It’s a shame that Shane Meadows’ This Is England bids us farewell in 1990.
During the latest and last series of the hit Channel 4 show, there’s an acid-tinged shift in the sartorial tastes of the younger characters. Lol’s baby sister Kel and her peers shun the Fred Perry polos and drainpipes (favoured by the older members of the gang), adopting the new baggy, Madchester look instead.
But how would Kel and co’s style evolve as they made their way through the rest of the decade?
The real indie fashion icons of the 1990s emerged during two of the most important music movements of the time, grunge and Britpop, the latter being the natural progression for Kel and her bucket hat.
So let’s raise a bottle of Becks to some of indie’s unlikely fashion icons of the 90s and lament over the missed wardrobe opportunities…
Every girl wanted to snog Damon Albarn in the 90s. And so it was standard to dress like his one-time girlfriend and Elastica singer, Justine Frischmann. We don’t know if it was the dark floppy hair or Doc Martin boots that did it for him, but we’re betting her penchant for loosely-buttoned, tight-fitting black shirts certainly helped catch his eye. Could see Lol trading her peroxide and polo shirts in the mid-90s for this look.
Her signature bantu hairknots are currently enjoying a revival thanks to some 90s-obsessed Instagrammers, but the Icelandic songstress had some out-there looks during her heyday that could be imitated by few. She sang about Human Behaviour yet dressed like an animal, albeit a very pretty one. Rainbow bright feathers, pastel furs and cobalt eyeshadow were only a prequel to the now-infamous swan dress she wore to the Academy Awards in 2001.
She was the feminine face of grunge, with her flame-red hair, red lipstick and heavy-lined eyes. If Smell added some shiny, coloured PVC and tartan mini skirts to her all-black wardrobe circa 1995, this is probably what she’d look like.
The Sleeper singer was the ultimate fashion Inbetweener, treading the very narrow lad/ladette line with some typically androgynous 90s outfits. With her dark cropped hair featuring Geri-style blonde curtains, she was like a cool hybrid of Sporty and Ginger Spice, favouring Fila tracksuit tops and tight cropped vests. Girl power.
Before she morphed into a scarlet-lipped blonde bombshell, No Doubt’s lead singer was experimenting with bold fashion looks like bindis, braids and, er, braces (the metal ones that help hold your teeth, not your trousers, in place). And she nailed the mermaid hair look, with aqua, lilac and candy pink locks, before most of today’s fashion bloggers were born.
The TV and radio presenter would readily admit that her Britpop band Kenickie won’t be remembered for their music, but some of Lauren’s signature 90s looks are hard to forget. She may be my favourite Britpop fashion moment, with her platinum chopstick bun and satin Chinese dresses, topped with a healthy sprinkle of silver glitter eyeshadow.
Whether you think she was a glorified Nirvana groupie or one of the most important frontwomen of the 90s, there’s no denying that Courtney’s grunge goddess style was influential. Imagine Marilyn Monroe went on a night out, but forgot to bleach her roots. She has one too many drinks. Wakes up to discover her lipstick is smudged on her face, she’s forgotten to take her silk dress off and her sheer stockings are laddered. That’s kinda how Courtney rolled in the 90s.