The Victoria & Albert Museum in their “Introduction to 20th-Century Fashion” writes of this period:

“The Japanese designer, Issey Miyake, shows an interesting combination of influences in the 1990 dress `Rhythm Pleats’. The fine pleating is reminiscent of Fortuny. However, the choice of fabric (a hi-tech polyester and linen mix which is baked in an oven to set the pleats) means that the garment forms angular, sculptural shapes on the body, rather than clinging to it as the Fortuny does. The lack of concern with revealing the body and the simplicity of the basic shape – when laid out flat the dress forms a rectangle – are evidence of East Asian traditions.

In the 1990s fashion design became increasingly diverse. Christian Lacroix’s bridal gown from 1993 combined ideas from the seventeenth-century Spain of Velazquez’s Las Meninas with gypsy sources. A Paul Smith suit mixed flamboyant patchwork fabrics from Afghanistan with 1950s tailoring, while a Helen Storey ensemble revealsed modern street and sportswear influences mixed with ethnic-inspired embroidered decoration. It used modern stretchy Lycra fabrics as well as leather.”

Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow at the 68th Annual Academy Awards

Fig. 1 - Photographer unknown. Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow at the 68th Annual Academy Awards, 1996. Source: Pinterest


[To come…]



Historical Context

Wikipedia: 1990-1999
  • 1990 – Madonna creates a fashion sensation when she wears the notorious Jean Paul Gaultier corset during her Blonde Ambition World Tour. Vera Wang opens her own design salon in New York, featuring her trademark bridal gowns. Fashion models become increasingly successful and recognizable; the age of the supermodel begins.
  • 1991 – Vivienne Westwood wins the British Fashion Award for Designer of the Year.
  • 1991 – Rifat Ozbek’s all-white New Age collection is launched. It is viewed as a backlash against the 1980s and a spiritual new dawn for fashion at the beginning of a new decade. Nirvana releases its “Smells Like Teen Spirit” single, which is a big influence on “grunge” style.
  • 1992 – Marc Jacobs wins the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s award for Women’s Designer of the Year. He is later dismissed from Perry Ellis for designing a “Grunge” collection.
  • 1994 – Tom Ford becomes creative director of Gucci.
  • 1995 – Friends actress Jennifer Aniston debuts “the Rachel haircut.” It is copied around the globe.
  • 1996 – John Galliano begins as head designer at the House of Dior.
  • 1997 – The Fendi Baguette Bag emerges. It is the first of the designer “it bags” and becomes an overnight sensation.
  • 1997 – Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace is murdered outside his Miami Beach home; his sister Donatella Versace becomes head of design at Versace

Primary/Period Sources

Resources for Fashion History Research

To discover primary/period sources, explore the categories below.
Have a primary source to suggest?  Or a newly digitized periodical/book to announce?  Contact us!

Periodicals (Digitized)
The Harper’s Bazaar Archive (Subscription Required), n.d. https://www.proquest.com/products-services/Harpers-Bazaar-Archive.html.
Vogue Archive (Subscription Required), n.d. https://login.voguearchive.com.
Altman, Robert. Ready to Wear, 1994. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110907/.
Altman, Robert. The Player, 1992. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105151/.
Crowe, Cameron. Singles, 1992. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105415/.
Dahl, John. The Last Seduction, 1994. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110308/.
Ephron, Nora. You’ve Got Mail, 1998. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/.
Heckerling, Amy. Clueless, 1995. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112697/.
Kieslowski, Krzysztof. The Double Life of Veronique, 1991. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101765/.
Lee, Spike. Jungle Fever, 1991. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102175/.
Linklater, Richard. Slacker, 1991. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102943/.
Marshall, Garry. Pretty Woman, 1990. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100405/.
McTiernan, John. The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0155267/.
Mendes, Sam. American Beauty, 1999. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169547/.
Newell, Mike. Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109831/.
Schepisi, Fred. Six Degrees of Separation, 1993. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108149/.
Tarantino, Quentin. Pulp Fiction, 1994. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110912/.
Verhoeven, Paul. Basic Instinct, 1992. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103772/.

Secondary Sources

Also see the 20th-century overview page for more research sources... or browse our Zotero library.

“Introduction to 20th-Century Fashion,” October 18, 2012. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/i/introduction-to-20th-century-fashion/.
Cole, Daniel James, and Nancy Deihl. The History of Modern Fashion from 1850. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2015. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/900012311.
De La Haye, Amy, ed. The Cutting Edge: 50 Years of British Fashion, 1947-1997. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1997. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/647538874.
Evans, Caroline. Fashion at the Edge : Spectacle, Modernity & Deathliness. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/762377249.
Feldman, Elane, Valerie Cumming, and Robert Price. Fashions of a Decade. The 1990s. New York: Facts on File, 1992. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/647830971.
Jobling, Paul. Fashion Spreads: Word and Image in Fashion Photography since 1980. Dress, Body, Culture. Oxford: Berg, 1999. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/255091165.
McEvoy, Anne, and Kathy Elgin. Fashions of a Decade. The 1990s. New ed. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/72799436.
Mendes, Valerie D., and Amy De La Haye. Fashion since 1900. 2nd ed. World of Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2010. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/751457342.
Milbank, Caroline Rennolds, and Harold Koda. Fashion: A Timeline in Photographs: 1850 to Today. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc, 2015. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/905518225.
Muller, Florence, and Jane Burke, eds. Shock Wave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980s-90s. Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2016. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/967594464.
Nickerson, Camilla, and Neville Wakefield, eds. Fashion: Photography of the Nineties. Zurich: Scalo, 1996. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1008310411.
Seeling, Charlotte, Neil Morris, Ting Morris, and Karen Waloschek. Fashion, the Century of the Designer, 1900-1999. Cologne: Könemann, 2000. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/778990757.