By Annabel Schofield

By Annabel Schofield

Fashion, Style & Club Life: 1991

Marc Jacobs Grunge fashions

By 1991, two radically different musical genres had overtaken youth culture; from Seattle came the explosion of the stripped-down, guitar-driven rock sound spearheaded by the bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam known as Grunge; and at the other end of the spectrum from the UK there emerged the technologically-based dance phenomenon known as Acid House. 

Both musical styles were defiantly anti-fashion, but Grunge in particular had its own defining look which rapidly inspired and informed mainstream fashion.

The absolute antithesis to the clean-cut yuppie power dressing and brightly coloured highly-styled clothes of the 80's, Grunge fashion was a messy swamp of plaid, flannel, browns, greens and indigos. Fitted was out and sloppy was in. In 1990s women's fashion, the Grunge trend saw the exit of short spunky hair styles and tight perms and the entrance of too-long-to-be-true, straggled straight or wavy hair. Tight jeans were out and loose ripped and dirty jeans were in.

Grunge for guys on the catwalk

At its height, Grunge was in many ways a rejection of the capitalist excesses of the 1980s, but the style was quickly picked up by designers and turned into a well-known fashion trend.

Linda Evangelista

By the mid-1990s the grunge style had gone mainstream in Britain and the US, resulting in a decline in bright colors from 1995 until the late 2000's, and which was dominated by tartan flannel shirts, stonewashed blue jeans, and dark colors like maroon, forest green, indigo, brown, white and black.

Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day

Heroin Chic was a look popularized in 1990s fashion and characterized by pale skindark circles beneath the eyes and angular bone structure. The look, characterised by emaciated features and androgyny, was a reaction against the "healthy" and vibrant look of models such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer. A 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times stated that the fashion industry had "a nihilistic vision of beauty" that was reflective of drug addiction and U.S. News and World Report called the movement a "cynical trend".

The Girls on Versace's catwalk

 Fashion icon Kate Moss was the poster child for Heroin Chic, and she along with a select group of London stylists, models and photographers such as Corinne Day, David Sims and Kate's then boyfriend, Mario Sorrenti embodied this radical visual departure from the glamazon Super Model look as it had been popularized by The Girls: Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Tatiana Patitz and Christy Turlington. 

To experience The Girls at their glorious peak, please see the iconic video for George Michael's 'Freedom 90' as featured in this week's Mixtape.

Acid House: although less significant from a fashion perspective; from a socio-economic standpoint acid house music and culture were utterly revolutionary in the UK. 

London club Shoom was opened in November '87 by DJ Danny Rampling and his wife, Jenny. The club was extremely exclusive and featured thick fog, a dreamy atmosphere and acid house music.  This period began what some call the Second Summer of Love, a movement credited with a reduction in football hooliganism: instead of fighting, football fans were listening to music, taking ecstasy and joining other club attendees in a peaceful movement that has been compared to the Summer of Love in San Francisco in 1967.
Another club called Trip was opened in June 1988 by DJ Nicky Holloway at the Astoria in London's West End.  It was known for its intensity and stayed open until 3 AM. The patrons would spill into the streets chanting and drew the police on regular occasions. The reputation that occurrences like this created along with the UK's strong anti-club laws started to make it increasingly difficult to offer events in the conventional club atmosphere.

In London during the late 80s, after-hours clubbing was against the law. However, this did not stop club-goers from continuing to dance. Police would raid the after-hours parties, so the groups began to assemble inside warehouses and other inconspicuous venues in secret, hence also marking the first developments of the Rave. 
Raves were well attended at this time and consisted of single events or a moving series of parties thrown by production companies or unlicensed clubs. Two well-known groups at this point were Sunrise, who held particularly massive outdoor events, and Revolution in Progress, known for events which were usually thrown in warehouses or at Clink Street, a South East London nightclub housed in a former jail. 

Once the term acid house became more widely used, participants at acid house-themed events in the UK and Ibiza made the psychedelic drug connotations a reality by using club drugs such as ecstasy and LSD. The association of acid house, MDMA, and smiley faces was observed in New York City by late 1988. This coincided with an increasing level of scrutiny and sensationalism in the mainstream press, although conflicting accounts about the degree of connection between acid house music and drugs continued to surface. 

More Influential Faces and Fashion Images from 1991
Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise
Kurt Cobain
Johnny Depp & Winona Ryder in Vogue

Kate Moss' first Vogue cover
Madonna's "Truth or Dare" tour, in Gaultier
Designer John Galliano for The Gap
Chris Isaak by Herb Ritts (see Wicked Game video on Mixtape)
Super model Tatiana Patitz in Vogue
Kate Moss by Corinne Day
L'Oreal Ad: Italian Vogue
Blur's Damon Albarn
Tyra Banks in Italian Vogue
Liam Howlett of The Prodigy
Kate Moss by Corinne Day
Designer Marc Jacobs
Future first lady of France: super model Carla Bruni
Design by John Galliano pre Dior
Linda Evangelista 
Design by Jean Paul Gaultier
Oasis' Liam Gallagher
Model Helena Christensen by Paolo Roversi
It couple INXS's Michael Hutchence & Helena Christensen
Madonna & Jean Paul Gaultier
Model Kristen McNenamy

Design by Moschino

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