'Heroin Chic' and minimalist appeal back in vogue? Ravi Philemon.


Back in fashion – The 90s

Ravi Philemon

THE NINETIES were dark.

It popularised the ‘heroin chic’ look, which was characterized by pale skin, dark circles underneath the eyes and jutting bones.  Models that popularised the ‘heroin chic’ look like Kate Moss stood in direct contradiction to the healthy and vibrant looking models of the time like Cindy Crawford.

Various well known publications, called the ‘heroin chic’ look “nihilistic vision of beauty” and a “cynical trend”.  Even President Clinton decried the ‘heroin chic’ look by saying, “You do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes”.

The 90s not only glamorised the ‘heroin chic’ look, it also glorified the minimalist style. It all started in 1989, when the then little-known leather accessories company, Prada from Milan in Italy, introduced a new clothing collection with simple, understated designs to the public.

The minimalist designers used many high-tech fabrics and gave them colours like beige, gray and black, which were neutral.

Suddenly the simple, understated, ‘minimalist’ style became the rage in fashion.

Even Time magazine wrote about this minimalist phenomenon which suddenly exploded into the fashion scene and called it “understated art”, which is “unassertive, combining traditional good manners and an ultra-modern industrial sleekness”.

TOC Lifestyle interviewed Sabrina Goh who owns the label ‘Elohim’ for this article. Sabrina who was inspired to go ‘minimalist’ by her architecture draughtsman father says being minimalist is about, “structured, forms, androgynous, symmetrical and asymmetrical silhouette designs (and) using the colours, cutting, different textures of fabrication to contrast matt and shine, unexpected details and silhouette”.

Sabrina graduated from LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts and is one of the young designers showcased in Audi Fashion Festival 09 Blueprint featuring Blackmarket fashion shows. She has celebrity clients like Felicia Chin, who wore Sabrina’s label in Fashion Asia variety show at Channel U. The 2nd collection under Sabrina’s minimalist label is called ‘Control Freak’.

Even though the ‘heroin chic’ look is still not in vogue (although some designers still wish it was), the minimalist looks have come back with a bang in this fall’s fashion trends.

So, go ahead! Choose from the palette of black, white or grey and then kick it up with a hint of plum, citrus or pink. Then, let that hint of colour shine through by adding a pair of plain-coloured boots and handbag.

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