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Designers tumbled for the eighties this season—and they fell hard. So did makeup artists and hairstylists, who transformed dewy-skinned Slavic teenagers into Gorgeous Georges with contoured cheeks, brightly painted lips and eyes, and braided and crimped locks. Yes, (Boy) George Alan O'Dowd, the onetime Culture Club front man and current guest of Her Majesty's prison service, is one of the season's touchstones. While designers may not have name-checked him specifically in their show notes, his influence is inescapable—let's face it, not even Alexis Carrington piled as many eighties signatures into a single look.
Decades before the MisShapes reinvented club-kid chic, O'Dowd was working it with conviction. As for androgyny, no one did it better than the Boy, whose playful persona had a more approachable appeal than that of his fellow traveler, Taboo founder Leigh Bowery.
As it turns out, the crooner has an affinity for the kind of nostalgic escapism fashion gave into this season. "It's ironic," he told Rolling Stone way back in 2000, "that if you go back to Thatcherism and Reaganism, a lot of cool things happened during that decade. A lot of sexual attitudes were loosened up a bit, and we had some interesting music. So sometimes, within these right-wing climates, you have an artistic reaction." What the runways proved for Fall is that a financial crisis breeds a similar inventiveness. Call it karma.