Justice for Romy and Michele!
Today I sat down to write about how films made between 1997-2001 have influenced current fashion.
If you were around in the 90’s you may have found yourself feeling a bit perplexed at the fashion making it big at the moment. Hot and happening teenagers (which I am no longer one of. It hurts but it’s the truth) seem to be dressing in a… familiar way.
Chunky platform trainers, half eye sunglasses, butt grazing pleated mini skirts and imitation maribou feathers are selling like hotcakes over on asos and boohoo. But I’ve definitely seen these before…
I have a theory that each teen generation looks back to 3-4 years before they were born for vintage inspiration. It works perfectly for me, an early 90’s baby obsessed with the late 80’s.
This theory also works well with the current teenagers giving me weird déjà vu on the high street. Current teenagers were born around 2000 (I know) meaning that we’re now moving into the age of the late 90’s providing vintage inspiration.
The 90’s being considered vintage is no new idea. Clothing with the Nirvana logo on has been everywhere for ages (early nineties icons). In more recent years the super 90’s sportswear brands of Kappa, Fila and Tommy Hilfiger have boomed back into the public eye (Mid nineties heroes). I’ve found it especially hard to digest the sportswear trend, as I remember it being the calling card of the smelly, disgruntled teens who skulked round corners at Christmas and birthday parties of my childhood. I’m not going to spend money on clothes that bitchy cousin Nellie was excited to get for Christmas ’96 (name changed to preserve family relations).
So now we are faced with the late 90’s and even early 00’s as inspiration for today’s fashion.
Is it ANY WONDER that things are looking loud!?
We’re talking the era of Reese Witherspoon’s Legally Blonde (2001) looks, the peak of the Spice Girl’s orthopaedic platform power in Spice world (1997) and Bianca’s tangerine tulle crop top prom dress in 10 Things I Hate about You (1999). It was a lawless time for fashion.
Luckily I was young enough to have all fashion sins from these times forgiven because there are MANY. Most involve BODY GEMS.
So I sat down today to cite some films which provide iconic looks from this era of fashion. Depending on your age it would have been a loving piece of nostalgia or a useful point towards inspiration sources.
I went back through films made during the late nineties and found many that I know and love and spent time recreating as a youngling (obviously I’m talking about Spice World here).
I came across Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997). I’ve always seen this film mentioned in lists, but never taken the time to watch it. It’s not a Legally Blonde or Clueless in terms of 90’s notoriety, but from what I could see, still provided some serious fashion moments. So in the name of fairness, I dedicated an hour and a half to this lesser known movie.
Oh. My. God.
This film is ICONIC.
I have changed my purpose in writing today, to do one thing alone, which is to convince as many people as possible to watch this magnificent piece of pop culture.
This movie follows two friends Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow- hi Phoebe!) two best buds living their best lives in L.A. They design outfits together, make them to wear out at the same club every night, where they dance together because there are no cute boys. I mean, it sounds like a great life.
However, once they find out about their High school reunion, they are forced to relive their awkward teenage years and asses their current lifestyle. My own personal version of hell.
I’m not going to spoil the film for you, but Romy and Michelle decide that they haven’t done well enough to impress the hot boy and mean girls that ruled High school, so come up with a scheme to present themselves as successful businesswomen.
Don’t get me wrong, this film is super silly. There are dream sequences, many flashbacks and forwards, some of the acting is questionable and it’s far from being an insightful character study. BUT…
I loved how this film captured the awkwardness of being in your twenties and worrying that everyone is doing more/ better than you. I am LIVING this truth and it warmed my heart to see Romy and Michele overcome their self-doubt and feel content with their lives.
This film carries such an important message of owning your personality, quirks and all and championing your friends. It’s not just a chick flick with good clothes, this is life-affirming stuff right here.
Now that I’ve mentioned the clothes, just believe me when I say they’re good, very good. Big colours, feathers and accessories. I’m certain many current fashion students would give a limb for the contents of the wardrobe shared by Romy and Michele. Dazzling.
It is an absolute outrage that this film isn’t watched or referenced as widely as other chick flicks from this era. Not only should teenagers be watching this film to absorb fashion pointers and the message of female friendship, those in their 20’s enjoying a post-uni identity crisis could really benefit from an afternoon with Romy and Michele.
If you can’t be bothered with the whole film, just watch the dance scene. Romy, Michele and the class nerd turned millionaire join in an interpretive dance scene that is nothing if not MAJESTIC. It feels like a cinematic fuck you to the whole idea of trying to ‘look cool’ and I am so behind that.
I will be contacting my gal pals at the earliest convenience to try and find a night to recreate that dance. London you have been warned.
Watch this movie, you’ll have a lot of fun and feel good about yourself to boot.