NY Fashion Week: Back to '90s Grunge

Designers at New York Fashion Week are channeling slacker-era Seattle’s unruly fashion with an affectionate tribute to all things grunge. The autumn/winter ’11 shows are “haute off the street” with a Nirvana-style revival that hints at another whiff of teen-spirit in the air. All too reminiscent of the early ’90s inspired trend, this prevailing motif suggests that every step forward yields one step back.

Marc Jacobs first introduced the grunge aesthetic to the runway with his spring/summer ’93 collection for Perry Ellis’ ready-to-wear womenswear line. While Seattle’s unkempt alternative artists like Nirvana and Pearl Jam became commercially successful, Jacobs translated their anti-fashion in plaids, thermals and loose fitting dresses. Ana Sui also paid homage to the trend’s apparel trifecta with a collection of ’70s print frocks paired alongside army fatigue jackets. At the time, Jacobs and Sui’s vagabond-chic pieces captured the beauty of what might have otherwise seemed like an identity crisis amid Doc Marten-stomping teen culture.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is now taking us back to that bygone era as designers channel a new interpretation of grunge chic. ADAM’s collection featured black lace tees over plaid skirts and prom-esque tulle dresses with chunky socks and high heels, while Thakoon took to the plaid parade with a red and blue puffer bustled and set atop skirts with pants. Joseph Altuzarra found a place for army parkas and dresses to coexist in his Kate Moss-inspired collection of classic bomber jackets and t-shirt dresses sprinkled in fringe and beading.

Neon infused graphic prints were captivating at both Edun and Libertine, while designers like Chris Benz and Daryl K used black mesh, leather and velvet to poke at grunge texture. Y-3 and Rag & Bone walked to the beat of ’70s mod styles with braided hair and utilitarian outerwear like varsity jackets and trenches. Lastly, Alexander Wang and Richard Chai Love mixed grays, blacks and neutrals with layers and tailored jackets over long skirts. All quintessential elements of the ’90s grunge-glam cool of Seattle’s finest fashion.

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