From The Beatles' mod suits to the punk gear flaunted by the Sex Pistols, music-inspired fashion dominates at least one chapter in each era of the history of style. And 20 years ago, in the final decade of the 20th century amid a stream of minimalism and American sportswear, Kurt Cobain gave flannel shirts and striped jumpers their place in that history, pioneering a look that continues to symbolise the musical genre he and his band spearheaded.
Ladies and gentlemen, grunge is back!
Actually, saying grunge is back is a bit of an oxymoron, since grunge hardly ever went away for very long. You still spot indie kids and rock musicians around town sporting flannels and stripes. The style is synonymous with big fashion-industry players like Emmanuelle Alt, editor-in-chief of French Vogue, while another icon of the 1990s, Kate Moss, still occasionally steps out in a grungy leather jacket and printed tea-dress combo. The 90s was the decade in which many of the current young bloods of fashion grew to maturity and the sensibility of those times has long been incorporated into their personal styles.
But on the runway, grunge was never something designers were particularly interested in revisiting probably because its heyday was considered to have long passed. Grungy looks did continue to pop up here and there, but it wasn't until this season that some major designers hit it hard, so much so that this could herald a full comeback this autumn. Just ask Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane!
While we await Slimane's attempt at a full-blown grunge revival next season, spring/summer 2013 sees Dries van Noten and House of Holland toying with the genre. Faded checks and slip dresses with semi-abstract florals are teamed with laced-up ankle boots at House of Holland and there's even a layering of two different prints in some of the outfits. Van Noten, however, reveals a luxurious yet practical take on this style synonymous with street culture by using fabric textures, especially those of sheer checks, to give the look a softer, more romantic feel.
On the commercial viability level, his "grunge ensemble" _ consisting of a few pieces layered one over the another to achieve the look _ can truly be separated into its constituents, with each having its own sales value and stylistic practicality above and beyond the grunge trend. Forget the legendary Nirvana on MTV Unplugged, the musical equivalent of fashion's neo-grunge is having Smells Like Teen Spirit rendered by the same ensemble that regularly performs Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8 In E Flat Major.
In the real world, it's a different story. The notion of neo-grunge styling is sure to tickle those non-grunge types who will be wondering if they, too, can ride on the coat-tails of this trend by making it a little more their own, after a nod to the basic elements of course. Boyish girls can continue to enjoy their skinny jeans with striped jumper, slouchy jacket and a checked scarf, perhaps. Those who prefer the more feminine side of grunge may want to try one of those flowing dresses in grandma floral print layered over an army-green safari jacket and finished off with a pair of laced-up ankle boots or canvas sneakers.
About the author
- Writer: Samila Wenin
Position: Muse Editor