UNDERSTANDING THE ’90S REVIVAL
BY HUSH HUSH BIZ REPORTER words and photos by SAMANTHA MILNE
The ’90s revival fashion style began trending in early 2012, and is continuing strong into 2013. Spring 2013 saw a lot of ’90s-esque sheer, plaid, and metallic fabrics, sporty styles, oversized silhouettes, straight skirts, and cropped tops: DKNY, Balmain, and Diesel (New York Fashion Week), and Dries Van Noten (Paris Fashion Week) being particularly notable. Wildfox Couture’s Spring 2013 look book channelled the ’90s cult hit Clueless; and popular higher end chain stores such as Asos, Topshop, and Urban Outfitters continue to aim for a grungier, more alternative aesthetic.
Described below are the ’90s trends most influential to the ongoing homage popular culture and popular alternative culture is paying to the era of grunge and anti-fashion. Their icons and traits have been categorised, unravelled, and dissected for you to weave into your own style at your will.
1. Tragically Glamorous: Heroin Chic
Textiles play a major role in this look. Draw your inspiration from extravagant Hollywood glamour in this respect: flowers, feather boas, sheer mesh, silk, and fur (vintage or faux please). A delicate balance between classic and outrageous must be struck in order to accomplish this dreamy, drunk, drugged diva demeanour without coming across as desperate and tacky.
Hair and make-up styles are generally one of two extremes. Either bare and effortless, unique, youthful, natural beauty – like Kate Moss in her early shoots for Calvin Klein; or classic glamour – lips painted red and thick, spidery lashes – think Courtney Love and Drew Barrymore.
Kate Moss in her ’90s prime is the epitome (and unintentional founder) of heroin chic. Her svelte, skinny frame, wide-set eyes, and high cheekbones give her an ethereal, other-worldly appearance; she is cheeky and effortless, subtly androgynous, and oddly addictive to look at. On warmer evenings she’s seen draped in silky, slim-fitting, spaghetti-strap gowns: one block colour, sometimes sheer or with a metallic sheen. She doesn’t mind if you see her nipples poking through the thin material, she doesn’t even mind if they slip out every once in a while. When it’s cold, she’s wrapped in giant fur coats, and sheer black tights, or skinny jeans. Plaid, leather, and leopard print are common features in casual wear. Her style is quite minimalistic; but quality materials, bold colours, signature styles, and big names make it luxurious; and the way she seems to slip them on without a care makes it super cool.
Courtney Love’s style is similar, equally grungy and carefree, though hers has more of a ‘prom queen’ vibe. She even sports a tiara occasionally. She’ll showcase her nipples occasionally. Many of her dresses give the impression of being lucky finds in the bridal section of a charity store: satiny, lacy, beaded, and ultra-feminine. Other times she looks like an unruly schoolgirl: knee-high socks, peter pan collars, cardigans, blouses, smock dresses, and Mary Janes. Dark roots peek through messy hair, bleached a pale golden blonde; and her lips are scarlet
2. Preppy and Pampered: Daddy’s Little Princess
Think Ralph Lauren, think Tommy Hilfiger, but with a sassy, streetwise edge. As though you were the gorgeous, pampered child of a pro-golfer billionaire and an ex-model with an expensive coke habit. Spoiled, sophisticated, and adorably rebellious. The most iconic purveyor of this look is Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher in the 1995 film Clueless.
Cher’s hair and make-up is always clean and fresh, classically styled in soft, natural tones: a subtle but glamorous exaggeration of natural beauty. Mini dresses and miniskirts (with coordinating jackets) are wardrobe staples, teamed with knee-high or thigh-high socks for a preppy, schoolgirl feel. Plaid tweed is a must, in all colours. Garments tend to be straight-cut, short, and structured; professional yet playful, colour coordinated ensembles that emphasise and lengthen the legs. Argyle vests, and blazers reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy are ideal additions on cooler days. Mary Janes are the casual shoes of choice.
3. Trendy Teen: Pop-Grunge Superstar
Part pop, part grunge, quirky, colourful, and loud: trend-setting teen idols. The popularity of aerobics and the rise of hip-hop in the ’80s has left neon colours, iridescent fabrics, and sports gear in style. Tops are cropped, hairstyles are wild, and shoes are chunky. The Spice Girls and Gwen Stefani are pioneering this look.
Although each of The Spice Girls has her own individual style, they all emanate a similar fun, flirty, trendy vibe. Cropped tops (spaghetti strap tanks, halters, and high-necked tees), miniskirts, and mini dresses are signature staples; though Sporty often wears tracksuit pants. They love platform shoes, Baby being particularly fond of Buffalos. Blue eye shadow is regular thing and make-up is worn quite heavily: lined eyes, coloured lips, indiscrete bronzer contouring. Hair is big, especially Scary’s; and Baby’s is often in high, schoolgirl twin tails.
Gwen Stefani’s style is more rockstar than popstar for now; similar to The Spice Girls’, but quirkier and less polished. She usually wears dark red lipstick, lines her eyes and brows, and coats her lashes. Sometimes she wears eye shadow, often white. Bindis and stick-on facial jewels become a signature accessory. Her hair is constantly changing – both colour and style – right through from classic to crazy. Sporty, cropped tops with baggy pants and boots or sneakers is the basic outfit combination she’s favouring.