by Giulia Cassano
Identikit of the original dress:
Coat bought at the usual flea market at the Bonola Shopping Centre in Milan. Size 42, colour pink. It is approximately a 1990s shoulder pad dress with comfortable cut.
For the photo shoot I decide to match it to a burgundy velvet mini dress edged with black lace (which was originally a 1990s lady dress with shoulder pads and flared skirt).
The NineteenÂ Nineties
1990s fashion is minimal compared to 1980s fashion. The outfits in the nineties create a high-contrast look by matching oversized clothes to tight-fitting ones: very short shorts paired with plus-size cropped sweaters,Â Â or mini dresses paired with loose fitting jackets or oversized blouses. Many successful TV series of this decade reflect the fashion trends in those years, as in the case of Beverly Hills 90210 , the American drama series which followed the lives of a group of teenagers and addressed numerous topical issues such asÂ Â drug abuse, sexuality and homosexuality. The nineties also see the emergence and success of rock bands such as Guns’n Roses, Aerosmith and many others. These musicians become trendsetters, influencing fashion through their own personal style: as a matter of fact black leather clothing, bandannas and long hair draw inspiration from this world. Just think of the distinguishing and expensive music video by Guns’n Roses performing November Rain, in which lead singer Axl Rose gets married in a disconcerting atmosphere: the bride’s tragic end is a foregone conclusion. In Crazy by Aerosmith, Alicia Silverstone and a very young Liv Tyler play two defiant teenagers, representative of the typical adolescent behaviour of the period, who hitchhike aimlessly around the country, hang out with motorcyclists committing petty theft and adopt a style which is popular among 1990s youths: tight leather trousers and tiny tops, very short mini-dresses paired with combat boots and sneakers.
Kurt Cobain,Â lead singerÂ of grunge bandÂ Nirvana, is another important representative of 1990s rock music and together with his partner Courtney Love he popularizes the grunge look, which combines clothing from different styles in order to create a contrived “shabby” style. Grunge is quickly picked up by designer Marc Jacobs who introduces this style on the catwalk with his 1992 prÃªt-Ã -porter collection.
The “career woman” is no longer in vogue, now women wantÂ to look and feelÂ sexyÂ and feminine. As a matter of facts the most famous female models hit the big time in the nineties, transforming into the hot supermodels: Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Kate Moss – the so called “Big Six”- become popular worldwide.
Among them Kate Moss, skinny and cursed, is the one that best embodies these years with her body type and troubled private life. The term Heroin Chic perfectly describes the nihilistic vision of beauty of that period, there is a fascination for the sense of unease triggered by drug consumption, and this trend is examined in some 1990s famous movies such as Trainspotting, which tells the story of a crowd of young heroin addicts. Artists deal with these issues, too. An example is American photographer Nan Goldin, whose work is most often presented in the form of a slideshow: in her photographs she portrays the life of people sufferingÂ with HIV/AIDS, after having overcome her drug problem.Â A wide range of films (even art-house films) reflect the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period, the so called “black films”, among others: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles , Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Addiction and “The Crow” , whose lead actor, Brandon Lee, was accidentally killed on the set during filming. Worth mentioning is also the TV series Twin Peaks by David Lynch, with its original screenplay: despite its unsettling tone and supernatural features, it portrays a sliceÂ of 1990s AmericanÂ life. Even though the atmosphere is gloomy, the fashion system discovers fine and feminine fabrics: lace, silk and velvet fabrics decorate the thin female body. Sexy women’s underwear become popular and is used as a sexy dress up piece. Thanks to this trend the well-known Italian lingerie brand “La Perla”, founded in 1954, experiences a strong growth in these years. Wearing over-the-knee socks with slip dresses becomes another fashion trend typical of the 1990s.
Everybody wears sneakers everywhere and for every occasion, younger women match them to child-like knee socks edged with lace: how can one forget the popular Superga canvas sneaker, in different colours and in total white!
Velvet, lace, flannel, stretch fabrics become extremely popular fabrics in the 1990s, bold vibrant colorsÂ and starkÂ contrastsÂ are what we see in fabrics and clothing, or even sober natural colours like beige, sand, black and burgundy.
Alterations:Â Â “Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century”
I turn the oversized coat into a long flared waistcoat:
– I take in the garment at the hips
– I cut the hem and sleeves, leaving a raw cut edge
– I embellish the upper part with some lace, hand-stitching it asymmetrically
– I replace the original buttons with some plainer black ones
To complete the outfit I pair the waistcoat with a dress I had previously altered, that is the burgundy velvet mini dress, having edged it with black lace
Model: Maddalena Cotta Ramusino
Jewel made by Giulia Cassano
Shoes See by Chloe
Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century by Uta Grosenick, Taschen, 2001
History of Fashion and CostumesÂ by Vincenza Maugeri & Angela Paffumi (Original title: Storia della Moda e del Costume). Publishing company: Calderini Editore, Milan 2005
Fashion and Design, Styles and Accessories of the 19th century (Original title: Moda e Design, stili e Accessori del Novecento) by Gabriella D’Amato. Publishing company: Bruno Mondadori, 2007