Model Claudia Schiffer in 1990.
Season: 2 Episode: 3
Title: Spring ’90
Original Airdate: 2/17/90
Appearances: Claudia Schiffer, Giorgio Armani, Pam Hogg
RISE OF THE SUPERMODEL: CLAUDIA SCHIFFER
Model Claudia Schiffer at the French ’Vogue’ shoot in 1990.
Looking into the 19-year-old face of Claudia Schiffer is a weird experience. Especially when you consider that we meet her, in this segment, before she becomes a megastar and a major player in the supermodel industrial complex. Cindy even refers to her as the “Guess Jeans girl,” and the qualifier seems crazy since it’s been three decades, countless magazines, myriad billboards and miles of catwalk since this unknown from Dusseldorf starred in a black-and-white advertising campaign shot in Tennessee by the model-turned-photographer Ellen Von Unwerth.
This moment, captured in Paris during a French Vogue shoot, is right at the point when Schiffer’s been “chosen” (cue harp strumming and singing cherubs) by The Editors and The Photographers, but before she’s become a household name. It also makes one realize how infrequently we hear Claudia speak. It’s not disappointing or incongruous at all (it’s horribly jarring when that happens [see: David Beckham]). Turns out, she has a pleasant voice and a lilting German accent.
We see the Guess campaign shots: Claudia is the spit-and-image of Brigitte Bardot, except that she wears high-waisted faded blue jeans (mom jeans or irono hipster-lady jeans by contemporary standards). In March 2012, Guess re-released some of the original images to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the last of Claudia’s six campaigns. The iconic photos are presented alongside a new series shot in Italy and it’s clear that Claudia lacks the decency to age like a regular human. You can’t really tell the difference because the appalling woman remains as taut and fresh-faced as ever.
In fact, Schiffer may have improved over the years. She confesses how nervous she was to walk for Chanel (her turns featured a cute, veering/speedy finish). She spins, bounces and smiles sheepishly. Even with the benefit of hindsight bias, it’s unsurprising that Claudia remains famous so many years later. It’s amusing, also, that Cindy’s voice-over speculates as to the new girl’s staying power, musing about where she’ll be in ten years. “Married or going to school,” Claudia responds. “Have kids or something like that. What everybody does.” Ooooooooor there is always the option of becoming spectacularly famous.
DEMOCRATIZING FASHION: GIORGIO ARMANI CREATES THE EMPORIO ARMANI DIFFUSION LINE
Designer Giorgio Armani on his new line Emporio Armani in 1990.
Giorgio Armani has always known exactly what he was doing. He has also always worn a tight black T-shirt in interviews. There’s something about the translator, and about the look of Mr. Armani’s face as a younger man, that make the interview feel a bit distant, especially since it sounds like he’s relaying schemes of world domination. Thing is, you can’t help but respect the Giorgio Armani brand for their diffusion strategy. Were you to chart the differences between Armani Exchange, Emporio Armani, Armani Collezioni (white label) and Giorgio Armani (black label), you’ll see the entire low-high spectrum, most notably how each level caters to different, specific customers across all ages and price-points. Don’t know about you, but this stuff really blows my skirt up.
In this segment, Mr. Armani discusses the recent launch of Emporio Armani (150 stores worldwide, with one in Manhattan at the time) and how it was created to be less expensive and youth-oriented. The runway footage selected to support this notion of a younger line rings sorta hilarious in 2012, since in 1990, most people, regardless of age, dressed like a 35-year-old tycoon. There are incredible double-breasted blazers that are streamlined due to their narrow lapels, with low-slung plackets and prints. The key here is the addition of logo tees and underwear, which was fantastically on-point for kids since this was a time when conspicuous aspirational branding was HUGE within youth culture. (Hello Calvin Klein).
It’s also genius that Armani discusses jeans, since it was a notable statement for anyone to send denim down the runway in Europe. Armani pushes the envelope further by showing a topless model. “I wanted the jeans to be the focus,” he says. “I like to entice and tease my customers with different variation on jeans, like how the kids on the streets personalize theirs. American youth has a great sense of style.” The man knows exactly to whom he was talking. Armani further differentiates Emporio from his other collections by pointedly steering clear of big-name girls:“I never use supergirls in my Emporio shows. The clothes should be the star… not the models.”
+ WATCH THE START OF EMPORIO ARMANI
STREET STYLE: LONDON
Designer Pam Hogg in 1990.
We weren’t able to clear this segment due to music clearance issues, but I thought I’d touch upon it, since it features a rare interview (OK, more like three quotes) with Pam Hogg. And yes, I just really wanted the chance to talk about her because she rules and people should know about her. For the uninitiated, Pam Hogg is legendary on the London street style scene: look up her store, Hyper Hyper. Since 1990, she’s dressed Rihanna, Lily Allen, Siouxsie Sioux, Kylie Minogue, Jessie J, and Kate Moss, the last of whom wore a Hogg dress to last year’s NME awards. Hogg’s totally badass and has achieved full-fledged cult status in England; she’s also a director, screenwriter, actress and musician.
In this segment, Hogg’s in her store, rocking blonde dreadlocks; a floppy, furry animal-print hat; and a studded leather jacket with enormous, exaggerated lapels, AND THICK CHAIN FRINGE (suuuuuch a good idea, someone steal this and mass produce it right now [please don’t talk to me about Balmain because I said “THICK” chain fringe and “mass produce”]); a ring tee; and a bunch of mixed silver and gold rings, with crucifixes dangling from her neck. Hogg offers this sage style advice: “It’s the attitude in who’s wearing the thing. I mean, some people can wear flares and look absolutely ridiculous, and other people know why they’re wearing them and they’ll last forever. It’s not a case of one thing is in and one thing is out…If you’re sensible and know the way you can actually dress, you can wear anything.” Preach.
The interview is interspersed with man-on-the-street interviews of kids running around Kings Cross and Camden Market. It’s notable for the style time capsule because we’re seeing flared, light blue jeans, hoodies, hats, MCM monogram, motorcycle jackets, overalls, oversized denim jackets, Dr. Martens and a Boy London T-shirt. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same stuff you’ve been seeing a resurgence of this year. Seriously, Boy London is EVERYWHERE right now (see: Rihanna photos and logo leggings at Patricia Field with T-shirts at The Cobrasnake store). Aaaaaaaand, speaking of Boy London, you should probably know that Boy London isn’t ’90s but a throwback to the 1970s, when Stephane Raynor first founded the fashion label for the punks and new romantics of the day. Much of the style feels surprisingly fresh. The hot-guy salesman in a skull scarf (classic Alexander McQueen much?) and a Native American patterned poncho would look divine on New York streets today. And by “today” I mean later this year since it is unseasonably hot this summer. Something, something global warming frowny face.