Welcome back to the 90s


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Steven Meisel, Moni Belle, Sofie B
24 Saturday 24th September 2011

If there's one thing we've learned from street style blogging, it's that dumb head-dresses will often get you papped. But more importantly, we've picked up on the revival of the set of looks we wish had never left: 90s fashion. Now before you try to run away screaming, with your hands clasped shut over your eyes, hear us out. A lot of you reading this will, like me, have only been a kid during that great decade of mish-mash style and somewhat confusing trends; it could feel like a case of 'too soon'. And anyone who lived through the 90s with more world-weary eyes may agree.
But I think we're ready. I think we're ready for the creepers, weirdly slouchy denim shirts, second-hand flannel (only: none of that new plaid allowed please) and dungarees with one leg rolled up. To put our own twist on the endless 'remember Nirvana' pieces flooding the music press of late we give you these: the very best of 1990s togs, revived. 
Sofie, of the Milk Club blog in her 90s-inspired Demonia creepers
First off, what would the 90s have been without that awkward goth in your class? The one everyone thought they hated til they watched The Craft and realised that maybe she was just hot and misunderstood. Or something like that. In any case, we've noticed a rise in this nod to the nonchalant look that Daria exemplified with her sullen indifference and Natalie Portman perfected as Mathilda in Léon. Brands like BOY London have become an integral part of the modern interpretation of this look, with black on black as a main feature accentuated by crucifix accessories.
New hipsters doing the 90s thing, shot by Moni Belle
It's all about round-rimmed sunglasses, the ubiquitous crop top and black creepers. If you've found yourself out in Dalston at any point recently you've probably already seen an art student doing this with ripped Levi's cut-offs over black jogging shorts and an oversized grimy black denim jacket. If the high street scouts are anything to go by though, this is becoming a thing and will soon probably trickle down into Primarks all over the country.
The grunge look in Vogue then, and re-interpreted by Alice Dellal now
Where the goth look bleeds into grunge revival becomes harder to trace, the more immersed you get into the resurgence of 1990s style. The torn jean shorts go full length, and the black jacket takes on the checkered print of the signature flannel shirt. Note: this has nothing to do with the black, red and white pseudo-plaid of Bench shirts from 2009.
This is the sort of heavy, slightly musty material that always hangs loose, is usually in the bottom of a reject pile in a charity shop and instantly conjures up images of Kurt Cobain circa 1991. In fact, the real death knell for grunge as an underground movement or even a term with any meaning was sounded when Vogue ran this piece with Naomi Campbell and Kristen Mcmenamy decked out in flannel maxi skirts and a Nirvana band tee (see above). 
The modern version, and Tupac in the original look
While grunge exploded from Seattle outwards, another genre was impacting upon 90s style: American hip hop. Beyond the Adidas-striped tracksuits and trainers endorsed by the likes of Run DMC, good old over-sized dungarees became a pretty big deal. Coupled with crop tops and bra tops for girls, and guys being generally shirtless in photo shoots, few things can sum up 90s style more than this look. Well, this look plus a bandana: that was also a pivotal accessory for the decade. Tommy Hilfiger's photo capmaigns featuring R'n'B stars like Destiny's Child, Aaliyah and Usher pioneered this half baggy, half tight look and pushed it into the mainstream. When English acts like All Saints came along and co-opted the style, it became a part of high street fashion too.
It ran parallel with the love of prints that often got its biggest publicity on prime time television shows. When watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-air now, you'd be hard pressed to find an episode without at least one brilliantly garish printed shirt, blouse or jacket. One particular episode featured patchwork dungarees (with one loop unhooked, of course) worn over a billowing Aztec-print shirt with combat boots. Will Smith will probably never top that look. Brands like Agi & Sam are now pushing that print clash into the forefront of modern style.
Similarly, the ditsy print mini dresses and textured velvet statement pieces of the 1990s have already been championed by autumn/winter high street collections for the last year or so. American Apparel, love it or hate it, revived those Beverly Hills 90210 body-con dresses at high street prices once designers like Mark Fast and Hervé Léger had dipped their inspiration brushes back into the 90s. 
Calvin Klein 1998 (L), resurrected in Céline 2010 (R)
Finally, that crisp 90s minimalism of Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester has been resurrected. Most famously, Phoebe Philo at Céline is seen as responsible for this return to the sharp and simple tailoring of high fashion in the early 90s. It's been boosted by street style blogs featuring women basically just in white tees, good jeans and a clean-cut boot, over and over again. It seems the 90s had a little something for everyone and now we all want a piece again.
Or do we? Which 90s trends, if any, would you be happy to don again? And which do you think should have stayed in the decade? Let us know.

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