What fashion moment inspired you? FLARE’S writing contest winners reveal their answers
In our May issue, we asked you to tell us about the fashion moment of the past 30 years that inspired you most. We received more than 180 entries, so picking our winners was a challenge. Here, two of the entries who received honourable mentions. Pick up the October issue of FLARE to read the essays of the winner and first runner up.
“GRUNGE, MY MUSE” BY CHRISTINA ORESKOVICH
Marc Jacobs Photo: Anthea Simms
Some might say that I was too young to remember it. Or at the very least, too young to be impacted by Marc Jacobs’ Perry Ellis grunge collection of 1992. Indeed, I was a kid, a child, a youth. But I remember the changing faces in the magazines. The simplicity of the perky blonde in the day-glo sweater no longer sufficed. The images were darker, the fashion completely un-chic. I remember the flannel and the Doc Martens, the thermal and the skullcaps. Moreover, I recall how the fashion embodied both the tragically morose music that ruled the radio waves and the sense of disillusionment in the teenagers of the day. The shoulder pads, the primary colours, and the ‘matchy-matchy’ were out the window. The athletic and impossibly beautiful glamazons that had once graced the runways had disappeared and been replaced with hollow-eyed girls and boys with gaunt faces and unkempt hair. The Marc Jacobs grunge collection was more than a mere line of clothing. It was dirty and common, in a world that privileged elite glamour. With the unveiling of Jacobs’ genius, the look of the masses would no longer elude high fashion. High fashion was, simply, what the kids were wearing.
Of course, at the time, I was far too young to understand any of this. But I knew one thing: the kids wore grunge, and the kids were cool. I was fearful of these teenagers who oozed a sense of rebellious indifference, but simultaneously intrigued by their layers and tatters and rips. To me, the look was dirty, flawed and beautiful. I myself was a devoted tomboy at the time, and suddenly, I realized that clothing and personal style were powerful tools for self-expression. I wanted to stand out amidst the other girls who wore the dainty and feminine clothing their parents had purchased for them. I immediately became hyper-aware of what I wore, and attempted to exhibit my identity through my choice of clothing, hairstyles and, of course, attitude. I tore through my brother’s t-shirts, matted my hair into a low ponytail and engulfed my tiny body in a baggy blue flannel button-up. I was inspired to define myself as a little tough, a little different, a little hard to handle.
I found this whole self-expression thing totally liberating. I could emote through the very clothes I chose to wear on my back. This gave me a minute taste of freedom and power in a world where I was too young to be taken all that seriously. I realized that fashion helped personify who I felt I was, and how I wanted people to see me. Since the very moment I understood that anything could be fashionable if there was passion and reason behind it, a new world opened up to me – a world where I could evoke different aspects of my personality through the simple switch of a shirt, or a pair of shoes. Were it not for Marc Jacobs, the flannel and the Doc Martens, the thermal and the skullcaps, I may have let this moment of self-discovery pass me by. The grunge of the early nineties showed me that fashion could be easy and attainable. It wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t chic, and that’s why I loved it. It was perfectly imperfect.
“WE DON’T WAKE UP FOR LESS THAN $10,000 A DAY” BY PREET GREWAL
Never before had such a self-important and self-aware sound bite made its way to my lackluster sixth grade life. When Linda Evangelista unleashed her often-misquoted quip on senior Vogue writer, Jonathan Van Meter, she penetrated my self-imposed force field of preteen inertia.
I had never paid much attention to fashion up to that point. But that’s not to say I didn’t know what I liked. I liked colour, I liked pattern, I liked anything loud and obnoxious that my mother would let me near. I was a quiet child and wearing pajama pants with break-dancing penguins showed a side of me I was too shy to let out. I took my fashion inspiration from what was around me. Jem and the Holograms inspired me to wear neon nail polish and trade in my boring white shoelaces for bright orange and green ones. Fido Dido, the cartoon spokesperson for 7UP inspired me to wear baggy Boca sweatshirts and slouch socks.
The supermodel world of Naomi, Cindy, Claudia, Christy and Linda was alien to me. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t be more different from them. Their clothes were tight, mine were baggy. Their hair was shiny and smooth while mine was dull and unruly. Their faces were angular and flawless while mine was pug-ish and fraught with acne. Sometimes I would flip through my older sister’s Flare magazines and see the fashion spreads of powerful looking women in business suits, skyscraper stilettos and wonder in what world those types of people existed. It certainly wasn’t my world. The closest I had come to the glamorous world of modelling was when the tallest girl in class appeared in the local Fields catalogue and autographed copies of her advertisement at recess everyday for a week.
But Linda and her cool group of svelte, sexy sidekicks lived a life I hadn’t even dared to imagine. Travelling around the world; wearing clothes that seemed to belong more in a museum than a closet; going to fancy parties with actors and musicians and making more money for standing around and looking pretty than I ever knew was possible. The clothes they wore were valued like works of art and symbolized the ability to express yourself, to make a clear and definitive statement about how you felt and who you were without saying a word.
I became more and more obsessed with supermodels as they began to infiltrate every media. They were selling me Crystal Pepsi, L’Oréal hair colour, Revlon makeup, Yves Saint Laurent perfume, Versace jeans, Escada coats, Capezio bags. I couldn’t afford everything they were selling but I bought what I could and collected their ad campaigns like hockey cards keeping them filed away in a precious binder that housed all my glamorous fantasies.
While I was still unbearably shy when it came to speaking up or even just coming forward; I began to take liberties with my clothes that expressed how I was feeling without even having to mumble a Hello. I wore head to toe black when I had been listening to a bit too much Soundgarden. I wore yellow, red and green when I was feeling the African power from listening to KRS -1 and Public Enemy. I wore skirts when I was feeling pretty. I wore bodysuits when I was feeling sexy (and my Mother wasn’t paying attention). It’s not like I was anywhere near the same league as the catwalks queens, but I definitely felt we were all playing the same game. And that was enough for me.
Pick up the October issue of FLARE to read the essays of the winner and first runner up.
Subscribe to FLARE Need to Know for smart, sassy, no-filter takes on everything you're interested in—including style, culture & current events, plus special offers—sent straight to your inbox each day.
Sign up here.