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Eurovision fashion through the decades

05 August 2020 at 16:40 CEST
ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden. Unknown
Let's face it, iconic Eurovision hits are as much about the music as they are about the performance, and central to it is the performer's outfit of choice. Inside the world of Eurovision, as it has outside, stage-ready fashion choices have evolved over the years. Let's look back on the trends and iconic looks from the last 65 years.

You name it, the Eurovision stage has shown it. From formal black dresses in the 1950's to fashion technology in 2018, and everything in between.

Check out the gallery below for an extensive throwback to the iconic fashion looks from the past 65 years:

The 1950's: The first years of Eurovision

The first Eurovision Song Contest artists took the stage in 1956, leaving only a handful of years for 1950s fashion to make its mark on the stage. The first winner of the Contest, Lys Assia, secured her win in a dark, formal dress, fitting for the time. Soon after though, Eurovision fashion took flight!

The first winner of the Contest, Lys Assia, secured her win in a dark, formal dress, fitting for the time. EBU

The 1960s: Formal fashion and a touch of rebellion

The 1960s were a decade where sophisticated designs inspired by the 50s continued, and suits and dresses were most of what was seen on the Eurovision stage. 1961 winner Jean-Claude Pascal, from Luxembourg, showcased a sharp look while performing his entry, Nous Les Amoureux.

At the same time, though, the undercurrent of a younger generation was surfacing, leading artists to step away from some of the formality. You could see this in the mini-dress choice seen on Lulu, the British winner in 1969, and, taking it one step further, a mini-dress accessorised by bare feet as seen on Sandie Shaw as she performed Puppet on a String in 1967.

United Kingdom wins the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna with Sandie Shaw EBU, Rolls Press, Popperfoto, Getty Images

The 1970s: An age of colour pop

The turning of the decade brought a revolution on many fronts naturally reflected in the artistic expressions seen on the Eurovision stage. The once-undercurrent took centre stage as the fashion styles began to pop. We're talking flared pants, jumpsuits and platform shoes - they all came in colour!

From Björn Ulvaeus' boots to Agnetha Fältskogs bell bottoms, there is no denying that ABBA took this look to the limit in 1974. With frilled collars and cuffs, diamond embellishments, velvet suits and chunky platform heels to round out the look, the performance of Waterloo had it all.

Belgium's 1973 entry epitomised the decade's fashion with Nicole & Hugo literally lighting up the stage with their sequin-striped bell bottom pants and dazzling us with their bouncy hair.

In 1979 we saw Dschinghis Khan deliver an outrageous style, performing his disco classic for Germany.

ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden in 1974.

The 1980s: Patterns, padded shoulders and penguins

By this decade, convention was abandoned and fashion creations were interesting, to say the least.

The early 80's commenced with the use of more subdued colours like browns and tans - reminiscent of the decade before. However, block colours were also everywhere and the United Kingdom's Bucks Fizz were the perfect example of this when they stepped out in their bold, primary-coloured block ensembles, softly permed hair and on-stage change.

And then, of course, there was the triangular tuxedo penguin suit worn in Sophie and Magaly's entry for Luxembourg in 1980. Lest we forget.

The mid 80s, perhaps influenced by popular musicians at the time like Cyndi Lauper, saw an entirely new style that many associate the 1980s with to this day. We're talking big hair, spandex, lace shirts, ripped jeans, leg warmers, neon colours, side ponytails, cut-off sweatshirts - and mullets.

Sandra Kim was the epitome of the mid 80's style. The Belgian really took shoulder pads to new heights (pun intended) alongside her shag hairdo when she performed in 1986. Such big style statements continued into the later stages of the decade which saw La Década from Spain in 1988 explode on to the stage with their puffy skirts, patterned tops, long sleeved gloves and - you guessed it - heavily-padded shoulders.

Belgium's Sandra Kim was the epitome of the mid 80's style. EBU

The 1990s: Coordinates

While the 1980s were all about volume, the style in the early 1990s was decidedly low maintenance. Slip dresses, biker shorts, logo tees, and high-waisted and baggy jeans were on display and hair was either gathered up by scrunchies or left to flounce. Dark lip liner was also a thing. So too was simple, spaghetti strap dresses as seen in 1994 Edyta Górniak performance of To Nie Ja! for Poland

By 1996, the boy/girl band scene was in full swing. The United Kingdom's Gina G gave some serious Spice Girl vibes with her gold-sequinned mini dress supported by her back-up dancers who wore short, sporty coordinated sorbet coloured dresses and hair slicked back in a ponytail.

And we would be remiss not to mention one of the most iconic 90s Eurovision fashion choices: Barbara Dex... to whom fans dedicated an award for worst clothed artist.

The 2000s: A decade unclad

This was the decade that saw celebrities' growing influence on trends and the rise of fast fashion which saw a lot of trends come and go. Black tones and shiny metallics were a commonly occurring colour palette too. You couldn't get any shinier or more metallic than Wig Wam's silver rocker (with white feather boa) for Norway in 2005, the punk-rocker styled silver jacket in The Ark's performance for Sweden in 2007 (also with black feather boa) or the extraordinary pants on Alex Swings Oscar Sings! for Germany in 2009.

The 00's were also just a melting pot of random styles, including mesh tops, box-pleated or leather skirts, leather jackets, statement dress shirts, chunky shoes, sparkly shoes, crop tops, hoodies, cargo pants, capri pants, tracksuits, boho, cropped jackets, jean skirts, dresses over jeans - in fact, denim everything. This decade showed off a lot more skin than seen in previous decades such as the costumes in Sertab Erana's entry for Turkey in 2003 or Ruslana's outfit for Ukraine in 2004.

Speaking of such eclectic fashion, Latvia's 2008 artists dressed as pirates and the Czech Republic's 2009 performer took it to another level. represented the Czech Republic in 2009 with the song 'Aven Romale' EBU

The 2010s: Futurism & Technology

We kicked off the most recent decade with a throwback to shoulder pads of the 80s when in 2011, Ireland's Jedward took a futuristic spin on the iconic look.

From there, futurism emerged as a theme through the use of technology to amplify the fashion of the 2010s. Projection costumes were the star of the decade with Azerbaijan's 2012 entry utilising this technology and Moldova's 2013 performance capitalising even more by implementing a rising dress.

Technological advances and the willingness to use them accelerated by 2016 which saw Croatia's Nina Kraljić wear a dress designed by Juraj Zigman which lit up and needed to be carried so Nina could walk.

Fashion technology escalated again by 2018 when Estonia's projection dress worn by Elina Nechayeva covered the entire floor.

Eesti Laul 2018 winner Elina Nechajeva wore a gigantic projection dress in Lisbon EBU / Andres Putting

Eurovision fashion has clearly changed over the years. Who knows which trends we will see on the Eurovision stage in the coming years? Only time will tell. Can't get enough of Eurovision fashion through the decades? Check out the video below with even more iconic looks.

What do you think will be remembered as the stand-out trends of 2010-2019? Let us know in the comments below!