Hair metal look
With bands like Poison and Cinderella prancing around onstage in imitation of earlier glamsters like the New York Dolls or T-Rex, it was safe to say that glam rock was back.
Were they boys or girls? Blending the sexes was nothing new, and these rockers were merely a continuation of the gender-bending that flourished among rock stars in the 70's. Instead of rock and roll, it was now the 80's heavy metal scene that adopted the cross-dressing look. The L.A. club scene was ground zero, as bands like Mötley Crüe and Ratt donned makeup to distinguish themselves from the overwhelming amount of ‘straight’ metalheads.
As the scene exploded, this femme style became a surefire way to get the girls (as well as their lipstick and eyeliner). The makeup turned less extreme, but these “hair bands,” as they were affectionately known, still knew the value of looking pretty. These men strutted around the stage in skintight leathers, stretch denim, and in some cases (we’re looking at you, David Lee Roth), they sported a pair of chaps with nothing underneath. Decadence returned to the music scene. Hair was grown long, and bangs were teased into gravity-defying positions. Even old-school-style rockers like Guns N’ Roses, more at home with Aerosmith covers than Sweet knock-offs, flirted at least briefly with the pretty boy look (check out Axl’s teased-up hair in the “Welcome to the Jungle” video if you don’t believe us).
The tamer boys experimented with black eyeliner, while the more outrageous stole their sister’s compacts. Boys discovered their sexuality, and girls couldn’t resist having a boyfriend that was more like a girlfriend. They shared makeup, hairspray, and even clothes. These metal bands exposed a new generation to the glitter and sparkle that had supposedly met its demise the decade before. Of course, those same kids turned to dirty flannels and Nirvana when grunge hit in late '91, but that hair metal phase sure was pretty while it lasted.