ODE TO THE 90’S: A CELEBRATION OF MINIMALIST CHIC
Look anywhere in fashion today and you will see the 90’s inflection everywhere.
From dad sneakers, to belt bags, combat boots (we are looking at you Bottega Venetta!) to slick minimalist chic slip dresses – the 90’s are a source of continual inspiration.
For years, the fashion world has been pulling inspiration and riding the waves from prior decades which resurface in cyclical manners every 10 to 20 years. From monochrome palettes, slick minimalism to angst ridden grunge, the 90’s style and cultural tropes have become THE hot topic among millennials seeking nostalgia for an era they did not live in.
Yet for those of us lucky to have been there and done that, this 90’s revivalism is a re-loop to an era where everything seemed cooler. A purity of design. Grit before commercialization. A healthy dose of grunge ridden angst.
Androgynous fashion. Monochromatic dressing. Minimalist chic.
These were all the fashion iconography that defined the 90’s and simultaneously defied the industry’s standard of beauty. Gone were the big bosomed, toothy, blue eyed, blonde haired 80’s Glamazons that had stomped catwalks, monopolizing magazine covers. In their place was a new army of waif like nymphs, led by THE inimitable Kate Moss with her snaggle tooth grin and unnerving childlike Lolita innocence. Along came Amber Valetta, the 90’s answer to Twiggy, Shalom Harlow and her other worldly beauty. There was Stella Tennant and her blue-blood aristocracy, androgyny and septum ring walking for Chanel, followed by Jenny Shimizu and her counter-culture tattoos, short hair and confrontational gaze. A new breed of androgynous creatures in androgynous, unisex fashion.
These boyish girls with their painfully thin countenance, stringy hair, hollowed cheeks, deadpan expressions extended conventional ideas of beauty and gave rise to a tribe of quirk that was a stark change to the excess of the decade before.
Seeing them slink around in minimalist outfits was like ripping off the band aid from the 80’s. Farewell ruffles, may you rest in peace. In its wake was a monochromatic way of dressing, favoring a restricted palette of black and white. Maybe grey if you were feeling frivolous.
If the waifs and their unique brand of “heroin chic” were the alternative beauties of the 90’s, then Helmut Lang was the honorary god-father of androgynous fashion and minimalist chic.
Subversive. Sexy. Simple. Cerebral. Counter-cultural.
Yes, you felt haughty in Helmet.
The minimalist clothing procured by Austrian born Helmet Lang, with its razor cut tailoring, sleek, clean lines and expertly constructed deconstruction provided its wearer with an air of elevated, intellectual cool.
Shrouding oneself in monochromatic dressing suggested ease and elegance, but also a disdain for gaudy embellishment and giddy color. Welcome to “Gang Lang” where everyone vied to belong to the androgynous, uni-sex, monochromatic outfitted tribe of understated cool.
The discord was clear. NO, YOU CANNOT SIT WITH US.
And boy, did we want a seat at that table!
That appeal clearly still resonates today. If not for the same emotional reasons of belonging to a particular set of the self-marginalized few, then for the practicality that a minimalist wardrobe provides.
As stated by minimalist chic advocate Mariella Agapiou, founder and writer of the Monochrome.style blog –
“I personally have a very distinct sartorial uniform: a muted, monochromatic color palette and minimalist mindset. Leaning towards black and white colorways makes sense to me in terms of sustainability. Investing in good quality items in similar colors ensures that my wardrobe is more interchangeable. Opting for high quality craftsmanship of things in black or white means I won’t get bored of them or feel the need to replace them if the color no longer feels appropriate or fresh.”
Whether stemming from a deep-rooted, romanticized nostalgia for an era that was seemingly inherently cooler (Gen Xers can vouch that it was), the 90’s style tropes represent a cultural energy and story that is still prescient for today’s generation in the form of “modern vintage”. How they interpret it and make it theirs is the beauty of fashion history.
HERE ARE OUR TOP 3 ICONIC 90’S LOOKS
1. THE WAIF INGENUE
Made iconic by Kate Moss, the slip dress is a core staple to the 90’s repertoire.
Just as relevant for today, mix it up with a tailored blazer and heels for a night out.
Or opt for anti-sex “dad sneakers” and a flannel shirt tied around the waist for a grungier 2020 twist on a 90’s classic.
SHOP THE LOOK:
2. GIRL GONE GRUNGE
The slightly gritty off duty model look.
Essentials include a well- worn leather jacket,
motorcycle boots, maybe some plaid here and there.
And a healthy dose of attitude & eyeliner.
SHOP THE LOOK:
3. THE SLICK MINIMALIST
No nonsense, a little bit Germanic and tailored to a T.
Go for clean lines, a black and white or monochrome color head to toe. Add grey if you are feeling adventurous
A purist approach that has become prevalent for 2020 as we all strip away from all that is unnecessary and focus again on the crisp essentials.
SHOP THE LOOK: