We are family: the cool clans inspiring this season's fashion

From Dynasty’s super-glam Carringtons to the geek chic of the Tenenbaums, meet the screen families influencing the high street

The Carringtons = 80s excess

Remember Dynasty, and greedy gold-digger Sammy Jo Carrington, played by Heather Locklear? Thirty years on, that 80s party brat look – a potent mix of entitled, uptown snobbishness and trashy, tantrummy, drink-hurling club-rat – is set to reign over the Christmas party season.

The signs were all over the catwalks. At Balmain ruffled one-shoulder dresses the colour and texture of Quality Street wrappers were cinched with wide belts. At Oscar de la Renta, the sweetheart-neckline strapless cocktail dress was back in business; and at Saint Laurent, bubblegum-pink tutus were worn with sheer black stockings. The look is headed to the high street at Topshop Unique, where the design studio’s new muse is “a posh 80s girl out on the tiles in Soho”.

Even in the ra-ra skirt and blue mascara-wearing mid-80s, Dynasty blew our tiny minds with its full-fat glamour. Those Carringtons didn’t do anything by halves. Women wore full makeup in the bath, and party dressing meant Lurex or metallic cocktail frocks, embellished with shimmer and shine. Shapes were tailored and sharp, with a laser focus on legs and waist. Built-in bustiers and bodices were standard issue in cocktail frocks, in those days before near-universal plastic surgery.

All this may seem a stretch from our dressed-down, flat-shod era – but the age of understatement is in decline. When you look closely, the Dynasty signatures are all around us already. Any pub in east London on a Friday night will boast a line-up of gaudy, outsize plasticky earrings to rival whiskey cocktails at the Carrington mansion.

  • Clothing credits (left to right): Lennie wears silk top, £170, and bottoms, £180, both ganni.com. Earrings. £7.99, hm.com. Osman wears suit, £85, asos.com. Rollneck, £26, asos.com. Matt wears tuxedo suit, £195, topman.com. Shirt, £24.99, hm.com. Pam wears sequin dress, £120, asos.com. Grace wears dress, £110, frenchconnection.com.
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‘Wednesday Addams was an It girl two decades ahead of her time’

The Addams = modern gothic

“I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour,” said Wednesday Addams. Attagirl. With her braids, her fierce monochrome palette and that modish name, Wednesday was an It girl two decades ahead of her time, boosted by her darkly glamorous relatives Morticia, Gomez and co.

There has long been a smattering of Addams DNA in the coolest kids on the catwalk. Last year, Brit design duo Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley made Wednesday the muse for Marc by Marc Jacobs, go-to label of hip New York youth. The new season Miu Miu ruffled blouses are Wednesday through and through, while the Saint Laurent girl, with her pale skin and slickly kohled eyes, contrast collars against prim short dresses, is surely what Wednesday would look like if she went shopping at Colette and then out clubbing in Paris. Morticia is very new season Alexander McQueen, in her filmy black lace and dreamy stare, while Kendall Jenner on the Giles catwalk last February, in black lipstick and ornate black ruff, was surely the prettiest take on Uncle Fester ever.

How to channel the Addams without looking like Halloween came early? Think cocktail hour, not witching hour. Take a tip from Anjelica Huston, and add a pop of red lips and nails to a dramatically noir gown. (Men can take a hint from Gomez, always so dapper in those double-breasted stripes.) Or follow Wednesday’s lead and make a dark ensemble youthful with a white collar. Oh, and never forget the Addams Family motto: “Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc” – we gladly feast on those who would subdue us. No doubt about it, these were the most fun goths ever.

  • Clothing credits (from left to right): Lennie wears lace dress, £195, whistles.co.uk. Lace blouse (worn underneath dress), £25.99, zara.com. Hat, £215, by Borsalino, from matchesfashion.com. Osman wears shirt, £25, and trousers, £25, both asos.com. Peacoat jacket, £85, topman.com. Flower pin, stylist’s own. Matt wears coat, £395, reiss.co.uk. Shirt, £240, by McQ Alexander McQueen, from matchesfashion.com. Pam wears ruffle shirt, £29.99, zara.com. Faux-fur jacket, £49.99, hm.com. Blazer, £245, reiss.co.uk. Ring, £116, maria-black.com. Grace wears jumper, £415, by Red Valentino, from net-a-porter.com. Dress, £120, frenchconnection.com.
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‘The key to Tenenbaum chic is to embrace melancholy. This is not a perky look’

The Tenenbaums = geek chic

Fashion has fallen hard for the geek girl gone bad, which means Margot Tenenbaum is everything. The magic is in the too-cool-for-school stare, the boarding-school-runaway wardrobe (preppy striped tennis dress, vintage fur, loafers) and the Iris Apfel-levels of individual quirkiness. The spirit of Margot and her kooky tribe was everywhere at the autumn/winter fashion weeks, nowhere more so than at Gucci.

The key to Tenenbaum chic is to embrace melancholy. This is not one of those perky, bright-smile seasons. Elements of the look include, but are not limited to: a seemingly randomised, yellowed-at-the-edges 70s palette, and a schoolgirl side parting offset by seen-it-all-before ennui. Chunky, preppy loafers – essential for that huffy teenage stomp – were a catwalk favourite, teamed with oversized coats at Max Mara. At Louis Vuitton, the first look on the catwalk was a fluffy, oversized fur worn with a dead-ringer-for-Margot boxy miniature suitcase. (Margot, like every true fashionista, also has a Hermès Birkin bag.)

But it’s not just about Margot. The whole Tenenbaum tribe – a bohemian Family of Geniuses, remember – are back in vogue. They represent nothing less than fashion’s new value system. Being decorative is so 2010; being minimalist is so 2014. Fashion is all about expressing your individuality. In their sweatbands and synthetic Adidas tracksuits, Ben Stiller and Luke Wilson dress with the colour and swagger of 80s tennis players – and you can’t beat an 80s tennis player for unpredictability and attitude.

Bling will get you nowhere – right now, the key accessory is a unique point of view.

  • Clothing credits (from left): Grace wears funnel-neck top, £14, and lace shirt, £50, both topshop.com. Pinafore dress, £49, urbanoutfitters.com. Bag, £125, stories.com. Osman wears cardigan, £295, joseph-fashion.com. Rollneck, £14.99, newlook.com. Glasses, from a selection, oliverpeoples.com. Pam wears sweater (over shoulders), £150, etrececile.com. Blouse, £325, by Mother of Pearl, from net-a-porter.com. Earrings, model’s own. Lennie wears jumper, £34.99, blouse, £59.99, and jeans, £59.99, all mango.com. Faux fur coat, £350, reiss.co.uk. Glasses, £350, lauraimami.com. Matt wears tracksuit top, £55, and track pants, £45, both by Adidas, from jdsports.co.uk. Rollneck, £25, topman.com.
  • Photographer’s assistant: Melinda Davies. Makeup and grooming: Lisa Stokes using Tom Ford Beauty and Elemis For Men, and Alexis Day using Tom Ford Beauty and L’Occitane skincare. Hair: Shukeel Murtaza at Untitled Artists using Bumble and bumble. Models: Osman at Broadcasting, Pam at Ugly, Matt at Next, Lennie at D1 and Grace at M+P Models.

Contributors

Jess Cartner-Morley; styling: Melanie Wilkinson, images: David Newby

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