Courtney Love circa 1991 has always been a source of style inspiration to me. I love her signature look of a silky slip, moth-eaten fur coat and ripped fishnet tights. It was iconic, rebellious and reflected her rock n roll, touring lifestyle, at the height of 90s heroin chic style.
Born in 1993, to an 18 year old still very much in her grunge fashion phase whose wardrobe consisted largely of mens plaid shirts, band tees and Levi 501's, the grungey look of the nineties serves a comforting nostalgia for me. Borrowing your Dad's t-shirts to wear as oversized, yet still bum cheek grazing dresses, scouring charity shops for gems among the dust and heading to the local markets was how original grunge was formed.
It is blatantly obvious that grunge is back in vogue. It has been for a while now, and it appears that it is here to stay, for a few more seasons at least. However, the rawness of nineties grunge is no longer.
Looking at high street fashion first, there are a plethora of ripped jeans or, grungier still, ripped Mom jeans available in various washes. Now, I am guilty of owning at least 3 pairs of ripped jeans, but then again I have the luxury of a student loan and student discount at my disposal. I'm sure the original grungers of the nineties would have either ripped their own jeans, or the rips appear through extensive wear.
Worse still, you can actually buy already ripped tights. Now, I don't know if it's just me and my lack of balance and clumsy nature, but I certainly do not need any help to rip my tights - just ask my Mum from my high school days when I literally went through a pair of tights a day. It baffles me that people would buy ripped tights, it really does. Urban Outfitters is the worst for me, especially their Renewal section, mostly Levi Cut-Offs and Flannel shirts a.k.a the neo-grunge girls staple wardrobe, with vastly marked up prices, "But it's at Urban Outfitters, a business basically built on commercialising grunge" as fashionista states here (definitely worth a read)
Pastel hair is another trend that grates on my nerves. The current desire for washed out looking, multi tonal pastel hair is not a new concept by far. However, the idea of paying a large sum to a professional to get the DIY look makes absolutely no sense. If the outcome is going to look home dyed and a bit messy and a bit uneven, save money, buy a tube of Crazy Colour or Manic Panic and just do it yourself. Bleach London, for example, charge between £55 for 1 'super cool colour' and £75 for 3 'super cool colours' (the name alone makes me want to vomit) on top of up to £180 for bleaching. Over £200 for a result that won't look far different to the DIYers of the nineties that involved your mums bathroom and cheap pastel hair colour. Lest we forget that Blondie front woman, Debbie Harry's signature blonde and brown dye job came about because she used to dye her hair herself, and couldn't reach the back.
I've grown up in Dr Martens, for several reasons. Firstly, my Mum's influence. I still remember a pair of knee high purple crushed velvet Docs she had. It's a shame we no longer know where they are, plus she's 2 sizes bigger than me, sigh. Secondly, my step-mum worked as a visual merchandiser for Dr Marten's when the head office was still in Convent Garden. Her discount was great, and the shoes were even nice. My taste, however, was not: lime green patent docs with daisies, not so nice. However, Dr Marten's were the shoes of my youth, and due to server feet problems, they are to this day the only shoes that I can comfortably wear for a long period of time, and working in retail, this is vital.
My DM's were not accepted or appreciated by my peers though. They didn't understand why I'd wear such chunky boots. Fast-forward to today, I guarantee that at least half of them now have a pair, or failing that, a pair of Topshop boots that are evidently influenced by the iconic Dr Marten's. However, they'll likely be spotless, hardly worn fashion statements. Once a source of ridicule, until Fashion Week deem's them this seasons must have.
Talking of Fashion Week, whilst I can almost turn a blind eye to high street's jumping on the grunge style bandwagon, when designers use it as an influence for their collections I can't help but wince. Grunge, by definition, means filth, inferior quality and in relation to the alternative music movement of the 90s. High fashion is none of the above. High prices, supposedly good quality and with no relation to the grunge bands of the movement, designer grunge is a fad.
There is however, I believe, an exception to this rule. Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent Paris. His collections for the iconic brand, are undoubtedly influenced by music, and alongside fashion designing, he has curated several series of photographs of influential musicians, including my aforementioned style icon, Courtney Love, and my musical and style favourite, Marilyn Manson. I have written about these before, which you can read here. Although the price tag of the Saint Laurent collections are still extortionate, at least there is a musical / fashion crossover. Of Slimane's collections, Courtney Love has said:
"You mean Hedi [Slimane]'s collection [for Saint Laurent]? I think he got it right. I've seen the clothes -- I haven’t worn them. They seem really well made. It is kind of ironic that you can get a trench coat at Value Village [thrift stores] for $19.99 today or you could wait another month and go to Bergdorf and buy Hedi's houndstooth trench coat for $2,000. It's fine. But referencing me is weird because I never wore Dr. Martens."
On the whole though, neo-grunge gripes me. I admit that I am guilty of buying into the grunge high street trends, I own at least five band tees from Topshop and H&M - Metallica featuring highly - but that's mainly because Metallica are my favourite band, and I feel high street shops band tees are a nicer fit than band tops sold as merch. However, I would never wear a band top of a band I don't know more than, say 3 songs. I have, and probably always will, wear Dr Marten's, plus I've 'borrowed' my best friend Jake's flannel shirt for nearing two years now. My style isn't because it's in Vogue. My style is the way it is, because I will always, deep down, be a weird, goth kid who loves metal music and wearing black and lives in her Dr Martens.
Grunge is great, trends however are not. Take inspiration from it, then create your own style but always remember the origins, preferably whilst listening to Celebrity Skin.