Simplicity and minimalism made the 1990s a stark contrast to the vulgar 1980s. The economic climate meant a pared-down lifestyle and fashion reflected the changing mood, with clean lines and understated silhouettes. Excess was abolished-shoulder pads and fancy trimmings made way for slimline jackets and trousers with no visible fastenings. Designers used soft fluid fabrics, which moved with the body instead of against it, and Donna Karan’s ‘capsule wardrobe’ made the trouser suit a staple.
Anything overt became a fashion no-no, which gave androgyny a new-found status. Breasts were out, and the cleavage-enhancing clothes of the 1980s were replaced with spaghetti-strap dresses and little cardigans. This called for a revision of what the ideal body was, and with the discovery of Kate Moss, a new breed of waif-like supermodel emerged. Her nonconformity to previous ideals (slightly short, slightly bow-legged, slightly crooked-smiled) was a big relief to ordinary women. Suddenly individuality was granted recognition, and women began to realize that they did not need to emulate Cindy Crawford to look great.
This rejection of conformity was reflected in the beauty world: unisex fragrances such as CK One became cult items, and the phrase ‘no-make-up make-up’ was coined. Women wanted to look good naturally, and with the arrival of cult brand MAC and ‘make-up artists’ make-up’ there was a move away from traditional products. Bobbi Brown, Vincent Longo and Francois Nars were revered as the new major players. Huge scientific breakthroughs were happening in skincare, and consumer expectations increased accordingly. Even high-street brands began to incorporate newtechnology in their products.
The 1990s saw England make a bold mark on the global fashion map. John Galliano and Alexander McQueen designed for French fashion houses, London became the place to be and Britain was ‘Cool Britannia’.
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