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BY RACHELLE EVANS
THE REIGN OF 90'S RUNWAY
Recent runway has been plagued by controversy and scandal. With wealth disparity that boosts the careers of nepotism-babies turned models to fashion show pieces that bore buyers, it makes sense that fashion critics have declared the “death of runway.” However, in the midst of failures and flops, it's important to appreciate a time when runway dazzled audiences and the fashion industry with melodramatics and creativity. Let's take a trip back in time to the 90s.
Shalom Harlow captivated the catwalk with her iconic ferocity, carefully strutting from side to side while swinging the end of her bright orange maxi skirt down the runway at the Todd Oldham Spring 1995 show. Naomi Campbell rocked the Chanel Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1993 runway with her purple crystal gown slipping off her shoulder. Linda Evangelista was crowned the “chameleon” of the runway with her ability to strut catwalks embodying a different persona with each look. What made these moments so magical? They are all snapshots of theatrical art within the fashion realm.
At a time at which Americans were generating more disposable income with the rise of the middle class, the 90s marked a prominent time at which clothes were praised beyond their functionality . People began to appreciate the risks and craft that went into different pieces and shows, and the models that rattled the runway. Fashion shows were compared to artistic productions instead of opportunities for designers to drain the pockets of its onlookers. Things are clearly different today.
Follow the money, and your journey will show you that the runway today is designed for profit only. One noticeable change is the attendees of these shows. With the rise of influencer and social-media marketing, mega-influencers instead of genuine fashion lovers flood the front rows of famous shows. Get this: NYKDaily reports that the total social media visibility of fashion week content was 20 percent higher this season than last season. The more coverage a show gets, the more profits they make. So, shows are now focused on utilizing famous personalities instead of skilled models, and clothes that are attention-capturing instead of artistic and innovative.
As a close follower of the fashion world, I can’t help but hold out some hope for the revival of the runway. Luckily for me, I don’t think my hopes are that far-fetched, as brands who are now receiving praise and popularity incorporate 90s runway motifs into their campaigns. The collections of Thierry Mugler embody simplistic yet stunning designs that are worn on models who are not afraid to walk with personality. Mugler showcases designs on a runway with models who walk with force that elevate his shows and truly transport viewers back to the 90s with no time machine required. The 90s runway was a fierce and entertaining circus of avant-garde fashion, and I'm all for designers like Mugler resurrecting that era to inject some much-needed artistic pizzazz into the fashion world.