Olivia Rodrigo’s latest music video is something of a shrine to Y2K fashion. Pairing Roberto Cavalli mini-dresses with fishnet tights, bejeweled “baby girl” tank tops with chunky flip flops, and butterfly hair clips with rimless sunglasses à la Cartier, the 19-year-old star is a walking billboard for Gen-Z’s fascination with the aesthetics of the early aughts — an era it’s too young to have ever experienced.
The video, directed by Petra Collins, is a testament to the era’s current hold on fashion. Without a hint of irony, every single Y2K trend you can think of is crammed into the pastel-toned visual, heavy with Collins’s particular brand of Tumblr-era feminism.
While much of the enthusiasm for the early 2000s is fueled by Millennial and even Zillennial nostalgia for skinny scarves and trucker hats, Rodrigo’s commitment to the visual cues of the period feels somewhat incongruous: how can someone born in 2003 — barely conscious during the rise of baby tees and chunky boots — authentically dabble in a style so heavily rooted in sentimentalism?
It’s an incongruity that some of Rodrigo’s “controversies” have thrown into sharp relief.
Earlier this summer, Courtney Love called out the teen for undeniable similarities between a promo image for her concert film, Sour Prom, and the cover of Hole’s Live Through This.
Largely credited with pioneering the “kinderwhore” look, an aesthetic born in the ’90s that carried over into the 2000s (it’s also fodder for much of Collins’s photography and directorial work), Love succinctly summed up her feelings in a now-deleted Instagram post: “Olivia – you’re welcome.”
Rodrigo was also accused of plagiarizing Paramore, whose hit song “Misery Business” (released in 2007, when Rodrigo was four) clearly influenced the teen’s chart-topping, summer-defining single, “Good 4 U.”
We’re not trying to gatekeep the early 2000s — clearly, it’s an aesthetic that has proven enduring enough to stir something in both Millennials and Gen-Z’ers alike. That being said, the craze for Y2K fashion is sure to reach the depths of the trickle-down effect sooner or later.
As fast fashion giants including SHEIN and H&M churn out marabou-trimmed tank tops and platform sandals, the early aughts revival is on a fast track to banality. We eagerly await a new throwback — what will our Gen-Z ingénues discover next?