Flashback Friday: The Lowdown on Comeback Fashion

Flashback Friday: The Lowdown on Comeback Fashion

Opening Ceremony, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui are among the army of labels relaunching 90s throwbacks.

Opening Ceremony, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui are among the army of labels relaunching 90s throwbacks.

Text: Reshmi Kaur Oberoi

At 9 am, Friday, January 11, 2019, Opening Ceremony dropped knowledge about 90s-style dressing: A capsule collection that features Skidz official garments for men and women, popularized by urban legends Fresh Prince of Bel Air and singer Vanilla Ice, include plaid-printed tented tops and hoodies, graphic tees in bright yellow hazard and caution road signs, both un-tucked and paired with a choice of solid khaki flares, straight-legged plaid pants cuffed at the bottom to reveal a larger width windowpane plaid in contrasting colors. The women stand on modest black leather heels; The dudes, in classic black-and-white All-Star Converse sneakers.

We’ve seen FILA jersey-knit two-piece sets pop up in Bloomies and a throwback to Juicy Couture’s tracksuits were seen when velvet resurfaced in time for the holidays. But until now, there has not been an official re-launch of an expired brand, like Skidz, that had only lived for a fashion era. Previous efforts at 90s style of dressing were attempts at modernizing, refurbishing, and updating outdated motifs for a millenial and Generation Z population – like Calvin Klein’s Kardashian family My Calvins editorial stitched together with new quilt motifs. But as any Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, and Charmed 90s baby will tell you, revamps of TV shows past are a far cry from the originals, and tying a plaid shirt around a belly button bearing crop-top over acid-washed denim does not a true 90s fashion statement make.

Reuters reported that the Fall 2018 academic year was marketed in tandem with news of the Friends reboot, sparking a craze in 90s fashion: scrunchies, high-waist mom jeans, and overalls to name just a few. The craze amongst the school-goers just so happen to coincide with the young, working professionals – millennial born within the 1986 -1996 decade – a dark spot insofar as retail demographic.

Marc Jacobs could be credited with reasserting the golden days of a Clinton presidency in a pre-Y2K world with his Redux Grunge 1993-2018 collection. Knit beanies that roll over the head like a deflated chef’s hat, plaid spaghetti string dresses that skim the body without tailoring, sometimes layered over solid boat neck shirts that reveal a charm dangling from a black choker, are placed side-by-side in before-and-after photo montages. Rather than comparisons being made between the original designs and today’s garments, the pair of photos is more akin to sonogram image of identical twins. The collection includes staples: a stark white crochet sweater nonchalantly slung over Gigi Hadid’s shoulders, nondescript-length capris, too short shorts, a little below mid-calf hemlines, asymmetrical skirts, and graphic tees.

Anna Sui's grunge relaunch

This was the Spring collection that cost Jacobs his position at Perry Ellis, solidifying his place amongst the rebellious, but popular, status quo disturbing hip-hop circles. Cue in MTV’s Yo Mama. Anna Sui joined Jacobs in the ranks that critic circles deemed as fashion faux-pas, but as per Jacobs’ request, she acquiesced and just dug up her own time capsule of grunge pieces. She kept it real: her niece, Chase Sui Wonders and best friend, Losel Yauch, modeled the initial images that were photographed by Sui’s other niece, Jeannie Wonders.Grunge pieces keep it close to home because they were homegrown. “Back then, that’s how fashion happened a lot. It was just there, something definite in the air. Marc and I both were loving the music, knew those bands, and even went to concerts together,” Sui said. “We went to see Nirvana together at the old New York Coliseum.” What was once a nostalgic memory of happier times took a turn for the worse.

On January 11, Nirvana reportedly sued Marc Jacobs International on charges of copyright infringement, sullying the “goodwill” that Kurt Cobain spread with his smiley face image in 1992. Yet they also mention  public consumption, reflecting possible royalty profits. And for that reason, the official complaint includes Jacobs’ use of lyrics in one of his ads.

On the flip side, Cathy Horyn, writing for The Washington Post, retracted her earlier scathing reviews of Marc Jacobs 90s throwback. In her appeal, Horyn claims that the European fashion houses had inundated the runways with a less slovenly appeal. Jacobs posted the update: “The only thing that I can find wrong, now, with his effort is it’s timing,” Horyn asserted. New York Times’ Bernadine Morris’s famous critique of grunge: “an anethma to fashion,” made the rounds before falling on Perry Ellis’s anything-but-deaf ears.

Fall 2018 reintroduced some heyday staples - the Saddle bag-turned fanny pack, for one- perhaps as a subtle cushiony transition for what is to come in 2019: A full on return of the 90s in pop culture.

Marc Jacobs Grunge Redux

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