Return of grunge

Floral dresses are a wardrobe staple irrespective of the season, and for autumn/winter ’19, they are back and even darker than ever. Inspired by the grunge look that thrived in the 90s, it would not be your typical autumn palette without dark colours, such as lavender on navy and vermillion roses. Initially emerging from brands like The Row, Valentino, and Givenchy, this season dons grunge with classic feminine pieces. 

Back in 1990, the music industry gained media acclaim for its surge and decline of punk. This rise in genre was accompanied by the choice of fashion of the day. Back then, the grunge look was mundane everyday clothing – oversized sweaters, ripped jeans, a pair of Chuck Taylor’s and of course, unkempt hair. Kurt Cobain, who pioneered the look came with one motto, “Less is more.” 

But it wasn’t until fashion designer Marc Jacobs took the look to the runway of his now-infamous collection for Perry Ellis in 1992 did people notice its fashion appeal. As Cobain was on his way to becoming a household name, Vogue was preparing an all-star cast including Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy and Nadja Auermann to shoot their new grunge pages. At the same time, Kate Moss was establishing herself as an icon and fashion’s poster child for the grunge movement. 

Vivienne Westwood, an architect of the grunge fashion phenomenon in 1970 used the spread of the movement as an opportunity to shock, irritate, and provoke a reaction to inspire change in the industry. British songwriter Viv Albertine is known to have said, “[Grunge fashion] showed that it is okay to not be perfect, to show the workings of your life and your mind in your clothes.” Then, the hallmark of the style were mohair jumpers, knitted on big needles so loosely that you could see through them, t-shirts slashed and written on by hand, and seams on the outside of outfits. 

Meanwhile, on the red carpet, icons like Gwen Stefani rocked a crop top, Drew Barrymore inspired girls to wear beanies, denim, leather and Chuck Taylor’s again, Johnny Depp wore his hair always disheveled and PJ Harvey taught the generation how grunge is the anti-fashion movement. 

Inspired to wear that leather jacket you’ve stored in the back of your closet again? Here are some tips on how to rock the trend this season: 

Pump it up with some platform heels: For those looking to embolden their style, platform heels are a staple for the grunge look. Wear them with some wide-leg trousers, padded shoulder tops, and top handle bags – all in fluorescent colours. You will surely stand out from the crowd! 

Apply dark makeup and accessories: Feminine grunge is simple. Pair your favourite ladylike dress or lace slip with some chokers, chains and studded combat boots. Finish the look with some dark eyeshadow and plum lipstick. Don’t forget your iconic round sunglasses! 

Wear the flannel: Focus on the flannels with dark tones like brown, red and burgundy. They can be oversized and have holes in them. Avoid buttoning them up and couple them with some 90s band t-shirts with ripped jeans. Make the outfit authentic. 

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Monique Santoso

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January 2022
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