While Generation Z currently revels in the fashion staples of the ’90s, those who lived through the era might feel a tug of nostalgia. From Y2K crop tops, slip dresses to slogan tees, the ’90s fashion scene was more than just clothing; it was an era of self-expression and minimalism.
The decade was a refreshing shift from the ostentatious ’80s. Goodbye, bling and cumbersome power dressing; the ’90s brought forth subtlety and a youthful appeal, evident when Princess Diana traded her oversized ensembles for a more contemporary style.
One of the standout trends was the bias cutting, a technique from the ’30s. John Galliano was notably obsessed with this approach, taking inspiration from Madeleine Vionnet, the French designer. Another name that springs up when discussing this era is Martha Graham, an iconic American dancer. Her influence brought about comfortable, stretchy clothes, perfect for dancing.
Supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Cindy Crawford introduced a wave of natural beauty that was complemented by simple, elegant clothing. This era popularized white oversized shirts, a look that can be traced back to a 1988 Vogue shoot by Peter Lindbergh.
But as with all fashion eras, there were controversies. The term “heroin chic” made headlines, with then US president Bill Clinton criticizing the fashion industry for promoting unhealthy images. This term was associated with extremely skinny models like Kate Moss, creating a fashion trend that some felt romanticized self-destruction.
However, the ’90s weren’t all about stick-thin beauty standards. The bias-cut skirt, for example, returned as a beloved summer staple. Modern adaptions have made it versatile, pairing perfectly with vests, lightweight jumpers, or strappy sandals. Combat pants, strapless dresses, oversized shirts, and bucket hats have also made a resurgence. Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri has even put the humble bucket hat center stage in recent collections.
Looking back, the ’90s was an era that appreciated natural beauty. Bobbi Brown’s “nude” makeup became a must-have, favoring a more natural look over heavy makeup. Hairstyles too embraced simplicity, with iconic looks like Rachel Green’s layered cut and Gwyneth Paltrow’s crop leading the way. Fast forward to today, the ’90s influence is evident. Pixie cuts are still trendy, and the nude makeup look, now dubbed “latte make-up,” is a TikTok sensation.
Guerlain’s recent launch of nude palettes captures the essence of the ’90s while catering to modern sensibilities, proving that while times may change, classic beauty never goes out of style.
While Gen Z may have their unique spin on these trends, the ’90s will always remain a defining period for those who lived it. It wasn’t just about the clothes; it was about embracing change, simplicity, and natural beauty.