Most Influential Fashion and Style Celebrities of the 80s

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Shaped by larger-than-life personalities and trendsetters of the 80s, the decade is recognized as one of the most iconic in fashion, beauty, and style.

Icons like Annie Lennox, Joan Collins, and Whitney Houston to legendary designers like Ralph Lauren and Jean-Paul Gaultier left an indelible mark on modern fashion and style.

Madonna’s cone bras, Michael Jackson’s glittery jackets, and Boy George’s androgynous style pushed boundaries and set new standards in fashion.

Time to explore the following pop icons and fashion designers who were the most influential people of the 80s.

1. Madonna

Most Influential Fashion and Style Celebrities of the 80s

With controversial stylistic choices (for those times), Madonna – or the ‘Queen of Pop,’ had a massive influence on the 80s fashion for women.

“Madonna was the queen of the eighties and the one who defined the era’s fashion, the one who set the trends.”

said Anna Sui, a fashion designer from NY.

Throughout the decade, Madonna continued to evolve her image and style to stay at the forefront of music and media.

Nowadays, thanks to her music and unique fashion choices such as lace, fishnet stockings, and religious imagery, Madonna is remembered as the most prominent fashion icon of the 80s.

“Madonna’s influence on fashion in the 1980s was undeniable. She was the ultimate style icon of the era, paving the way for a new type of beauty standard.”

said Robin Givhan, a fashion critic.

2. Grace Jones

Grace Jones Influenced the 80s Fashion

With an androgynous look and bold fashion choices, Grace Jones redefined the beauty and fashion standards of the 80s decade.

Incorporating stylistic elements of masculinity and femininity, Jones had a unique style that challenged the time’s societal norms and pushed the boundaries of fashion.

“Grace Jones was one of the most influential fashion icons of the 1980s. Her androgynous look and bold fashion choices helped to pave the way for a new type of beauty standard”

said Rebecca C. Tuite, a fashion and style historian.

3. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Influenced the 80s Fashion

Michael Jackson, ‘the King of Pop,’ popularized several fashion trends, including the iconic ‘Thriller’ 80s leather jacket with rolled-up sleeves.

The American musician also incorporated elements of military and futuristic styles in his flamboyant and theatrical costumes on and off stage.

“Michael Jackson’s influence on fashion in the 1980s was undeniable. His iconic ‘Thriller’ jacket and other flamboyant costumes helped to popularize a new type of fashion”

wrote the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi in ‘The New Yorker’¬†2015 edition.

4. Prince

Prince Influence on the 80s Fashion

Prince is hailed as one of the most flamboyant and theatrical musicians of the 80s decade who influenced 80s fashion for men in unimaginable ways.

Prince’s style comprised tight and brightly colored jumpsuits, leggings, and ruffled shirts, matched with androgynous high heels and oversized sunglasses,

Unique and eclectic, Prince’s fashion style was influenced by funk and R&B music.

The American singer is considered one of the most stylish men of his time, and his influence on fashion and music is still felt today.

“Prince’s influence on fashion in the 1980s was undeniable. His flamboyant and theatrical style helped to popularize the use of purple in men’s fashion”

wrote Michael Roberts in ‘The New Yorker’ (2015).

5. Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper Influence on the 80s Fashion

Cyndi Lauper was among the first celebrities to mix patterns, colors, and textures from various fashion styles into her outfits.

Lauper blended neon pink, purple, green, and yellow with vintage dresses, skirts, and ruffled blouses showcasing patterns like polka dots, stripes, and floral prints.

Cindy also popularized layered clothing, often wearing multiple tops or jackets at once and leg warmers paired with shorts, skirts, or leggings.

Fond of oof-beat accessories like mismatched earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, Lauper’s fashion style was considered a representation of the 80s pop and rock culture and an inspiration to girls and women of the time.

“Cyndi Lauper was one of the most influential fashion icons of the 1980s. Her colorful and eclectic style helped to popularize the use of bold patterns and bright colors in women’s fashion”

wrote Rebecca C. Tuite, in ‘Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style’ (2012).

