Jersey stamps: Popular Culture, the 1980s

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Jersey continue their nostalgic Popular Culture series with six stamps the explore different aspects of the 1980s, namely language, music, fashion, events, food and drink, and leisure.

A bold, bright, energetic decade, the 1980s brought a colour clash of fun fluorescents and pretty pastels following the drab earthy tones of the 1970s. Often remembered as a decade of materialism and consumerism, the 1980s was a time for flamboyant fashions. Big shoulder pads, chunky jewellery and neon leg warmers became wardrobe staples, whilst a big perm, was the ‘must have’ hairstyle.

In Jersey, the 1980s are seen as the final decade of the Island’s post-war tourism boom, as air-fares to destinations abroad became less expensive. Jersey’s finance sector continued to grow and the workforce migrated from farm work and tourism towards jobs within the finance industry. 

The stamps are each illustrated by a different artist, with graphic designer Luke Lucas showcasing the language of the decade, when words such as ‘rad’, a shortening of the word radical, became popular. 

American illustrator Craig Drake reminds us of the ‘new romantics’ that took over Top of the Pops in the ‘80s with their ostentatious, outlandish fashion, that somehow managed to combine glam rock, punk and the early Romantic period of the 18th and 19th centuries. The stamp is reminiscent of the illustrations of Patrick Nagel, whose iconic artwork adorned the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio LP.

The fashion of the 1980s is captured by watercolourist and illustrator Caroline Smith. Shoulder pads redefined the fashionable female silhouette for the decade and were part of a new fashion trend known as power dressing. This fashion was most notably seen on the glamorous American TV series Dynasty; shoulder pads were even worn by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Coming back to music, airbrush artist Syd Brak, looks back to 13 July 1985 and the Live Aid event which took place at both Wembley Stadium and John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia. The event, organised by music artists Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for the ongoing Ethiopian famine, boasted the world’s most popular musicians and is estimated to have been seen by nearly 40% of the world’s population.

Designer Jimi Crayon gives us a taste of the sweet, mixed, novelty cocktails which were ubiquitous in the 1980s; and Yoko Honda, brings us the ‘boom-box’ stereo, synonymous with the hip-hop music genre, and key to the prominence of cassette-culture prevalent throughout the decade. A portable music player for sharing and mixing music, the boombox generally had one or two cassette tape players and was popularly used for recreational dance and rapping. Although a mainstay in popular culture of today, in the 1980s these were new and radical art forms.

In addition to the six stamps a miniature sheet shows ‘Street life’ and is again illustrated by Yoko Honda. The sheet reimagines Jersey’s main shopping area as it would have been in the 1980s, reflecting the vibrancy, fashion and colours synonymous with the decade.

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