Tag Archives: 1991

Ralph Lauren, 1991



“For me, luxury is a sensibility, an approach to life. It’s not about the season’s newest anything. It’s about personal style and creating an environment of comfort and ease.”


Dolce & Gabbana, 1991

Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce parlay their Italian roots into menswear for the first time. The collection constructed by Sicilian craftsman seemed to take them on as a theme; presenting gentlemanly thugs in oversized yet softened volumes rendered in classic styles—a continuation of the pair’s perpetual homage to Italian iconography, that they would eventually own and eventually spoil. At the time Dolce & Gabanna were celebrated as avant-garde and out of the gentle drape of their voluptuous sweater knits and romantic coatings is indeed a look alarmingly as fresh today as it probably was 20 years ago.

Ralph Lauren, 1991

A life of leisure for the genteel gentry. A haughty nonchalance. Ralph Lauren’s exploration of the era’s pared down but not yet minimalist ease offered a suitable haven for those who disdained an encroaching cultural vulgarity. The monochromatic palette, the soft sensual lines, and a nod to 1930’s leisure wear, albeit slightly inauthentic coming from the Great Gatsby himself, is all class.

Versace, 1991

Peculiar clothes for a peculiar time: men’s fashion had just begun its rise to legitimacy, gaining ground alongside women’s wear as a cultural meter while the economy still pulled itself together. Versace’s participation would not be through classical, timeless clothes (he knew well enough to leave that to Giorgio) but instead championing the novelty of the outlandish and new — fashion with a capital F. Vivid colors and prints, visual humor, optical effects: taste pushed to its maximum limits, this would be the unabashed Calabrian’s way. It would be potent and simultaneously give fashion license to conventional machismo aspiration and homosexual self-discovery, to newfound appreciation for excess and a jaunty modernism, all packaged under the Medusa seal to be sold around the world. If the the leisure suits and paisley prints of the 1960’s were for peacocks, Versace was a bird of paradise. And a decade later all of it would be over.

Subtlety had entered the vernacular of cool and that left the Versace Man of the early ’90s disrupted and far behind, his wild bravado lost on more refined tastes and minimalist sophistication. And for the next decade after that he would remain dormant, stashed away in the halfway house for fashion taboos. It would be an intense struggle for the house, navigating its iconic history through a fashion mob that seemed to despise it. But things are always changing in fashion. And so we wonder why he has now reappeared, in almost full glory, not only at the house of his conception but elsewhere, places where the strangeness and perceived ridiculousness can begin to make some kind of sense, again.

Jil Sander, 1991

 A romantic and historicist’s touch on Jil Sander’s burgeoning minimalist look.

Considering Milanese fashion of the time: the pastiche of trompe l’oeil prints from Versace, rococo embellishments from Ferre, and hyper ethnic stripes from Missoni, Jil Sander was indeed a minimalist. But the designer’s ambitions were never a campaign for anti-fashion, instead it was a personal move, a step towards a modernity of her own making. Sander reveled in the novelty of fashion, reinterpreting its shifts and swings for herself and no one else. She did not abhor fashion, rather, she only wanted to grant it some ease.

Polly Mellen, 1991

Michael Kors’ fall 1991 campaign starring Christy Turlington and the legendary Polly Mellen

“Not even a chunk of ceiling falling into the middle of the runway could break the concentration at the Michael Kors show at a loft at 119 West 24th Street. Suzy Menkes was clipped on the head by a piece of it, but she moved down the row and accepted a seat from Mr. Neimark. Anna Bayle, who was modeling a camel-hair polo coat, said later that she thought it was a gunshot, but she continued to show the coat. The debris was cleaned up and the show went on.

A fine show it was, as the clothes exuded a light, youthful vigor, in attractive shapes and colors. It began with camel-hair coats and jackets mated with gold tulle skirts and dresses or gold sweaters. These combinations not only blurred the lines between daytime and dress-up clothes, but they had enough insouciance to win a serious place in the fall fashion agenda. Black sequined leggings with camel jackets, and black lace skirts or pants with gold leather coats were other unpredictable juxtapositions.

The basic idea throughout the show was to clothe the body snugly in T-shirts or tights and to throw something loose and fetching over the top. A dirndl-style skirt could be tied over the tights for a bit of fluff.

The clothes had a lot of energy and zip, so the audience overlooked the stunning heat and the collapsing ceiling. It brought into consideration how much they were willing to suffer for fashion.”

– Bernadine Morris for the New York Times, April 11, 1991


Dries Van Noten, 1991

Dries Van Noten’s first runway presentation…

“It then took another five years to decide to organize a menswear fashion show, which was for the Spring-Summer 1992 collection and took place in the basement of the hotel Saint-James & Albany in central Paris, on Friday, July 5, 1991. It was my first collaboration with Etienne Russo and I assume his first show as well. Rehearsals went smoothly. The soundtrack included an extract from the motion picture Moonstruck and That’s Amore from Dean Martin, mixed by Belgian DJ Koen Rogghe. The show – which I styled myself – and the venue had a deliberately amateur feel and was all rather well organized. Even so, at the end of the show we understood why a lot of models – mostly friends of mine – arrived barefoot on the catwalk: a dresser, taken with a crazy panic, had desperately tried to put the wrong sized shoes on them!

Afterwards, I was exhausted, yet relieved. Reactions from the audience were very positive and encouraging. I learned that journalists and stylists who attended understood my respect of traditional values versus my will to break with established codes and conventions. My approach to design today remains similar – though evolved.”

– From My First Collection: Dries Van Noten at anothermag.com

Donatella, 1991

Dressed in her brother Gianni’s designs, Donatella Versace and close friend, Elton John make quite the entrace.

image from Life Magazine

Kiss Them For Me

In 1991, even Siouxsie Sioux and her Banshees traded in their cynical gloom for positive thinking with an upbeat dance tempo and a billboard top 1oo hit.

Exuberance, 2011

Oliviero Toscani’s talents for Esprit simulated a Utopia within the brand’s own visual culture, suggesting a better world, a fresher one at least, for their customers to consider.

Spring 11 looks by Jil Sander, Missoni, Prada, and Matthew Ames

The Spring 2011 collections have revealed a similar outlook, not surprising that it was prevalent mostly in the Milan collections. Clear color, bold graphics and prints, an abstracted silhouette, and a heavy dose of humor are new ways to move on from the incorrectly labeled “minimalism” that has defined fashion in the past season. Of course the look is clean and pared down, but it finds enrichment with an entirely different vocabulary, an entirely modern one, actually.

Jean Louis Scherrer Haute Couture, 1991

Versace Haute Couture, 1991

Emanuel Ungaro Haute Couture, 1991

There’s been several takes on optimism and humor, Schiaparelli, Capucci, Kenzo Takada, Issey Miyake, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Moschino, and Isaac Mizrahi have all given their celebratory spin on life, adding to an evolving discourse. But its most pertinent iteration is perhaps in the Haute Couture of the very early 90’s, just as the recession challenged its relevance and provoked it to come up with something to say, that despite its excess it still had a message worth taking note of. As much as fashion needs its palate cleansed it cannot deny the wonders that a cheerful perspective and certain amount of richness can grant, even if it is only laughing so that it won’t cry.