6. Boy George

Boy George Influence on the 80s Fashion

Boy George is a British singer, songwriter, DJ, fashion designer, and the former lead singer of the 1980s pop band Culture Club.

Currently, an influential figure in the LGBTQ community, in the 80s, Boy George popularized the use of androgynous and gender-bending styles in men’s fashion.

George’s clothes in exotic prints accessorized with hats, large earrings, and bracelets and completed with heavy eyeliner and bright lipstick were inspired by the New Romantic movement, Rastafarianism, Indian, and Egyptian style.

“Boy George’s influence on fashion in the 1980s was undeniable, and his androgynous and gender-bending style helped to popularize a new type of fashion for men”

said Isaac Mizrahi.

7. Duran Duran

Duran Duran Influence on the 80s Fashion

Duran Duran is a British rock band formed in Birmingham in 1978 and hailed as one of the decade’s biggest bands influencing 80s fashion.

As a pioneer of the new romantic movement, Duran Duran had a sleek and stylish image that mixed elements of new-wave and post-punk fashion with bright colors like pink or purple.

The band members wore tight-fitting suits with oversized lapels, skinny ties, ruffled shirts, leather jackets with epaulets, gold braiding, and naval-inspired caps with sunglasses.

“Duran Duran was one of the most stylish bands of the 80s, known for their sharp suits and cutting-edge fashion sense.”

wrote Amber Butchart in the 2020 book ‘The Fashion of Film: How Cinema Has Inspired Fashion.’

8. David Bowie

David Bowie the 80s Fashion moments

David Bowie was a British singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer who passed away on January 10, 2016.

Widely regarded as an innovator in the music industry for his distinctive voice and musical style, Bowie’s fashion style during the 1980s was characterized by a mix of androgynous, futuristic, and theatrical looks.

Always experimenting and pushing stylistic boundaries, Bowie had an avant-garde sense of style, comprised of tailored suits in pastel shades, white shirts, and skinny ties in metallic fabrics.

He also wore tight-fitting, brightly colored jumpsuits, leggings, and tights nicely matched with bold eyeliner and lipstick.

“David Bowie was the ultimate style chameleon; he always seemed to be one step ahead of fashion trends, constantly reinventing himself and his look, from his early days as Ziggy Stardust to his 80s “Thin White Duke” persona.” – British Vogue, 2016

9. Jean-Paul Gaultier

Jean-Paul Gaultier impact on the 80s fashion

Jean-Paul Gaultier is a French fashion designer and couturier known for infusing avant-garde and fetish elements from religion, porn, streetwear, and punk culture into high fashion.

After launching his fashion label in 1976, Gaultier became one of the world’s most influential and celebrated fashion designers.

One of the most iconic looks popularized by Gaultier in the 80s was the ‘tattoo shirt,’ a t-shirt with a sailor-inspired tattoo graphic printed on the front and back.

Gaultier is also known for pushing the boundaries of gender and fashion norms, such as using corsets as outerwear.

But one of the most celebrated and recognized Gaultier creations was the ‘cone bra,’ a fashion accessory Madonna wore during her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour.

10. Christian Lacroix

Christian Lacroix impact on the 80s fashion

Another key influencer of the 80s fashion was the French designer Christian Lacroix.

Lacroix launched his fashion house in 1987 and quickly gained fame for his opulent designs inspired by crucial historical moments.

Also considered one of the leaders of the Haute Couture¬†movement of the 80s, Lacroix’s creations were popular with celebrities, socialites, and fashion enthusiasts.


In conclusion, the 80s fashion scene was defined by bold and iconic personalities who left an indelible mark on the industry.

From legendary designers like Lacroix and Jean-Paul Gaultier to pop culture icons like Madonna and Michael Jackson, these individuals shaped the decade with their unique style and influence.

The impact of the 80s can still be seen today in the fashion world, and it will always be remembered as a time of creativity, experimentation, and boundary-pushing.

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with the latest in fashion, beauty and style!

After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.

Academic, historian, university professor, feminist campaigner, and activist, Elizabeth Wilson has written extensively on the history of fashion and is considered an expert on the subject of 1980s fashion. Elizabeth's book "Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity" is considered an absolute classic in 'fashion and style.'

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