BBC's Style on Trial featuring John Taylor

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Style on Trial – The 1980s
BBC Four, 22:00, Thursday 22nd January 2009


Stuart Maconie and Lauren Laverne cast a critical yet celebratory eye over the fashions of the 80s as they continue their hunt for the nation’s most stylish decade in Style on Trial.

Joining Stuart and Lauren in the studio tonight are former fashion editor of i-D magazine and host of The Clothes Show, Caryn Franklin; bass player from Duran Duran, John Taylor; and Stevie Stewart, a designer from Boy George’s favourite fashion label of the decade, Bodymap. Is the 80s the decade that style forgot? Or should it be remembered for more than big hair and big shoulders?

more on Style on Trial

Stuart Maconie and Lauren Laverne strike a critical pose as style and fashion between the 1940s and the 1990s come into sharp focus for Style on Trial.

Each decade enjoys an hour of analysis as our studio panels discuss and dissect the sartorial shapes and silhouettes that define an era.

From platforms to winkle-pickers, plastic dresses to safari suits, catwalk to high street – the clothes we put on our backs are discussed, decade by decade, by bespoke panels of three informed and opinionated guests.

With the war raging for the first half of the decade, and re-building and rationing creating hardship in the later years, was the forties the decade that style forgot? Or was it our finest hour? For the 40s, Stuart and Lauren are in conversation with Interior Designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen; international showgirl and author Immodesty Blaize; and Guardian columnist and former assistant to 40s fashion designer Norman Hartnell, Annalisa Barbieri.

An era of high glamour, sleek lines and exquisite detail, the fifties was the same decade that first offered the possibility of teenage rebellion. Discussing the 50s are the woman who auctions the clothes of the rich and famous, including Edward and Mrs Simpson, Kerry Taylor; fashion designer to royalty and the aristocracy David Sassoon; and hip boutique-owner and former pop-star Brix Smith-Start.

London leads the world as Chelsea Girls and Chelsea booted boys take their fashions international. But once we let it all hang out did style become the ultimate sixties drop out? The 60s come under the gaze of the man who created Diana Rigg’s catsuits in The Avengers, designer John Bates; Vogue’s ‘face of 1963’, ex-model Jill Kennington; and Eve Pollard who was on the staff at fashion magazine Honey during the swinging decade.

An exciting swirl of experimentation and excess culminating in the punk revolution? Or an aimless mish-mash of flash-in-the-pan dressing-up-box silliness? Joining Lauren and Stuart on their jaunt through the styles of the 70s are British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes; the maker of three tier wedge sandals to rock aristocracy of the decade, Terry de Havilland; and a man who as a teenager of the decade was heavily influenced into his own design future, Wayne Hemingway.

From Futurism and New Romantic to Power Dressing and Hip Hop, eighties fashion was extrovert, exuberant and fun. But was it cool? With former fashion editor of i-D magazine, Caryn Franklin; bass player of Duran Duran, John Taylor; and Stevie Stewart from Boy George’s favourite fashion label of the decade, Bodymap, could the studio panel be much more 80s?

An era of celebrity, glamour and the true democratisation of fashion? Or a bland, joyless decade in which the globalisation led to homogeneity of style? Red carpet design specialist Ben de Lisi is joined on the panel for the 90s by singer and fashion broadcaster Mica Paris; and musician, model and designer Pearl Lowe.

Most Stylish Decade
The 90-minute finale will see one contributor return as the advocate for each of the decades to make a case for their favourite era to be crowned the most stylish by our panel of fashion industry judges.