The ’80s continue to revel and raise hell within the collective conscious—and in turn, amp up the wattage in beauty. On the couture runways, the decade manifested distinctly, from Viktor and Rolf’s punkish cat-eyes and teased zig-zagged lengths to RVDK’s array of archetypal ’80s looks including the abstract, David Bowie-inspired eye designs across Spanish beauty Andrea Gutiérrez Arcas’s gaze. But while designers continue to offer plenty by way of big hair and vivid makeup, for those who can’t get enough, the ’80s had no shortage of cult films worth screening for inspiration.
A good reminder of this is BAM’s new series, Punks, Poets, and Valley Girls: Women Filmmakers in 1980s America, which spotlights a wave of blockbusters and indies that brought a much-needed female nuance to their storytelling. There’s Susan Seidelman’s Smithereens (1982), following a perpetually red-lipped wannabe New Waver played by Susan Berman from New York to L.A., as well as Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), starring Madonna as a brassy vagabond with a proclivity for teasing combs and oversized bows. And for peak material(girl)ism, there’s Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl, starring Deborah Foreman as Julia Richman with glossy blonde hair and rouged cheeks opposite Nicolas Cage as Randy with his haphazardly coiffed, Manic Panic-streaked hair. For a more pared-back, bohemian interpretation of the beauty of the time, there’s Kathleen Collins’ groundbreaking, semi-autobiographical Losing Ground (1982), in which Seret Scott plays a breezy philosophy professor that prefers an unadorned look, save for topping off her natural curls with a delicate fuchsia flower.
Beyond BAM’s carefully curated selection of films, there’s more…more…more where that came from—it was the ’80s, after all. On the more fantastical side of the spectrum, there’s Bowie as Jareth, a goblin with sharp brows, chromatic lids, and a feathered mullet, in Labyrinth (1986), as well as Daryl Hannah, making a radical case for platinum helmet-hair and mask-like smoky eyes. And veering more gilded and glamorous, there’s Jennifer Beal’s wash of iridescent glitter in Flashdance (1983), Apollonia Kotero’s indigo eyeshadow and draped blush in Purple Rain (1984), and Imani Izzi’s towering updo secured with a cascade of gold rings in Coming to America (1988). Here, a spate of ’80s-era films to add to your watchlist.