The new romantic bands appeared at the end of the 1970s and would only be in evidence from 1979 until 1981. It was definitely a reaction to the punk scene especially in the fashion that was associated with the music. The artists would dress flamboyantly. They would be as glamorous as glam rockers, yet the style was vastly different. The New Romantics would be super cool wearing narrow lapelled leather jackets, collarless dress shirts and pointed shoes. Like glam rockers people would wear make-up but with the new romantics it concentrated on dark eye liner. It was a dream for fashion designers and Vivienne Westwood turned her attentions away from the punk scene and created the “pirate look” for Adam and the Ants.
They vigorously denied being a new romantic band but were followed by a lot of new romantics. The new romantics were very much a trendy creation and the brief time that the scene was popular would confirm that the genre was rather lightweight compared to many others.In fact, it was popular for bands to claim that they were not new romantics. Soft Cell, Japan and Ultravox all made it clear that if there were any similarities with their bands and new romantics it was purely coincidental. There were others however, who had no problems being associated with this genre. The biggest influence was Steve Strange who performed in Visage. In the late 1970s he owned Billy’s and the Blitz, and they would regularly have Roxy Music and David Bowie Nights. They would encourage people to dress in costume and would regularly stop people from entering who they felt were not dressed appropriately.
The fashion soon caught on and bands like Duran Duran soon appeared. Duran Duran’s use of synthesizes typified the music, and they were tailor made to be successful as they complimented their musical ability with natural good looks and an eye for fashion. They managed to produce 14 singles that reached the UKs top 40. They were famous for their glamorously shot videos, and the band was always associated with the beautiful girlfriends of the members. Some groups would shy away from being labelled as being “image conscious” but this was not the case with Duran Duran who simply embraced it. They managed to produce 14 singles that reached the UKs top 40. They were famous for their glamorously shot videos, and the band was always associated with the beautiful girlfriends of the members. Some groups would shy away from being labelled as being “image conscious” but this was not the case with Duran Duran who simply embraced it.
Equally popular with their music were Spandau Ballet. The London group were formed in 1979 and they produced five top 10 singles including their big no 1 hit “True”. They weren’t quite as glamorous as Duran Duran yet still the members Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadlee, John Keeble and Steve Norman still managed to portray a smart image. The most clearly identifiable star of this era was Boy George who fronted Culture Club. Hid dress sense was totally unique but many of his and his group’s followers were from the new romantics. The band sold many records and did so much for people’s perceptions of gender stereotypes. The era of new romantic music was incredibly brief, and there are no doubts that it was as much to do with fashion as it was to do with the music. However, it terms of the records it produced it did leave a major impression on the music scene.