Tag Archives: fashion

A Brief History of ’90s Makeup (Guest Post)

Uma Thurman rocking Chanel Vamp nail polish in 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Image from movietretriever.com

In the past week, the comments section has teemed with references to ’90s-specific products like Manic Panic hair dye, Revlon Blackberry lipstick and Vamp nail polish, so here is a timely submission from ’90s Woman Hillary Belzer, who wrote her thesis about Riot Grrrl. Her latest project is the Makeup Museum, which is devoted to examining cosmetics design and history. And here is what she says about ’90s makeup… 

Fashion trends, and by extension, beauty trends, are cyclical – usually about 20 years after the initial phenomenon began, it comes back in vogue and is slightly updated.  So it’s not surprising that the ’90s are making a comeback now.

Here I will look at the transformation the beauty industry underwent in the ’90s as a direct response to new notions women had about makeup.

In 1995, the L.A. Times quoted a beauty newsletter editor as saying, “The creativity the department stores had 10 years ago doesn’t exist today…the top five brands control 75% of the makeup business.”  Something had to give to meet the beauty needs of the ’90s woman, and it did. Continue reading


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So Out It’s In: The Brushpopper Shirt

Neal Medlyn in a '90s Wrangler Brushpopper, 2011.

I spend a lot of time reading fashion history books and looking around vintage clothing stores, so I see a lot of crazy, super-dated clothes. But when Neal Medlyn told me that for his birthday he wanted a Wrangler Brushpopper shirt, I thought it was probably as reclaimable as the Spanish farthingale.

The Brushpopper shirt (a discontinued line) is made of cotton, but coated so that it repels water and wind. This makes it feel rather like a canvas tarp, and gives it a slight sheen. They come in really strange, bright colors. Continue reading

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Things that Were Hot in ’90s NYC

The lists on the I Went to High School in NYC in the ’90s Facebook page are crazy familiar. Mostly I just hung out in bookstores, but I could relate to almost everything on there, like:

Free Cribs: Even if your moms wasn’t rich you knew some kid whose parents went somewhere every weekend. Me and my crew used to spend whole weekends at different girls’ cribs.


Chilling outside of Unique on Broadway.

Canal St. Jeans pins. Continue reading


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“Why Does the Humble Scrunchie Provoke Such Extreme Reactions?”

The artist and musician David Riley plays fashion historian and delivers a throughly delightful and informative lecture on the scrunchie in this video shot at the New Museum in 2010. Watch the whole thing here at DIS Magazine. Conspiracy theorists should pay special attention to the segment “Scrunchie: Witness to History.”

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Elizabeth Hawes’s Obscene 1968 Sweater

Someone should really re-pro this sweater from 1968. For those without access to a regulation phone keypad, the number spells out F-U-C-K-Y-O-U. This sweater is in the Met’s collection. There’s a great biography of the designer, Elizabeth Hawes, called Radical By Design. I am obsessed with her. She was a couture designer, union organizer, and best-selling author. Via Amazon Marketplace and eBay, I have been collecting her books, which all have awesome titles, like Why Women Cry: Or, Wenches With Wrenches. I venture she was a proto-’90s-woman, in that she was at once a radical feminist and comfortable-with-bordering-on-enthusiastic-about the male gaze.

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The Auteurs’ “Junk Shop Clothes”

When I was working at SPIN magazine in 1996, I found this tape (yes, a cassette tape) on the free table and listened to it until it wore out. For some reason I didn’t take offense, even though I wore nothing but junk shop clothes.  Continue reading

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Fancy Encyclopedia People Interview Us About ’90s Fashion

Lately I’ve been feeling so mainstream. The zines I read in 1994 are on view at the MoMa. Plaid and other ’90s fashions are in. I’m happy about who’s president. This must be how the Baby Boomers felt during the Clinton years.

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