I grew up in the 90s so the movie Clueless starring Alicia Silverstone, Stacy Dash, and the late Brittany Murphy is probably the earliest fashion movie memory that I have. I thought it was so incredible how Cher had this gigantic revolving closet and computer program that helped her put her school outfits together! Even though I didn't get a lot of the adult references and sexual innuendos at the time (I was 8 when this movie cam out) and how it still bothers me that she ended up with her step brother, played by Paul Rudd, [eww, incest] the costume design of the movie was pretty memorable. Who can forget that yellow plaid ensemble with knee high white stockings and furry backpack she wore in the opening scenes of the movie?! That outfit leaves a pretty lasting impression just like the 'Whatever' and 'As If' catch phrases of the time. Oh come one, admit it, you also did the 'W' for 'Whatever' hand signal too.
Long before we became obsessed with celebrity culture and years and years before blackberry, texting, and Internet shopping even existed, there was the 1990s fashion. Oh, how I remember it well.. scrunchies and velvet fabric. Whose idea was that?! I think the only pieces that survived that era were denim and plaid and even the cut and fit of the jeans back then were so unflattering. The words mom jeans comes to mind when I think of 90s fashion [*shudders] If we learned anything from the 80s, everyone makes fashion mistakes. Anna Wintour put it well when she said that "fashion is about looking forward and not back."
But just like any movie set in a particular time frame, the costume design of the characters was very relevant to that era. The clothes in movies are highly influenced by the fashion of the time and vice versa. The relationship between fashion and films is as interchangeable and ancient as time itself. So what can we derive from the costume design in the movie Clueless and the year 1995 when it was first released? For starters the 90s was a time when consumers were just beginning to become obsessed with labels. Who could forget the red Alaia dress Cher wore to the party at Travis's house in the valley or the white Calvin Klein number she wore to her first night out with Christian? This was one of the first movies that I remember which acknowledged designer labels and expensive shops and department stores. It was set in California after all, the home of Hollywood and Rodeo Drive.
So now that I'm old enough to appreciate the humor and fashion mishaps in this movie, let's take a look back at Mona May's (the movie's costume designer) work. Cher and Dionne's styles were definitely resonant of the California cool fashion with their own twist of a west coast preppy flair, especially with all of the plaid and argyle patterns. Let's just hope that the velvet fabric stays in the 90s too. I've had way too many Christmas dresses when I was growing up made in that horrible fabric. Never again.