Viva La 1990s!

From cone bras at Jean-Paul Gaultier to Doc Martens and crop-tops on Lindsay Lohan and Agyness Deyn, grunge-era fashion is back. VIEW OUR GALLERY of '90s revival.

David Tonnessen / Pacific Coast News,David Tonnessen,

David Tonnessen / Pacific Coast News


Grunge, which grew out of Seattle area in the early 1990s with bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, soon caught on with mainstream fashion. Vogue featured "Grunge and Glory," a memorable editorial shot by Steven Meisel in December 1992, which Naomi Campbell and Kristen McMenamy in threadbare flannels, skull caps and combat boots. Also in '92, Marc Jacobs bust onto the scene with a blockbuster collection for Perry Ellis that included flannels, Doc Martens and thermal shirts. He was nicknamed the "Guru of Grunge" by Women's Wear Daily and won the CFDA award for Womenswear Designer of the Year. James Truman, the editor of Details, told the New York Times in 1992: "To me the thing about grunge is it's not anti-fashion, it's un fashion. Punk was anti-fashion. It made a statement. Grunge is about not making a statement, which is why it's crazy for it to become a fashion statement." And crazier, still, that it would comeback today on cool kids such as Peaches Geldof (and an unidentified pink-haired friend) recently in Los Angeles, and with Elle Style Director Kate Lanphear.

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Safety Pins

In 1994, Elizabeth Hurley brought the grunge aesthetic to high fashion with a black Versace dress with a neck that dipped lower than the Dow. The key to her success, of course, were massive gold safety pins—a version of which Paris Hilton recently wore. And now, the fashion house's Versus collection is staying true to its roots: the line's designer, Christopher Kane, debuted a collection of black dresses held together by colorful safety pins, one of which Chloë Sevigny sported recently in St. Louis.

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Shaved Heads

A shaved head became a symbol for female empowerment in the 1990s, beginning with Sinead O'Connor in 1990. In 1993, Sigourney Weaver boldly went bald to play Ellen Ripley in Alien 3, and in 1997, Demi Moore toughened up the bald head as a Navy SEAL in G.I. Jane. But no woman made a shaved head look quite as cool as Robin Tunney did in Empire Records in 1995. And now, in 2010, bald is back: fashion-forward girls like British model Alice Dellal, Agyness Deyn and Ciara are buzzing their heads.

PA Photos / Landov

Double Denim

As any American girl who came of age in the late eighties and nineties will tell you, denim served one purpose—to be a canvas for really cool marker drawings. The all-denim, all-the-time trend, which stretched interminably through several years, came to a screeching halt with one major cultural moment: when Britney Spears (in a patchwork denim strapless gown and bejeweled denim handbag) and Justin Timberlake (in a denim suit and two-toned denim cowboy hat) walked the red carpet at the 2001 American Music Awards as if nothing was wrong. It's taken a long time for us to build up our collective courage and wear denim on denim again, but Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof are blazing the way, wearing four denim pieces between them during London Fashion Week in February.

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If you've saved your Phish t-shirts, you're in luck: tied-dye is back with a bang this summer—and the brighter the colors, the better. Proenza Schouler is leading the pack with a series of punchy looks in neon blue and green, but unlike the baggy rocker tee, they come in the form of tailored mini-dresses and racer-bank tanks. The collection has been featured on the pages of Vogue. Designers Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez even gave Martha Stewart a tie-dye lesson on her show on April 6.

Richard Drew / AP Photo


Overalls are back back, and there's only one person to blame: Jesse James. This year, he launched a clothing line at Wal-mart, which featured Men's Denim Bib Overalls (complete with a zipper fly), which retail for $30. The Appalachian lounge suit also found its way onto the pages of Vogue in February—and Ralph Lauren debuted a pair in his Spring 2010 collection. Explained the designer in his program notes: "I am inspired by the character of the worker, the farmer, the cowboy, the pioneer women of the prairies living authentically through challenging times."

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Cone Bras

With an item as iconic as the cone bra, we are faced with a choice: let it sheepishly retire to sex shops, or revive it, and wear it with our heads held high. This spring, designers chose the latter. The pyramid bra, which Jean-Paul Gaultier designed for Madonna's 1990 Blond Ambition tour, has returned. Gaultier freshened up the classic bra for his Spring/ Summer 2010 collection—and Dolce & Gabbana also sent a stream of cone-bosomed models down their runway. The Daily Mail even encouraged women to wear pyramid bras under their sweaters. (The modern cone bra contains things like "a three-piece outer cup" and a "powermesh wing.") Helen Spencer, the head buyer of lingerie at British retailer John Lewis, rationalized the pointy-nipple trend: "Throughout the last century, the trend for feminine pointy-shaped bras experienced a renaissance following times of a toughened economy, making a return of unabashed femininity as women seek to have more fun with fashion as a form of escapism."

