This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passing of one of my all-time favourite singers, Kurt Cobain. I was an awkward, nerdy 16 year old teen with no clue about fashion labels who felt I didn't fit in with conventional, commercial trends, the pretty girls in school or the traditional expectations of the time. Then along came this Seattle band whose sounds I could relate to, whose style was unconventional, unorganised, yet acceptable. It was officially ok to be a moody teenager.
I didn't care about labels or fashion and was ignorant to style in general - until grunge and anti-fashion became the new fashion, thanks to Nirvana. In the early 90's, Nirvana displaced Michael Jackson in the Billboard charts, a move that was inconceivable to most. 'We weren't on a mission, we just wanted to make a great record' says Dave Grohl on the Teen Spirit single. The iconic song, produced by Butch Vig, saw first time director Samuel Bayer hired due to his reel being so poor in quality that the band liked the authentic, punk and uncorporate feel to the look of what he would produce. The song and it's music video appealed to teens who didn't fit in. Kurt's message was for a specific group of tormented people and he wanted to reach them through music, making the Nevermind album somewhat of a perfect storm. On the Nevermind album, Grohl says that he 'hears a sense of purity and honesty that I haven't heard in a long time'.
That individuality and purity was lost for along time in fashion and business in general in Ireland. Although I have worked in corporate circles through the past decade, I have never succumbed to the uniformed, old fashioned approach of corporate dressing, which until very recently was without character, without personality and bland. I still have my Converse days at the office but if I'm meeting a client I dress appropriately. If I am presenting a show or attending a ball, I enjoy pulling out all the stops in the best evening wear I can find. I have given seminars on how corporate dressing has changed and in general, how first impressions do last, so I believe old fashions and old trends need to change to embrace the new generation who are filling our footsteps in the workplace. Nirvana changed the perception of perfection in the fashion industry in the 90's and it has lasted and grown stronger with time. Imperfection is perfection. And as the old saying goes, clothes do not make the man. I admire influential women in our industry such as Kelly Cuttrone, who has never fallen into the corporate or commercial fashion trap and although she is one of the most powerful women in Fashion PR in America, always dresses in plain black & flats. Here is a snapshot of how some of the world's biggest fashion houses have been influenced to this present day by the anti commercial message that made Nirvana and the grunge movement so iconic x
Dries Van Noten, Spring 2013
Marc Jacobs, Fall 2006
Max Mara, Fall 2014
Preen, Fall 2008