Arcadia were the pop group formed in 1985 by Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran, during a break in that band's schedule. However, Roger Taylor appeared in only a few band photographs and in none of the music videos, and stated he was only to be involved in the recording side of the project (he also had minor involvement in The Power Station, the other Duran Duran splinter group). The name of the band was reportedly inspired by the Nicolas Poussin painting Et in Arcadia ego (also known as "The Arcadian Shepherds").
The group recorded just one album, the platinum-selling So Red the Rose. It peaked at Number 30 in the UK and Number 23 in the US, and featured the UK/US top 10 single "Election Day," as well as "The Flame," "The Promise," and "Goodbye Is Forever". Simon Le Bon described So Red the Rose as "the most pretentious album ever made", while Allmusic called it "the best album Duran Duran never made". Musicians who contributed to the album included guitarists David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Carlos Alomar, pianist Herbie Hancock, Sting (who provided backing vocals on "The Promise"), Grace Jones (who provided the brief but dramatic spoken-word interlude on "Election Day"), bass player Mark Egan of the Pat Metheny Group (whose very distinctive fretless sound can be recognised in "The Promise", "El Diablo" and "Lady Ice") and David Van Tieghem, a percussionist from New York.
The band also realised music videos directed by Roger Christian, Marcelo Anciano, Russell Mulcahy and Dean Chamberlain, and recorded the single "Say the Word" for the Playing for Keeps movie soundtrack.
EMI re-released the album as a three disc box set April 12, 2010 in the UK and April 20, 2010 in the US. This remastered collected all permutations and remixes of tracks released by the band. The third disc comprised the video collection on DVD, but it does not include the video for "Say the Word". The remastered reissue of the album charted for a week in UK at #186 in October 2010.
Arcadia continued the Duran Duran tradition of a slick image, tasteful fashions and hair-dos. For the Arcadia incarnation of their ever-changing band aesthetic, Le Bon, Rhodes, and Roger Taylor donned an upmarket 'gothic' look of black tuxedos, vintage formal wear, and bow ties. The three also dyed their hair black, as seen when they performed (as Duran Duran, with Andy and John Taylor) at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Philadelphia. Although by the time the video for their single "The Flame" was made in early 1986, Nick Rhodes had changed his hair colour to golden blond and Simon Le Bon returned to his regular highlighted hair style —this subsequent change of hairstyle anticipated the promotion of the forthcoming Duran Duran album, Notorious, released later that same year.
The group did a variety of promotional appearances on television, but never toured, and dissolved a year later in 1986 when Duran Duran re-formed with Le Bon, Rhodes, and bassist John Taylor to record their next album Notorious. During the tour to support Notorious, Duran Duran played the Arcadia single "Election Day" as well as "Some Like it Hot" from the Power Station record. Drummer Roger Taylor retired from the music business for 15 years after the release of the Arcadia album, but returned to rejoin the original Duran Duran line-up in 2001.