Do you remember when Courtney Love punched Kathleen Hanna at Lollapalooza in 1995, supposedly over an off-comment made about Courtney’s alleged drug use during her pregnancy with Frances Bean? Ok, neither do I because — full disclosure – I was precisely five years old at the time. But that doesn’t stop me from caring about decades-old beef between the high priestess of riot grrrl and the queen of kinderwhore.
Courtney Love has been ubiquitous this year. She resuscitated her band, Hole, released a new album, Nobody’s Daughter, went on countless Twitter rampages and continues to make regular appearances on xojane.com, a women’s lifestyle site run by, yes, Jane Pratt of Sassy magazine aka the magazine that printed those pictures of Kurt and Courtney back in 1992.
Grunge is back, and there’s nowhere with a stronger inclination towards the grunge revival than the fashion world. Most notably, Jeremy Scott produced a nostalgic grunge collection (Fall 2012) that gave a nod to the 90s-obsessed Tumblr generation; bloggers who are preoccupied with adopting the fashion, music, and lifestyle choices of the early 90s alternative scene– even if they weren’t old enough to remember it. The collection featured gaudy rainbow metallic garments, Bart Simpson’s face, Lisa Frank-esque unicorns, and emoticons that belong in an AOL chatroom. The models had colourful hair, facial jewelry, and garish lipstick in what appeared to be an ode to Tumblr superstar Molly Soda. There has been discussion as to whether or not Jeremy Scott’s inspiration constitutes exploitation of the Tumblr aesthetic, much like the outrage over Marc Jacob’s grunge-inspired collection for Perry Ellis in 1992. Back then, making grunge clothes was enough to get you fired– now its everywhere.
Meadham Kirchoff is another haute purveyor of grunge; their Fall 2011 collection was inspired by the stiffness of Chanel and the rebellion of riot grrrl, and even featured a sweater with the image of a witch on a broomstick inside a heart shape directly ripped from Hole’s album art. Tavi Gevinson’s favourite band is Hole and has been photographed looking altogether too good wearing the sweater.
Months before his suicide, Kurt Cobain told journalist (and later, Nirvana biographer) Michael Azzerad that “when rock’n'roll is dead, the whole world’s gonna explode … it’s already turned into nothing but a fashion statement and an identity for kids to use as a tool.” But as much as I love Kurt, I find the grunge revival in fashion to be fun, and mostly harmless. It’s about looking ‘different,’ and is as much a trend now as the Mary-Kate and Ashley ‘boho’ look was a trend in 2004. It’ll go away soon and we can all shut up, but in the meantime I thought it would be fun to match up famous 90s-inspired fashion bloggers to the 90s bands they resemble most.
Tavi would be Nirvana, because she’s so fucking good and has mass appeal. Nirvana wrote classic hooks that everyone can sing along to and Tavi writes in an honest way that almost everyone can relate to. Both of them made it big time, but I’m banking Tavi will have greater longevity than Nirvana did because she’s not addicted to heroin and more self-aware about her success rather than self-loathing.
Arabelle Sicardi would be Hole. Arabelle and Tavi are best friends, which is the virtual equivalent to Kurt being married to Courtney. Arabelle also broke the mainstream, but maintains her authenticity, compromising her purple hair and queerness for no-one. Courtney Love was an unconventional beauty who wore lots of eye make-up and smeared red listick, Arabelle is unapologetically femme and runs a makeup blog called Powder Doom.
Meg Clark of Good Morning Midnight would be Bikini Kill, because they’re both so focused on political issues. In 2010, Clark wrote the unforgettable “Why Fashion is Worth Blogging About,” laying bare the importance of fashion in tackling misogyny and homophobia. Fashion gives you the power to present an image to the world, Kathleen Hanna claimed that power by starting a band. The personal is political, you guys.
Marlena of Self Constructed Freak would be Bratmobile, because she is sassy, punk, and cute at the same time. Lead singer Alison Wolfe often wore mary-jane shoes and polka dot dresses, but all that cuteness couldn’t tone down her wail. Marlena likes to wear frilly dresses and pastel colours, but her shaved head is seriously punk rock.
Meagan of LATTERSTYLE would be My Bloody Valentine because, well, she likes shoegaze. The heavy feedback and hazy vocals lend themselves well to the swirling, amorphous patterns she often wears. She even has a dress that resembles the album art for MBV’s 1991 magnum opus Loveless, so this one’s a gimme.
Zana Bayne, the leather princess behind Garbage Dress would be Big Black. The sound of Big Black is snarling and intimidating, and Zana’s uniform of black clothes and her handmade leather harnesses make a strong statement. She is unapologetic in her vision, and brutal in her execution– much like the terrifying, cathartic sound of Big Black.
Hannah Metz is Eric’s Trip, because she’s dreamy and Canadian. The vocals are soft and sweet atop the heavy guitars, reminiscent of the lace, handmade lingerie, and bleary photography on her blog Hannah and Landon. Plus, thay’re both Canadian ex-pats. Hannah is originally from Ottawa and now lives in New York City; Eric’s Trip is from Moncton, New Brunswick and was the first Canadian band ever signed to Sub Pop Records.
Isabel Slone is a Toronto-based fashion blogger and writer. Follow her on Twitter at @hipstermusings.