Grunge, Catwalks & Airports: 1991 Fashion Trends

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1991 fashion trends including cindy crawford, kurt cobain, naomi campbell

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The year was 1991, a great year to be alive, the internet was making strides, and Nirvana released the iconic album ‘Nevermind’. The 80’s were well gone and youth fashion was transforming into the depths of popular grunge

1991 was a great year for films, especially kid’s movies. Eternal cinematic gem (an underrated one) ‘Hook’ was released, as were ‘Beethoven’, ‘The Addams Family’, and ‘The Beauty and the Beast’. High fashion runways were jam-packed with the supermodels, with Versace, Chanel, and Dior thrilling the “frow” with uber-glam designs.

Here are our favorite fashion looks from 1991, from the screen, the studio, the streets, and the runway. 

Cindy Crawford’s red dress at the Academy Awards 

Cindy Crawford, arguably one of the most beautiful women of all time, was all the rage in the early 90s and for very obvious reasons. Cindy turned up to the 1991 Academy Awards with to-be husband Richard Gere in a red Versace sheath gown that further solidified her as a fashion and beauty icon. 

The dress featured a sweetheart neckline with a very low plunge, halter, low back, and a very high thigh split. In true 90s style, Cindy wore pale stockings and chunky black heels, choices that would likely be seen as a little stuffy or old-fashioned today. 

Cindy’s hair was full 90s, with big, bouncy waves and raised roots, and her makeup was smoky-yet-natural. We love the in-your-face glamour of this look: red, skin, slinkiness, sex-appeal, all tied up with a shade of demureness. 

Try it: 

  • Deconstruct the look for every day with a halter-style red bodysuit worn with high-waisted straight-leg trousers, black pumps, and a cropped leather jacket
  • Look for a red midi-dress with a low back and plunging V-neckline, and pair with heeled biker ankle boots for a night out
  • Blow-wave your hair with a volumizing product, line your lips with a deep nude liner, and buff a neutral brown shadow onto the upper and lower lash lines 

Eclectic grunge, Nirvana style 

One of the most influential albums of the 1990s was Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, released in September 1991 (their second studio album after 1989’s ‘Bleach’). Not only did this solidify the Seattle Grunge sound of the 1990s, but it presented the grunge look to the masses. 

The 1991 Nirvana look was decidedly “normal” at its core, with blue jeans, tees, cardigans, sweaters, cord jackets, polos, and Converse. Denim was ripped, knitwear was ragged, and hair was long and floppy (and sometimes pink). The look (whether curated or not) personified young guys and girls the world over, who jammed in basements and lived in their threads for days on end. 

Try it:

  • Pick through your wardrobe and find your oldest and most-loved gems, whether they be jeans or an old tee from your highschool drama club. Layer them with lived-in knitwear don’t be afraid to clash colors and textures 
  • Grunge-ify your going-out attire by layering an oversized cord jacket over a shirt dress with ripped black skinny jeans and heeled lace-up boots 

Read: 80s vs 90s Music: There’s Has to be Only One Winner

Versace’s iconic runway show: babydoll dresses and supermodels 

Picture Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Cindy Crawford stomping the runway lip-synching George Michael’s “Freedom”. They’re wearing mini babydoll dresses in block colors, with sheer tights and smoky eyes. This unforgettable moment happened at the Fall/Winter 1991 Versace show and showed off the other-worldly beauty and power of the 90s supermodel elite. 

The dresses were girly yet sexy, and something the “average” woman could see herself wearing. They were simple yet nuanced with narrow-cut straps, sweetheart necklines, and soft, flippy hems. 

Note: I also have to give a shout out to the 1991 Versace Spring Ready-to-Wear look consisting of mini shift dresses with matching stockings and heels, in rich yellow, pink, green, and blue. It was like a 1960s-meets-space-age candy store of fashion. Not to mention the polka-dot pants with graphic blazers and embellished belts. 

Look, I could write a thousand pages on the beauty and fun of Versace’s 1991 shows so I’ll stop here. Check out the Spring 1991 show images here

Try it: 

  • Try a few mini dresses to find the silhouette that suits you best. Tall, willowy ladies would look stunning in 60s-style shift dresses, while curvier women would look beautiful in skater dresses cinched the waist and gently flaring or floating over the hips
  • Layer with opaque stockings for winter, and elevate yourself with heeled booties 
  • Channel 1991 Versace exuberance with bright, graphic tights and a cropped jacket in a matching color story 
  • Strut like Naomi and own your beauty!  

“Airport fashion”, Cindy Crawford in jeans, a turtleneck, leather, and bare face

We’re referring back to our 90s queen Cindy Crawford once more, with her “airport” look comprising blue jeans, a brown belt, brown leather boots, black turtleneck, and black leather jacket. The “airport” look was highly popular in the 90s, as it is now, as it was a snapshot into the “off-duty” lives of high-profile celebrities. Cindy’s look was timeless, all you need is to adjust the cut and accessories and you’ve got a killer contemporary casual outfit. 

  • Layer high-waisted straight-leg jeans over a V-neck black bodysuit with a black or brown leather belt. Wide-leg or flared jeans are great for adding a 70s retro silhouette 
  • Pair with Cuban-heeled black or brown leather Chelsea boots 
  • Veer away from the popular leather moto-jacket and try a leather or suede blazer-style jacket or even a cropped leather trench 
  • Brush your brows, smudge brown kohl into the upper lash line, and walk with purpose (like Cindy rushing to catch a flight)