New Romantic

New Romantic

Fashion Synopsis

A Flock of Seagulls. Need we say more?

Mike Score, frontman for A Flock of Seagulls, defied both gravity and convention with his distinctive waterfall haircut. Legions of teenagers followed suit to create a massive trend with hair that would be the crowning glory of an already expressive fashion following known as new romantic, or Nu-ro.

At the height of the punk movement, fashion-conscious teens were deemed poseurs because of their lack of political rebellion. They were more interested in dressing up than dressing down, so they split off from the “Hard Punks.” Scenesters like George O’Dowd (later to become Boy George) and Visage singer Steve Strange turned towards the extravagant stylings of glam rock, preferring glamour to angst, fantasy to anarchy. This blending of punk and glam evolved into a “new wave” of synthesizer music that found a ready audience in the congregations of the dance club.

Having separated from its punk origins, Nu-ro solidified into the new 80’s alternative subculture. The media, needing a label to discern the new music/fashion movement, dubbed the club kids “new romantics” for their addiction to glamour and fantastic looks. The kids altered their punk roots, mixing leather with scarves, zippers with pearls. Lace jabots on silky poet shirts spilled from military jackets, asymmetrical collars folded away from soft cowl necks, and strands of pearls and cameo brooches adorned patent leather dresses. Vintage and new blended together to create an extreme, fantasy-driven style.

Hair was experimental art: teased into outrageous proportions, it fell whimsically back into the face to obscure one’s vision, or was tied up and shaped like sculpture. Obscure, unnatural colors were favored for hair. Makeup was bright and bold, as blush streaked across cheeks like a warrior’s war paint and eyes were like rainbows.

There were no limits to the costume ball that was the Nu-ro movement, but the look is best remembered in music groups like Adam and the Ants, Missing Persons and the group that brought the style mainstream, Duran Duran.

While the look was classically early eighties, it continued to be a term used for alternative fashions as it evolved into a softer look best displayed in the John Hughes classic Pretty in Pink. Andie’s Victorian florals and pink lace, Duckie’s sharkskin suits, bolo ties and creepers all evolved from the original Nu-ro movement. But even with the alterations over the course of the decade, that famous blonde waterfall hairstyle remains the emblem of 80’s new wave music and new romantic fashion.

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