Dan Steinberg / AP Photo

Pink and Purple Hair

There's a shade of pink hair for every decade: Kurt Cobain dyed his hair pink to host Saturday Night Live in January 1992, Pink went for bright bubble gum in the early aughties, and Rachel McAdams streaked her hair cotton-candy for no apparent reason in 2007. But now, a jaundiced, grey lavender is in hot demand. The color has been seen on Lady Gaga, Kelly Osbourne—and on Proenza Schouler's spring runway and Chanel's spring couture.

Luca Bruno / AP Photo

Socks and Sandals

Years from now, when historians search for the meaning of socks and sandals, they will find one source: the Birkenstock. The strapped sandal rose to popularity it in the early 90s, and, because it was more important for toes to be warm than to adhere to any common decency, socks and sandals reigned supreme throughout the decade. But then the Teva came along, and gave socks and sandals a bad name. No one thought they would ever come back, and yet they were all over the spring runways (like Marni and Dior) and adorned the feet of everyone from fashionistas on the streets of Paris to men in downtown Tokyo.

Denise Truscello / WireImage


The last time mesh was this sexy was when it appeared in Right Said Fred's 1991 music video "I'm Too Sexy"—tucked, for better or worse, into pleated dress pants. But The Hills' Kristen Cavallari felt that mesh needed no pants, and bravely wore the crop-top over a bikini to host an event last weekend at the Liquid Pool in Las Vegas' City Center.

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High-Cut Suits

While pantslessness is as old as the hills, the high-cut Baywatch crotch defined bathing suit styles between 1989 and 1999. But this year, Lady Gaga and Rihanna have reintroduced the need for a really good bikini wax with body suits, leopard spandex underwear, and various other contraptions cut up-to-there. Pair it with fishnets, thigh-high boots, a studded vest and pink hair, you have the spitting image of grunge chic—or Lady Gaga on a casual day out.

Ben Dome / Nathanael Jones / Pacific Coast News; Fame Pictures


Few things were as iconic in the 1990s as the flannel shirt: sometimes tattered, sometimes baggy, but always open. Whether on the back of Kurt Cobain or Uncle Jesse, the flannel has stayed a lasting cultural symbol—trickling down, even, to the lovely Miley Cyrus, who paired the shirt with tattered denim and combat boots, and Agyness Deyn, who wore recently tied a flannel around her hips.

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Crop Tops

If Salt n' Pepa wore them, then so can you! Crop tops—whether striped spandex, with mullets or with fringe—were very necessary in the 90s. And as the millennium dawned, a young gaggle of pop stars inherited the crop-top mantle: Christina Aguilera rolled around in the sand in a beaded one in "Genie in a Bottle," and Britney Spears bared her belly in a rolled-up school shirt for "Baby One More Time." A decade later, and the crop-top is back: Lindsay Lohan sported a tattered version at Coachella, while Jennifer Lopez recently wore a crop-top skirt suit to promote The Backup Plan.

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Marni made a comfortable pony-skin pair that were all the rage in the late nineties—and revised them for their Spring/Summer 2010 collection. And this year, too, Karl Lagerfeld debuted white platform clog on his runway. Little did he know, the inspiration for them could be traced right back to the 1990s (and before then, the Seventies, and before then, sixteenth-century Holland.) Alexa Chung wore a pair on the March cover of British Vogue—and since then, stars like Chloe Sevigny and Mary-Kate Olsen have been clomping around town in a pair.



The scrunchie was patented by a woman named Rommy Revson in 1994 under the name "scunci," and she claimed credit for both the "decorative fashion accessory for hair," but also method of using it—which she described as "twisting the elastic band into a generally figure-eight configuration." People eventually figured it out, and soon the accessory secured every bun and topsy-tail in America. Then, in Season 6 of Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw nagged her boyfriend, Jack Berger, for writing a scrunchie into his novel—and argued that a fashionable woman would never wear one. But now, they are: Catherine Zeta Jones recently wore one around L.A., as have the Olsens and Sienna Miller.

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Body Con Dress

In the 90s, they were known tube tops, tube skirts, and tube dresses (and had, if you were lucky, built-in bras.) Girl group En Vogue wore the body-hugging dresses throughout their meteoric rise in the early 1990s —and then, with Posh's LBDs and Ginger Spice's Union Jack body con—the Spice Girls took the baton and ran into tight-dress history. But when it comes to philosophy of the skin-tight dress, Clueless character Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) said it best: "Sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex."