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Photograph by Davide Sorrenti 

There probably isn’t an aesthetic that struck a chord so controversial in fashion as the notorious 90s inclination towards the new look: Heroine Chic. We are starting to see a bit of a return to this vibe in some of the world’s most prestigious runways, not surprising as the 90s is taking the 21st century by storm these days.

According to Wikipedia, heroine chic is defined as:

a look popularized in mid-1990s fashion and characterized by pale skindark circles underneath the eyes and angular bone structure. The look, characterised by emaciated features and androgyny, was a reaction against the “healthy” and vibrant look of models such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer

We found this throwback video of a 1997 episode of Fashion Television (I miss you!) on the death of fashion wunderkind Davide Sorrenti who had been one of the industry’s top photographers for this new look.

Taking photos of his friends in New york City inspired by the images of Larry Clarke and Nan Goldin, and coming from a lineage of art/fashion, he quickly became the go-to for this latest look until his untimely death at only 20 years old from . . . you guessed it!

HEROINE! (Not doing very well for the cause . . . )

According to top 90s fashion photographer Corrine Day  (who is often attributed with the rise of Kate Moss to iconic model status and poster child of this new look) in a 1997 interview for Vogue:

“We were poking fun at fashion” – Corinne Day, 1997

Out of the 80s which was all about glam and excess, Corrine Day in particular, stripped down her editorials to the basics, and instead of big butts, red lips, exaggerated bosoms, and endless hair; she chose young nymph-like beauties with a more natural essence and a bit of grit for a more realistic aesthetic that was really a rejection of the then standard of beauty.

It’s hard to get the joke when you use the words ‘Heroine’ and  ‘Chic’ together, and then you think of the deaths of so many talented young people (first supermodel Gia Carangi, actor and E.O.F. Style Idol, River Phoenix, rock star Kurt Cobain, and of course, ‘heroine chic’ proprietor Davide Sorrenti) during this time, making it impossible to reject the realities that this truly was a problem in the industry. However, I think it is a shame to bash the entire industry and pigeon hole this aesthetic and its creators and muses as – EVIL.

After all, in the end – they are images. You take them as you do, and thats that.

“Is Heroine Chic even real?”

That’s a brilliant question Jeanne Beker asks in this clip, and its what I kept asking myself as I watched it. After all, even Bill Clinton had something to say about this trend and its abuse on younger generations who could be susceptible to the cool factor of the fashion industry essentially embracing drugs.

However, it wasn’t the photographers or models or industry people coining the phrase, it was simply a term coined by the media which quickly turned into a frenzy – on the verge of a witch hunt.

There will always be that push against changing times, and interestingly enough today we are seeing the shift realized towards more “full” sized women in the mainstream of the industry. But, in the end, what does that prove?

It is always important to push healthy body image, but honestly, some of these girls (and boys, too) cannot help being that thin, so I always find it unfair this constant scrutiny on body types. Perhaps, the less we made an issue of either end of the scale, there wouldn’t have to be a problem at all.

The truth is we don’t want to accept each other for what we are, which is absolute crime.

In the end, I guess this clip posted initially by Dazed & Confused Magazine really just got me thinking, and would definitely have me thinking for a while.  There’s no denying this controversial era absolutely broke down walls in the realm of fashion imagery, and brought a rebellion to the forefront that continues to this day.

Nobody is perfect, and that’s what I think this era really tried to capitalize on in the simplest way.

Milla Jovovich interviews at Fashion Out Loud circa. 1996 ft. Davide Sorrenti

The elusive world of fashion will probably always have some sort of bad rep, and that’s fine.

But don’t be silly enough to only look at the surface.

Try to dig deeper in all aspects of life.

Until next time,

{theEye}

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