Photographer Terry Richardson shoots rapper Lil’ Kim for ’Visionaire’ magazine in 1997.
Season: 9 Episode: 57
Title: Prom Edition
Original Airdate: 3/4/97
Appearances: Lil’ Kim, Terry Richardson, Nina Gordon (Veruca Salt), Louise Post (Veruca Salt)
MUSIC AND FASHION: TERRY RICHARDSON SHOOTS LIL’ KIM FOR ’VISIONAIRE’
I hate to harp on the nostalgia of revisiting House of Style, but can we please take a moment to proclaim how hot Lil’ Kim was? SO HOT. Never mind that she’s half-naked and FLOODED in a million dollars worth of diamonds for this Visionaire shoot, but the young rapper is bright-eyed and excited, which makes this footage extra major. Now, I’d like to direct your attention to Terry Richardson because he doesn’t look like Terry Richardson yet. Did you think that the photographer walked out of the womb in a buffalo plaid shirt, jeans, glasses and full facial hair with his thumbs up? I did.
It’s also exciting that this segment predates the term “bling bling” by two whole years so we don’t have to hear everyone who doesn’t listen to rap or even know who B.G. is repeat it uncontrollably in an annoying way. Yay!
+ WATCH LIL’ KIM WITH TERRY RICHARDSON
MUSIC AND FASHION: VERUCA SALT DOES PROM
Nina Gordon and Louise Post of Veruca Salt dress up for prom in 1997.
Prom is like the Seether: You can’t fight it. It doesn’t matter how cool and disaffected you are: If the prospect of getting dressed up in a shiny frock for a special, glamorous night with your friends does nothing for you, you’re probably dead inside. Sorry.
Anyway, the thing I love about Veruca Salt’s Louise Post and Nina Gordon doing this is that they’re both weirdly into it, and get progressively more into it despite how strange the lighting is for the whole operation. The ladies dress up in varying styles—animal-print slips from Jessica McClintock’s saucier side and black chiffon Anna Sui party dresses—and each take turns modeling while the other announces their arrival like a beauty pageant MC. There’s a scene where lipstick is smeared everywhere like a Soundgarden video, and a part where the ladies dance around in white satin gowns like brides gone wild. There’s plenty of great ’90s formalwear touches like chokers, chinoiserie, half-pony updos, bias-cut everything, and really complicated headgear with butterflies mounted on snippets of wire. They both look deranged as they jump around with guitars, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s every bit a YouTube video thrown together by bored besties who are playing dress-up, and the fact that it’s made by kickass, unselfconscious musicians from Chicago is why it rules.
+ WATCH VERUCA SALT MODEL
DEMYSTIFYING STYLE: SUSAN CIANCIOLO BREAKS DOWN THE PROM DRESS
Artist Susan Cianciolo creates anti-prom dresses in 1997.
I’d never seen this episode before and was extra-curious to see how it turned out when I read that House of Style had enlisted an artist to create three “anti-prom dresses” from salvaged and industrial materials that cost less than $100. There were too many qualifiers, too many buzzwords that signaled potential disaster, especially when thrown together in 1997. I have to be honest: I was half-expecting this to end up looking like Mugatu’s Derelicte collection, and I was wrong.
Susan Cianciolo is an extraordinary maker of things. She attended Parsons and spent time working with Kim Gordon on X-Girl before starting her own line, Run, in 1995. The first collection featured Chloë Sevigny in deconstructed clothes, and each subsequent collection (dubbed Run 2, Run 3 and so on) featured unusual, refreshing design details. Despite critical acclaim, Susan left fashion in 2001 to concentrate on other art forms, choosing to make commissioned couture only for select clients.
In 2006, Susan returned to fashion. That is, she returned to using textile as a medium with an exhibition with a denim company. Small collections have followed since, each incorporating an element of performance art. Susan’s interdisciplinary approach can be seen in her F/W 2011 collection, which was formatted and presented as a play.
I know I’m going on, but check out this fantastic article in Index magazine, with illustrator Dame Darcy reading her palm; she describes Susan’s design process as “hand-stitching everything to the point of dementia.” I want to properly set up why this video is cool, so here’s another great quote from a Vice interview by Jaclyn Hodes in 2008:
“All my work is draped for hours and hours. Exactly how it’s sitting on the body is the most important part of the dress, even after all the research and the hours of embroidery and beadings. I’ve spent weeks and weeks on some of the dresses doing the same things over and over. It’s all about finding out how it hits the body in just the way that’s complementary and beautiful. People have always said to me that the clothes are sexy and this could be why, because I’m always thinking so much about body shapes.”
I’m not certain how much footage there is in the world of Susan draping, but this one is targeted as a service piece for young people, which I find especially exciting. Susan narrates the entire process as she creates three distinct, beautiful dresses. She mutters in this rhythmic monotone, and it’s like watching a tiny, industrious bird with OCD as she builds a series of nests. While Susan winds ribbons of fabric and panels of vellum on the model, the suspense builds. With each added layer, we discover something new, and the impression of improvisation is a deception. There are multiple sketches, notes, and plans that accompany the process as the garment comes to fruition, and it’s like watching from the inside of Susan’s head if she were wearing an Iron Man helmet.
There are torn stockings, painted panels and cheesecloth. Excess pieces of fabric are tucked and tied away, and if I were an aspiring designer making a dress at the time, I would’ve found it empowering to watch real footage of a real artist making a profoundly romantic, imperfect dress. It’s a wonderful display of ingenuity and weirdness.
+ WATCH SUSAN CIANCIOLO’S ANTI PROM
MUSIC AND FASHION: PAT SMEAR AND KURT LODER GET ETIQUETTE LESSONS
Our special correspondant Pat Smear and MTV News anchor Kurt Loder learn etiquette lessons from the pearl-strung, stiff-haired Letitia Baldridge on the dos and don’ts of dining. Kurt looks hot in a tux and Pat looks fetching in a black turtleneck. They goof off, Pat smokes his face off and chucks his butt into his soup and the segment ends with the two men slow dancing.
+ WATCH ETIQUETTE LESSONS