As Miley Cyrus rocks out in the third season of "Hannah Montana," she channels Madonna circa 1985.
And, somehow, on this cute and playful 15-year-old, tiered miniskirts, leopard prints and fingerless gloves look good — so get ready for masses of mini-Montanas to emulate the look of the tween favorite, even if they are too young to know its true origin.
The look was created mostly for Cyrus' on-stage persona Hannah to wear, says costume designer Dalhia Foroutan, but hints of the ’80s have crept into most of the cast's wardrobe.
The teenage stars are too young to remember ripped-neck sweatshirts or legwarmers the first time around, but they do recognize it as retro and think it's cool, she says.
Foroutan also works with Cyrus on her concert wardrobe and has also slipped in some intentional flashbacks from Madonna's "Lucky Star" and "Like a Virgin" days.
"I didn't like her (Madonna) so much in the ’80s, but looking back, she was so new and different and she really influenced fashion in the ’80s. I respect her for that," Foroutan says.
One of Madonna's great fashion legacies is that today's teens have adopted her well-crafted careless look.
"It's girlie, rocker, thrift shop. It says 'I don't care' but it took an hour to pile on and rip those fishnets. To anyone who knows anything about getting dressed, you knew it took a long time to put together, Foroutan says.
Cyrus says she's loving the style because there's a lot of room to put her own stamp on it — and if Cyrus wears it, so will countless others. (In the third quarter, "Hannah Montana" was the highest rated TV show for kids 6-11 and No. 2 for tweens 9-14, according to Nielsen Media Research provided by Disney Channel.)
"I can mix and match a cute shirt with some skinny jeans under a leather jacket and it looks fun and unique," Cyrus writes in an e-mail to the AP. "That's why I love the signature leather gloves that are a part of the new Hannah look. I like to put my own style into what I wear mixed with something from the past."
It's probably not a coincidence that the ’80s are back considering it's the mothers of millennials who wore highlighter-color lace when they were coming of age.
The icons of the day include Olivia Newton John in her "Physical" gear, Molly Ringwald and "Flashdance's" Jennifer Beals.
Teen Vogue has shot a lot of outfits with this vibe already for spring, says fashion director Gloria Baume, and the magazine believes in it as a trend going forward. The runway shows of Marc by Marc Jacobs, DKNY and London's Christopher Kane furthered the return to the era of excess.
"I think the ’80s were so maligned because it was a time of ostentatiousness, a time when everything was done to the top," Baume observes. "It was the first time for big gold chains and Rolexes, so much glitz and glamour. It represented what we think is bad taste today, while the '60s seemed more natural, spiritual. It was the ’80s that led to the so minimal ’90s."
Teens can learn from this to have fun with fashion and use it to express themselves.
But Baume also thinks this generation is simply more style savvy than those that came before it. "The ’80s look is safe with these girls. They know too much to have the bad taste that we had ... these girls just don't have the bad taste in their DNA."