Taking the turn into the 90s, the dawn of the Riot Grrrl movement took grip of the underground and Alanis Morissette released “You Oughta Know“.
But when the Spice Girls (1994-2000) arrived, girl power really became a THING. Spice Girls sold Cadbury’s chocolate, Pepsi, Barbies, Polaroid and Walkers Crisps. With their marketing PR, they took girl power global (with their leopard print trousers and high pony tails) Whatever the end goal, the message was absorbed by young women with a feverish urgency. Finally we had our girlband – girl gang of famous women that looked like us, and had the world in their hands.
Each of them was different, and they were strong, stronger together. Spice girls: Melanie Brown (“Scary Spice“), Melanie Chisholm (“Sporty Spice“), Emma Bunton (“Baby Spice“), Geri Halliwell (“Ginger Spice“), and Victoria Beckham (“Posh Spice“). Although each one represented different, individual style, they were a group recognised as 90’s style/vibe.
Trends they have produced are countless. 90s are mostly created by their diamond chokers, baggy print pants, latex skirts, slogan crop tops, colourful tinted sunglasses, high pony tails, lipgloss, denim jackets, mini dresses and platform boots. Colour palette was dominated by red and yellow (colours of 90s). Iconic 90s’ look is most likely created by blocks of colours, prints, slogans, easy-to-find-and-wear sporty pieces and original accessories.
Being part of the third wave of feminism, Spice Girls were recognised as a strong group of friends who support each other. This advantage was a solid ground for “babes” of today. After almost 30 years, 90s are coming back strongly, making a big statement. Girly feminists are all about 90s. Being sexy, brave and open, not being “asking for it”. It is a specific statement of girls inspired by pop culture. Music and style of icons like Spice Girls, Britney Spears or Beyonce are huge sources of inspiration for babes.
Moving images were always a part of culture, creating our lives and style. Movies are very important source of knowledge about the style of the 90s. It is quite obvious that we try to recreate outfits from our favourite films. When we dig a little deeper, it’s also easy to realise that the style of whole generations are driven by iconic movies of their times.
James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) vs “street-style” photograph (1958)
Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) vs Brigitte Bardot (IT girl of the 60s)
“Clueless” by Amy Heckering (1995)
One of the most iconic image of the 90s. Its primary target audience (young female teenagers) welcomed the movie with open arms, making it a fast best-seller. Story of Cher Horowitz, the most popular girl in her class at Bronson Alcott High School, and her friends, solving “life problems” of teenagers is a lightweight imagery for everybody. At the same time, main character is a fashion icon. She is modern (outfit-creating wardrobe) and shopping is her and her girlfriends’ ultimate problem solution. It’s easy to say that Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in this movie, shown as “the most popular girl”, knowing all the latest trends, is a fashion icon that every girl would want to follow.
Costume designer of the movie, Mona May, and the director, Amy Heckering, visited schools in Los Angeles to get a sense of high school students’ fashion. They discovered nothing more than flannel and baggy pants – there was not really any girliness to find. There was a place to start and define something new. Over-the-knee socks, colourful home-made hats, checkered skirts and matching jackets, summer dresses and “double” tops (short sleeve underneath a top on straps) became an iconic look of the 90s’ girls.
At the same time, we can clearly call Cher a “feminist”. She didn’t really have any interest in guys of her age, she was wearing whatever she wanted to, finally she was focused on happiness of hers and her girlfriends (“girl gang”).
“Jawbreaker” by Darren Stein (1999)
A black comedy about a group of “popular” high school girls, where accidentally, one of them is murdered by the rest. Despite the controversial plot, it is definitely a style inspiration of the 90s. Bold blocks of colours, crop tops, big rounded sunglasses, hair pins, whoops and mini skirts. Image easily connected with this decade.
“Pulp Fiction” by Quentin Tarrantino (1994)
The iconic movie wardrobe worn by Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) in Pulp Fiction. From her crisp white button-down shirt to her blunt bangs, high heels, little black dress, red lipstick and sleek bob with a fringe (and cigarette!), Uma Thurman’s movie style was the new femme-fatale look of the decade, that went down in history as one of the most sensual and iconic images of the last decade of 20th century. Strong character with simple but very polished and considered look.
Girl Heroes: The New Force In Popular Culture is a 2002 text by Susan Hopkins. It is a cultural analysis of the contemporary archetype of the girl hero in popular culture.
Hopkins argues for a link between the 1990s British band Spice Girls, their vision of girl power, and the creation of a new kind of “girl hero”. Hopkins also explores the roles of figures such as supermodels, magical girls, Britney Spears, Lara Croft, the Charlie’s Angels (the 2000s version), Sabrina Spellman, and Mulan.
She also draws comparisons between these images and earlier ones, such as Emma Peel of The Avengers, the 1970s television show Wonder Woman, Madonna and the Charlie’s Angels TV show of the 1970s, pointing out the relative independence of this archetype from male and parental support.
Catwalks are inseparable part of fashion culture, as they show directly what drives designer’s vision of new trends for next seasons. The greatest names of fashion world create inspired by art, music and history. In 90s, high fashion was often inspired by subcultures, especially when it was with young and diverse society.
Crop tops and waist belts, hair accessories and bold make up.
Sparkling dress and over-the-knee boots
Simple but sensual top on tiny straps, no-bra look, high-waisted pants
Colourful and youthful style, high waist and plain, simple bikini
Iconic sunglasses, extra elegant white dress and gloves, gun – reference to Pulp Fiction
Delicate and subtle summer dress with contrasting shoes and socks.
Strong “Bay Watch” reference, one-piece swimsuit, exposing waist and collarbones.
Designers, musicians, stylists and photographers, movie directors, Instagram accounts, music videos, IT girls – they are all inspired by 90s, as it is fresh and cheerful, but also brings back the spirit of original “girl power”. This decade is a perfect mirror for #goodvibesonly hashtag and movement, where young people want to have fun and enjoy their company.
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