Cindy Crawford in Episode 1 of ’House of Style’ wearing Azzedine Alaia in 1989.
Season: 1 Episode: 1
Title: Summer Fashion (Series Premiere)
Original Airdate: 6/2/89
Appearances: Salt N’ Pepa, Spinderella, Gael Love (Fame magazine), Kurt Andersen (Spy Magazine), E. Graydon Carter (Spy magazine), Jane Pratt (Sassy magazine), Stephen Saban (Details magazine), Herb Ritts, Winona Ryder
MUSIC AND FASHION: SALT-N-PEPA AND SPINDERELLA MODEL SUMMER LOOKS
Salt-N-Pepa wearing Betsey Johnson in 1989.
For the kick-off segment to the series, we’ve got Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella modelling summer looks to their own music and hamming it up something spectacular. It is as fantastic as you’d expect. Cheryl and Sandra have remained relevant throughout the years—we’ve seen them disband, star in a reality TV show for VH1, regroup and perform on The X Factor—so this is one of those “DAMN, these ladies were young in 1989!” moments. They aren’t quite media-trained yet, and that’s not a dig: You can tell they don’t know what their faces look like onscreen and their voice overs are extra earnest. They dance-model with gusto and they’re easygoing about the multiple outfit changes and the lo-fi appeal of the backdrop since most of the fashion show happens in a Mexican restaurant. Literally. As in, with sombrero wallpaper.
The labels range from Katharine Hamnett to Damsels in Distress and from Bryan Early to Betsey Johnson, and Stussy. It’s notable how contemporary recording artists are so conscious of fashion and labels, yet you can sorta tell that Salt, Pepa and Spin aren’t completely familiarized. You get to actually watch Salt discover and fall in love with Betsey Johnson clothes during the shoot. If only we could have been a fly on the wall to watch a young Katy Perry put on head-to-toe Jeremy Scott for the first time, or Lady Gaga try on Mugler. That moment of fashion quickening is always wonderful to witness.
+ WATCH SALT-N-PEPA AND SPINDERELLA MODEL
POP CULTURE AND FASHION: RISE OF THE LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE
’Spy’ magazine editors E. Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen in 1989.
Here’s where House of Style gets “television news-magazine”-ish. In this trend piece on the proliferation of style magazines (“style” here denotes “lifestyle” in contemporary parlance), we speak to Gael Love, Editor-In-Chief of Fame. This is a lady who notoriously arrived at the office at 4:00pm to leave at 8:00pm, had previously worked at Interview and was glibly mentioned in Andy Warhol’s diaries. No big deal. After Fame folded in 1991 and several subsequent editorial ventures were dissolved, Love went on to pursue a law degree — a sabbatical from publishing that’s notable for the fact that she also worked part-time at a Chanel store. Hello employee discount.
Another beloved magazine, Spy also ended up folding, and there have been buyouts, relaunches and a coffee table book on the subject since then, but seeing as this is 1989, Spy is green, ruthless and making a huge splash within NYC and L.A. media circles. Hollywood hated them. It was great. Here we talk to a young Kurt Andersen and E. Graydon Carter (the “E” has since been lopped off). They’re so hungry and their eyes glitter with ambition and you can just tell they’re the cool kids of the bunch.
If you’re not familiar with Spy, you should search the Internet for vintage issues and rando scans because it’s one of the funniest magazines in the history of words. Full stop. In this clip, Andersen (who is now a Peabody-award winning radio host and novelist) is wearing dad/Jerry Seinfeld jeans and what appears to be a Gap flannel. He’s got wonderful, floppy, rich-guy hair, and despite looking unassuming, he says evil things like “People ask us, ‘Why don’t you have articles that celebrate people?’ Because that’s not what we do.” Chilling.
Carter, the leonine EIC of Vanity Fair wears a blazer (single-breasted; probably Anderson & Sheppard [a Savile Row tailor he’s since written a book about]) a spread collar shirt with French cuffs (obvi), patterned tie (with a tiny knot [also obvi]), a V-neck sweater and a pocket square. Though Spy would pack it in in 1998, the two would leave in 1991, terming their tenure “The Funny Years.”
Next, we have an interview with Jane Pratt AS A BRUNETTE *thunder clap*. If you’re not familiar with Jane, you’re doing it wrong. She was the creator and EIC of Sassy, a magazine that love-fried everyone’s brains because it was a dazzling girls’ magazine that talked like your best friend (FINALLY) on any topic, even the dicey ones like suicide, AIDS, and drugs. It also had the best sex advice that was honest and non-judgey and it kills me dead that it doesn’t exist anymore. Pratt would go on to launch Jane magazine and the site xojane.com. Oh, and she has blonde hair now. And her eyebrows look different.
