted puffball skirts and the mullet hairdo, short on top, long down the sides.
Jo Craven said: “There will always be one-hit wonders but they hold a special place in the cultural landscape – we never realise their short lived nature until later, and the fact that we embrace them wholeheartedly at the time shows how much we love fashion.”
Pop Culture Sensations included Geri Halliwell wearing THAT sequinned Union Jack dress, and Jennifer Aniston's hair in Friends, which prompted many people to iron their hair into sheets of layered, blunt perfection.
To celebrate nostalgic, unforgettable moments, centre:mk is curating a pop-up exhibition dedicated to the last 40 years, covering the various fashion styles as well as people, retail, facts about the centre and much, much more.
centre:mk shoppers are being treated to a weekend of fashion fun at ‘Style Fest’ which starts today (September 25) and runs until Sunday September 29.
There will be catwalk shows, beauty demonstrations, panel talks and seminars all housed in the main event space Middleton Hall.
Kim Priest, the project's director, said: “It only seems right that we mark our 40th anniversary with a celebration of the epic looks that our shoppers have enjoyed and embraced over the years, and are still embracing today.
“So many of the iconic trends from the last four decades keep on boomerang-ing back, season after season, and have resurfaced on the high street this AW19. Just like these fashion and beauty trends, the centre also keeps reinventing itself to offer the best for shoppers. We have over 190 top retailers, independent traders and thousands of fashion and beauty brands at centre:mk.”
The ‘Four Decades of Style – 1979 to 2019’ project consists of:
Fashion Heroes Trend report (available from September 2 as flip book online)
Four Decades of Style Exhibition (25 - 29 September)
Four Decades of Fashion Film & Fashion Shows (25 September)
Style Fest (28 and 29 September)