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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: another girl, another planet
Nostalgia: " Grunge & Glory "
US VOGUE August 2006
Written by Amanda Brooks
It was October 1992, and Madonna was on the cover, dressed as a glamorous hippie — big floppy hat, studded bell-bottom pants, a striped turtleneck, and bare feet. She could have passed for a Brown student, albeit a particularly fashion-conscious one. Also in Vogue that season was Ralph Lauren doing the more tasteful bohemian look (the one I'd seen the real estate mogul's daughter wearing), with floral slip dresses over T-shirts and long, dangling necklaces. Ralph's version of hippie dressing was written in my language, while the "grunge" collection by Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis, shown in its full understated glory that December, was harder to get a fix on — until I saw a friend wearing the whole look to class (to class!) one day. After that I was sold.
Fortunately for me, deconstructed outfits and eclecticism were the perfect way to combine the mundane clothes I already had (Converse All Stars, T-shirts, plaid flannel shirts, scarves, and wool hats) with a few trendier pieces that didn't break the bank. I began to prowl the Providence thrift stores, far more "curated" than the Bronxville variety, which had required spending many hours digging through bins of ratty garments in order to uncover one great find (worn Levi's, a Polo shirt, a Givenchy cashmere cardigan). My other great discovery was Contempo Casuals, sadly now defunct, which was a precursor to H&M and Zara. It had supertrendy clothes and was even more affordable than the Gap. I would leave with armfuls of bell-bottoms, crocheted knit caps, floral slip dresses, and frilled shirts to experiment with while studying my copy of Vogue.
A little unsure of how my mall fashion — so not cool in those days — would go over with my much fancier friends, I showed up at my nineteenth-birthday party in a black chiffon ruffled blouse with outrageously exaggerated black bell-bottoms and a black crocheted vest. Everything but the choker and heart pendant someone had given me for my birthday came from Contempo Casuals. After quizzing me about my outfit and how much I paid for it, my designer-clad friends were following me back to the mall the next day.
For the rest of my freshman year, I continued to put together looks inspired by the now-infamous grunge story in Vogue. Most vividly etched in my memory is a black-and-white floral slip dress by Ralph Lauren (bought at Filene's Basement in Boston) worn over a white T-shirt with white Converse sneakers or Red Wing boots (a kinder, gentler version of Doc Martens). My hair was long, unbrushed, and firmly parted in the middle, and my make-up was sparse-a look that was authentically grunge but also authentically me.
I must have considered this my best outfit because I wore it that summer when I was a photo assistant to Patrick Demarchelier. Coming unexpectedly full circle from my moment of fashion inspiration just months before, I was invited to Madonna's birthday party after a day spent working on the shoot for her Bedtime Stories cover. It was a great party, with just 30 or so people. We feasted on Cuban food, drank too many mojitos, and danced all night with Madonna, her backup dancers, a slew of drag queens, and a handful of her close friends, including Gloria Estefan, Dennis Rodman, Mickey Rourke, and the Versace Family. Late that night (or was it early morning?), I was given a ride to my hotel by Gianni Versace (it was just him and Donatella and me in the back of their limo), and he told me he liked my look. I felt so shy that I think I said four words to them the whole ride: "Thank you" and "Good night."
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes - Marcel Proust
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