The 90′s are like, so popular right now.
When people talk about the 90s-mid 2000s, it’s generally about things like club kids, nostalgic toys and cartoons that come to mind, but for me, rather, it’s more about the fashion. I’m not talking Spice Girls or those little butterfly clips and chokers we wore, I’m talking Helmut Lang, Guinevere Van Seenus, and Corinne Day. 1990-2004 may seem like a strange period to elaborate on, but I chose 1990 because in my opinion, that’s when the runway and editorials started to take a much different turn from the conservative, highly commercial nature of the past and 2004, well, things started to really drift after early 2004.
In this 14 year span, it seemed that everyone’s view on fashion, in general, was much different. Everything appeared so much more.. candid. A touch of voyeurism, unbalanced angles, even the way they photographed celebrities was different. Glamour wasn’t what glamour is today- it was shown with something more untouchable, yet insistently human at the same time.
The 80′s were such a high contrast in the way things were presented, and what the public, I guess, was responding to, but that all started to deconstruct as soon as 89′ turned to 90′. Minimalism was on a new rise, color was essentially out, and thus was born the addiction to that oh so famously highlighted “Heroin Chic”.
Of course, things don’t just disappear overnight. You can still see hints of the decade before in certain editorials, but runway and “sexy” was speeding in a new direction- raw, just out of bed, and as slinky as possible (not club girl slinky- thin straps, sheer fabrics, and easy silhouettes- less is more). It wasn’t about trying to be alluring, you just were.
On on end, you’ve got extreme minimalism, and on the other end, you’ve got Galliano and Mugler. Photographers were proving to the public that fashion and life in general could be appreciated in a whole new way, including showing celebrities in new light- cue “They’re just like us!”
One of my favorite things about photography/fashion from this period is that different perspective on beauty- and what it means. Sure, Christy Turlington, Bridget Hall, and Patricia Hartmann are drop dead gorgeous, but rather than photographing them in an elitist, untouchable way, the images above prove that tearing it down to basics can be even more inspiring and beautiful.
The reign of Kate Moss. Of course, she was everyone’s favorite and in our current day, she’s almost grossly iconic (think about how much you cringe when you see another photo of Marilyn Monroe with a quote on tumblr), but without question, she was the epitome of the decade. Something else that was really prolific to me about this time in fashion was that models were more free to make weird faces, get in weird contortionist positions, or straight up face plant and it’ll be more alluring, because of that concept I spoke about before- break it down to it’s basics and it evokes something much more powerful from a person than another photo of a pretty girl in pretty clothes doing nothing.
The perspective that the people involved in the fashion industry had on everything was so influential and altering to public opinion. Take voyeurism for example: In the first real introduction of the idea that people are spying on us all the time, the photoshoot with Kate Moss by Nick Knight really put it on display. They played with the idea that someone was stalking her every move and the illusion of being shot through a security camera. Later on, this still goes in to play for future editorials and even advertisements (Dolce and Gabbana, 2003). The idea of seeing someone so natural and in their own habitat, like watching tv in their shitty apartment or even grocery shopping (see later images), was so appealing and almost felt, wrong.. which deep down, everyone likes.
1996 really shows a rise in the minimal, slinky clothing that I talked about before. Miu Miu’s Spring Summer 96′ collection shows barely there fabrics and tops paired with sheer tights (as seen on Milla Jovovich- so strange to think of her as an actual model back then, because our generation is lucky to even know her from The Fifth Element). Hussien Chalayan, Margiela, and Ann Demeulemeester are all very much in the same realm as far as grouping of designers go, and each respectively changed the game in how minimalism was perceived. It’s not about the ‘wow factor’ in the ways of Mugler, for example, but it was about specific cuts, fabrics, and drapery that really made it stand out.
I love this shot of Rose McGowen- it’s so simple and beautiful and you would never see something like that for a celebrity portrait today. Also, that photo of Guinevere Van Seenus, who’s my favorite model, to be honest..)- it’s so stunning for a beauty shot, because again, it’s that different perspective but still has something so ‘wow!’ about it. However “pretty” these images are, there was still the rise of “ugly”. Strange looking models were sought after, like Kristen McMenamy (Lily- taking it to the next level this year though), and the stranger they looked in photographs- the better.
1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 are my favorite years for Prada. It’s so unlike what we know it as today, which is actually the same thing I’ll say about the girl of 1998- Gisele Bundchen. We all know her now as one of the most famous Victoria’s Secret models, but she’s one of my favorite late 90s/early 00′s models (second to Guinevere, of course). The way her features and good looks were played up in the VS way are so vastly different from even the ‘glamorous’ look she was given for Versace’s Fall Winter 98′ show. Okay, now back to Prada. In terms of how we see Prada now, it’s as much of a shock as seeing Louis Vuitton in a minimalist, undone, and ‘out there’ way. Prada’s 98′ campaign with Angela Lindvall goes down in my books as one of the best; they’re images that I will always be inspired by- not because they’re particularly ground breaking on a new level, but ground breaking in the sense that all it needed were photos of her hunching over in a satin red bra and underwear or looking like an almost purge is about to happen. Miuccia wasn’t afraid to go there, and I like it.
1999 was not only the last year of the decade (duh), but it was the most influential year of the late 90s, in my opinion. It was split in terms of direction; one side was still on the break down of what fashion “is”, like the editorial ‘Give Me Space’ by Nick Night and showing that beauty lies in simplicity and the images evoke something great inside us. On the other hand, fashion was pushing limits in a way never seen before with Alexander McQueen and Givenchy’s Fall Winter 99′ cyborg-esque collection. The 90s really represent a time of revolution as well, not in the way that the 60′s and 70′s did, but with a more underground approach through fashion- it was about rebellion of what society wanted them to create and a serious 180 from the 80s.
Y2K- the year the world was supposed to end from mass computer failure. Also, an introduction to high contrast in editorials started to present itself. Continuing with the break down of beauty, as I’m now calling it, photographers were beginning to shoot “models off duty” and casting photos, which nowadays, is a pretty prevalent part of the fashion industry/tumblr (you know what I mean).
‘Concept’ was/is everything, but the way it was presented in the early 2000′s was with a little more importance than it appeared in the early 90s. Fashion was moving back toward the idea of fantasy rather than reality, but still managing to maintain the underground allure the earlier years presented.
The first image, of Natalia Vodianova for W Magazine, is so impressionable, in my opinion. I’m never one to go for the “girly”, but this image actually stuns me. I can’t really describe it, but somehow it perfectly embodies this year. Imagery was more ‘clear’, I guess, in these years, but that one somehow really retains what I loved about the early 90s. Also, she was a shining star in the early 00′s.
The idea of rebelling and making a point was still there, but more of “this is a scrapbook page from my diary” type of way, if that makes sense at all. Like the image above of Helmut Lang in L’uomo, I love how stripped down it is, yet it says so much without being forceful. Collections were still going in the same two directions- less is more or bedazzle that shit.
In 2004, things started to really move into a different direction. While fashion obviously grows and evolves, for over a decade, there was a mindset and a different view of beauty, but towards the end of 2004/ beginning of 2005, it was moving swiftly into a new era-
People are always inspired by the past- it’s how we build upon and take things one step further in the future- but, there’s something so significant to me about the stripped down, rawness of the fashion industry in this time period. Forever inspiring.