London and Milan fashion week have been a tour de force of decade references but with one thing in common, while the trapezium silhouette and quirky paradigms (hello, Afghan gilets) of the ’70s rule the roost – they’re manifested in pattern form. Having barely made it beyond infancy for most of the decade, I don’t remember the ’80s particularly well; the image most authentically etched in my memory was one of primary coloured patterns straddling every last inch of upholstery in sight, comprised either of obnoxious dots and squiggles or geometric, slightly Bauhaus-esque shapes (and no, to avoid confusion, I don’t mean the band). The decade’s more iconic features of shoulder pads, frizzy hair and cruelty to poor people came to me later in life through historian’s curiosity, rather than first-hand experience. So, imagine my nostalgic delight at JW Anderson’s dresses, coats and belts sporting the very colour scheme and patterns that were burned so warmly into the deepest corners of my memory. The vision with which the designer embraced the decade, keeping shoulders and sleeves controlled and incorporating leather skirts and slouched boots into the references instead of the clichés, was made distinctive by the motifs. The collection was visibly inspired by the ’80s but still looked like it was from 2015.
The same could be said of Jonathan Saunders’ prints of wavy ombre lines that brilliantly echoed the psychedelic geometry of ’70s fabrics; of the minimal and contrasting colour schemes of Peter Pilotto’s collection; of the warm, two-colour patterns on Gucci’s coats; of the ’60s-style geometric prints at Fendi; of the scattered patchwork florals on Burberry Prorsum’s coats and a bow to Ossie Clark at Topshop Unique. These references capture the aesthetics of their respective decades in a way that isn’t costume-like pastiche. Much like the furniture, upholstery and wallpaper that the designs that inspired them adorned, they convey a mood like the warmth of a room. It’s a subtle, evocative and almost ambient take – a unique art of the furniture.