Next up: the original Details, which is not anything like the Details you see on newsstands these days. In 1989, Details was an NYC journal that chronicled the goings-on of the city’s underground scene. Here, we interview Stephen Saban, a nightlife reporter, but those of you who have any concept of OG Details probably know it from the documentary about New York Times fashion photography LEGEND Bill Cunningham. Cunningham used to work at Details, and there’s this whole part in the film about how he never once cashed a check from them (not even when it was sold for many, many boatloads of dollars) because he loved the creative freedom of working for free because it granted him license to print his stories at whatever length he chose. Of course, I would’ve tried to hustle the power and the money but it’s because I’m a bad person and he is a unicorn saint.
Bonus Easter egg: This episode aired SO LONG AGO that it recounts the firing of 17-year veteran American Vogue EIC Grace Mirabella, and never once mentions by name the woman who succeeded her—Anna Wintour. I guess she’d yet to prove herself at the helm, which she has since done (understatement). Love you Anna! Never change!
+ WATCH STYLE MAGAZINES
POP CULTURE AND FASHION: GAP’S FAMOUS AD CAMPAIGN
Photographer Herb Ritts in 1989.
This segment runs through the origin story of the San Francisco label and its creator, Don Fisher, but then moves on to profile Millard “Mickey” S. Drexler, the creative director, who in 1983 enlisted the help of 20 fashion designers to create capsule collections that changed Gap’s brand positioning from the chain store that peddled fuddy-duddy khakis to purveyors of vibrant, relevant and trendy staples. Currently Drexler is the chairman and CEO of the J.Crew group and a director at Apple Inc. because clearly he is a retail genius.
The capsule collections are shown briefly and feature over-dyed espadrilles, floral canvas weekenders and gingham satchels that would all be at home on a display in J.Crew today. There are also racks upon racks of denim overalls, which are so having another moment this fall. The part of the story that’s memorable for the fash crowd is how they hired photographers Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel and Herb Ritts to create a black-and-white campaign for print and billboard. Some of you will be too young to remember, but they were these sexy portraits of celebrities and regular folk, each wearing a Gap article incorporated into their regular wardrobe. The one of Jackie Joyner-Kersee in a white sleeveless tee and white underwear with sleek muscles rippling is captivating, mostly because it was an accessible garment shot in a high-fashion way on a gorgeous athletic physique. It was pure art.
DEMOCRATIZING FASHION: HOW TO HACK FRENCH STYLE
Actress Winona Ryder shares her opinion of French style in 1989.
It’s the Bienniale! Well, at least it was when this segment aired, which means that 1989 marked the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. To commemorate the occasion, HOS kicked it Francophilic. We look at Chanel suits and… well… knock them off. It’s hilarious that a television show would teach you how to hack Chanel but then again House of Style frequently thumbed their nose at straitlaced fashion programming. Speaking of hilarious, there’s also this absurd-wonderful moment, without any explanation, where we catch up with Winona Ryder on the set of a video shoot and she’s wearing a wedding dress with a veil and says, “French is very chichi to me…big lips and little dresses.” She smiles goofily in a way that makes her the most beautiful woman in the world and I just really wanted to point it out so we could talk about how she dated Johnny Depp and then later Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and then Matt Damon when her bestie Gwyneth Paltrow was dating Ben Affleck because I can’t be the only one storing such useless information in my head. Right?
+ WATCH FRENCH STYLE
POP CULTURE AND FASHION: “THE LOVE BALL”
OK, so we have no footage of this because we couldn’t clear squat and we only ran it momentarily with the end credits BUT I’d like to high-five series creator Alisa Bellettini for covering the first Love Ball. This was the year former boutique owner, bon vivant, and nightlife doyenne Susanne Bartsch presented the very first Love Ball at Roseland ballroom. Specifically, this is the moment “Voguing” reached the masses (VERY important). Amongst the attendees were Superstar DJ Keoki, Michael Musto (Village Voice), Stephen Saban (Details), Picnic Smith, Steve Rubell (co-owner of Studio 54), Lady Miss Kier and DJ Dmitry (Deee-Lite), RuPaul, Katy K, The Lady Bunny (infamous drag queen), Kim Hastreiter and Mickey Boardman (Paper), Keith Haring, Michael Alig (currently incarcerated for murdering fellow club kid Angel Melendez, which is covered in the documentary and film, Party Monster), Andre Leon Talley, Tony Award winner (and former Mrs. Bob Fosse) Gwen Verdon, Paris DuPree (as in Paris Is Burning), video artist Nelson Sullivan, Chic composer and guitarist Nile Rodgers, and filmmaker David Byrne. Major. The Love Ball has raised millions in the fight against AIDS. Dear Internet: I NEED a three-part documentary series on this subject please. Thank you.