Sunday, July 17, 2011

All the young dudes.

Taking a moment away from all the tech talk to get back to my roots with a post on fashion.

When my contemporaries and I were teenagers, we didn't have the Gossip Girls and Willow Smiths of today's world to look up to. In the mid-nineties, tweenage fashion was defined in three key moments: Cher's knee-high socks in Clueless, Ginger Spice's Union Jack dress at the Brit awards and Britney's school uniform in Baby One More Time. The last correlating directly to my parent's decision to send me to boarding school.

But before all that, and before Girl Power with its ghastly Buffalo boots and belly chains, there was one TV show setting the benchmark for post-grunge tween style. Blossom. Blossom was an American series which managed to combine important life lessons with some fashion statements even Carrie Bradshaw couldn't compete with. No other show before or since and been single-handedly responsible for the comeback of hats. Hats baby.

I recently found this interview with the costume designer on Blossom who explains how she mixed ethnic materials with vintage pieces to create a look that defined a generation.

Talking with my friends, its seems we are all in agreement that teenage fashion was not easy to come by in our youth. For those of us not into the pint-sized prostitute look peddled by the likes of Tammy Girl and Miss Selfridge (pre-overhaul), we had no choice but to be creative. Our response to a waif-like Kate Moss on the cover of Dazed & Confused, and the final days of Kurt Cobain manifested itself in Doc Marten's, slouch socks, floral leggings and our Dad's washed out denim shirts. Fashion inspiration didn't just come neatly packaged from celebrities and magazines, it was much more a reflection of our culture, our moods, music, art and movements.

To illustrate my point, I had a quick dig through the family albums. Having a photographer father means that my developing style - for good or bad - has been painstakingly documented. In the shots below - both from the mid-nineties - you'll see my fashion homages to both Nirvana and Pulp Fiction.

However odd us Nineties kids must have looked at times, I'm glad we didn't have our fashion fed to us quite as prescriptively as we seem to now. The grunge-y, ramshackle look not only gave us freedom to express ourselves as we pleased, but also allowed us to remain kids, if only for a couple more years. Covered in baggy tees and stomping around in DM's meant we didn't feel the pressure young girls must experience today of having the "perfect" Nicole Scherzinger body. We weren't about being "so hot you'd melt a popsicle", we came as we were. Fake boobs and botox? Ugh, as if!