There is a clip of Fashion televisionCTV’s long-running fashion show, which I often think about. It’s from Marc Jacobs’ FW 1997 track, which presented all the expected names of the time: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista. She showed off many see-through changes that season, models strutting along with her hair in what is now described as the “messy bun,” single-faced by today’s fashion standards. Jacobs described the collection as the fantasy “not of other designers,” who would send alien garments down the runways in those days. Her fantasy, or so she claimed, was an “ideal of beauty (…) that could be out of your reach because it is a high-priced fad, but not out of your reach because you can’t understand why someone would wear that.”
Anyway, I found this video, and many others like this one, on a particular YouTube channel called 90’s fashion. It’s kind of reductive when naming conventions, of course, and reminiscent of nostalgic and not regulated Instagram pages that post, for example, Christy Turlington in Chanel SS 1992 while claiming it iIt’s actually Helena Christensen in Versace SS 1992. But the channel itself is a collection of archival fashion videos and documentaries, ranging from the 1990s to the early days. “90s Fashion” is one of the few remaining places on the Internet where you will find behind-the-scenes videos of Martine Sitbon or to peek inside the AIDS Project LA Retrospective Todd Oldham in 1996, where Elizabeth Hurley and Patricia Velásquez almost swallowed Jeanne Beker, Fashion TV presenter, alive.
With the cries for the fashion world to revolutionize as the pandemic tears the fashion industry, I have found myself going back to these videos. They are a reminder of how things have changed and how people and our relationship with fashion changed Beauty Standards in the ’90s they were, for some, more toxic than they are these days. (Although I disagree in certain examples, looking at the latest Instagram posts from popular and commented designers.) Models didn’t have much of a voice in those days; They still don’t, but at least the outlets are more willing to hear the faces that sell the ads that keep them afloat. Even the minutiae of the fashion world have changed. Celebrities look more dead-eyed in the front row. Kate Moss no longer smokes cigarettes behind the scenes with Marc Jacobs, and if she does, she’s smart enough not to be photographed doing it. Fashion itself is not something that really justifies television commercials, with Most of our knowledge is leaked through increasingly obscure blogs and niche Instagram pages and Youtube videos.
fashion is Changing, as it should be. The dizzying rhythm of the the industry is unsustainable, like growing number of the seasons are stacked on the already bloated calendar of spring, then browse, then pre-fall, that fall, then re-surf, then pre-spring, then a capsule collection, then a streetwear collaboration. (Before doing it again.) The fun is lost, as is the thrill of presenting wearable fantasies to boost our perceptions of self. By watching these videos, I know that wit and glamor are not lost, and this industry will find them again. I hope, at least.