A WAVE OF NEON
By Katja Schmolka
The dazzlingly bright colors don’t just electrify the eye, but are also phenomena of one of the most provocative fashion eras ever—the 1980s. Neon is a statement, a style statement and a provocation even today.
In the Sixties, Andy Warhol was the first artist to discover neon pink and yellow, in his classic Pop Art portrait of Marilyn Monroe. And in 1990 designer Robin Piccone sent his Body Glove models down the runway in eye-popping Neoprene swimsuits.
This eccentric new element was discovered in 1898 by Sir William Ramsey in London. How could it be otherwise! London, the mecca for exuberant experimentation in fashion and art. Ramsey was a chemist, who after various attempts discovered the inert gas by accident. It’s most significantly represented by neon tubing, better known as the neon lamp. Photographers and artier directors discovered it as a means of setting a scene in photographs and films. In the futuristic blockbuster Bladerunner by Ridley Scott, these neon-lit worlds shimmer through space and time like a mist of expressive color, conveying a sense that’s both futuristic and otherworldly.
Neon colors have cast a spell over the world of fashion as well. International fashion designers such as Giorgio Armani, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Marni skillfully weave a neon element into their collections, whether it’s as a single-color accessory such as signature purses and pumps or as accents and borders at the hems of skirts.