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Published on May 12th, 2011 | by Éilish Burke


Eurovision Eurofashion

It’s upon us. The TV extravaganza that’s camper than Louis Spence’s knicker drawer, tackier than Katie Price’s wedding chariot and about as harmonic as a dyspraxic orchestra playing Morton Feldman. Yes, it’s Eurovision time.

Truly Eurovision is a wonderful event. Providing us with a much needed dose of hilarity in the otherwise dull month of May, it also serves as a handy reminder that there’s more to Europe than the louche French, organised Germans and get-your-coat-you’ve-pulled Italians. There’s also the Swiss, the Maltese and a plethora of post-Soviet Balkan states with a penchant for early ’90s trance and white leather crotchless pants. If ever there were a reason to forgive Europe for forcing us into a generation of indentured economic slavery then participation in this glorious cultural smorgasbord is it.

Not to be outdone, good old Erin is putting forward our best exemplars of homegrown musical “entertainment” – Jedward. With a song written by two Danes and a Brit the hyperactive Brothers Grimes will carry the hopes of our simple nation on their shoulders tonight.

But the question I’m most interested in, is what exactly will John and Edward be wearing? For you see, in the Eurovision, costume is key. Who doesn’t share my heady memories of Johnny Logan’s victory in that white suit? Or the jolt of surprise as Bucks Fizz whipped off half their dresses during their performance of ‘Making Your Mind Up’ to reveal shorter skirts below? And surely last years victory by Lena was in no small part down to her understated choice of a black knee-length dress, nodding her head to straightened fiscal times on the banks of the Rhine? Let us all pray that Jedward have put enough thought and diamantes into their outfit choice so that they might follow in the bejewelled footsteps of these other past Euro fashion glories:

HRH King of Eurovision, Johnny Logan

White's his colour. Logan's winning looks from 1980 and 1987

In fairness, we’ve got to lead off with Ireland’s own Johnny Logan – the man who took white suits out of the Holy Communion shop and into the mainstream. But don’t let the virginal colour fool you girls. Johnny was a right stud back in the day and sent the female European population a-flutter with his crooning and occasional fist pumps of glory. Still big in Turkey.

Olivia Newton John

A black skin-tight Sandy bodysuit would have been preferable

ONJ doesn’t just have the starring role of Sandy in Grease and the awesomeness of ‘Let’s Get Physical’ to her credit, she also appeared as the UK Eurovision entrant in 1974. In this hideous aquamarine number which by all accounts was inspired by the toilet roll covers that adorned cisterns across the globe.


And this is a look we call 'Space Disco'

It’s sometimes hard to remember what came first, the trend for cropped satin high-waisted bell-bottoms, or ABBA. Whatever, the poptastic Swedish foursome won over the hearts of several million Europeans and fashion buyers with their gypsy-meets-space-transexual-on-acid stylings. And the world was never the same again.

Verka Serduchka

Eurosavers entire stock of silver paint went into the making of these outfits

You may not remember this Ukranian drag queen entrant from 2007. Perhaps you were too busy pinning your hopes (or your ears closed) for our own Irish entrant of that year, the ‘wonderful’ Dervish. Or you may have tried to suppress the memory of the tin-foil, disco-ball, silver stage explosion that was Verka and her dancers. Too bad ‘cos one look at the picture above and it’ll all come flooding back. Hah!

Bucks Fizz

Proving that everyone loves a bit of a striptease, Bucks Fizz wowed audiences in 1981 in sports casual. The classic boy girl boy girl combo is less ABBA more Butlins but nevertheless they stole European hearts in primary colours.

Dana International

'I may not be a lady, but I'm all woman'

No stereotyping or anything, but the LGBT community just love the Eurovision. And in 1998 when Dana International was victorious, it seemed fitting that the winner was a post-op transgender Israeli. The outfit however was less drag queen and more diva, which is appropriate I guess, given the winning song title. And when you’ve got killer curves to show off. Maybe it’s just me but I totally think she could have rocked a 3 foot head-dress with this.

HRH Queen of Derry and Handmaiden of Jesus, Dana

Dana's trip went bad when the massive ball bearings started coming for her

From one Dana to another, albeit a less gender confused one. We think…. It seems fitting to book-end this post with another of our Eurovision heroes and the first person to bring the title home to the emerald isle. Dana’s style here was simple, much like her song. Much like the Irish people in fact; a simple nation who have gone through 800 years of oppression and come out the other side still smiling and singing about the love of snowdrops and butterflies (Give us plenty of grant aid please!). The gap-toothed one pulled it off gallantly. Her dress is Irish-dancing-costume-meets 60s-inspired-minidress hitting just the right balance of Celticism (check out the Book of Kells inspired embroidery!) and coquettish sex appeal (the addition of the hairgrip adds the final touch). It almost makes you forgive her for the subsequent years of right wing Christian politicking.

In conclusion and for your visual and aural pleasure (and if a week of Eurovision hasn’t been enough) feast your eyes on the videos below. A compilation of winners from  1956 to 2010. Celine’s ’80s perm was only gorgeous….


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About the Author

Éilish writes the Ad Nauseam series of posts for Culch.ie as well as some other bit and bobs. She used to work in adland and still likes to dissect the advertising she comes across, though these days mainly from the comfort of her couch and in the form of angry tirades while her flatmate rolls her eyes to heaven. She secretly harbours smug feelings that instead of saving and putting a deposit on a house she spent all her life savings on extravagant holidays and has therefore escaped a lifetime in negative equity. She co-runs a company called Amp Music Marketing. You can get in touch with her at eilishburke{at}gmail{dot}com or follow her on Twitter.

2 Responses to Eurovision Eurofashion

  1. Eoin D says:

    “the hyperactive Brothers Grimes will carry the hopes of our simple nation on their shoulders tonight” looks like the hyperactive brother on the left will carry the nations hopes in his wonder bra tonight! LOL!

  2. Bngr says:

    Eurovision ftw.

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