In the early 1990s fashion underwent a dramatic change as recession hit. The eighties trappings of luxurious excess were anathema when many were calling for a change in consciousness, less ‘greed is good’, more eco-aware. In an era dubbed New Age, spirituality, sensitivity and eco-awareness found echo in fashion in the form of minimalism, a pared down style spear-headed by Rifat Ozbek’s White Collection and the Sassoon White Winter Collection both launched in 1990. A new naturalism entered hair and the experimental effects of the eighties were rejected in favour of easy-to-care for wearable, styles that found expression at Sassoon in the Natural Effects Collection of 1990. The idea of versatility pervaded fashion with many designers creating capsule collections in which clothing items could be mixed and matched in a myriad of ways saving the need to buy too much clothing at the expense of the environment. International Creative Director Tim Hartley’s Wrap cut of 1991 was a perfect fit based on Diane von Furstenberg’s classic jersey wrap dress of 1974. The hair was cut shorter through the sides and left longer on the top so that it could be ‘wrapped’ about the head in a variety of ways, an innovation further explored in the concept of Convertibles or ‘modular’ haircuts whose internal cutting and colour placement meant that the look could be changed just by parting the hair.
In the USA, Seattle spawned the freewheeling music scene of grunge and its anti-fashion aesthetic was mined by Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis whose plaid work-wear, print tea-dresses and heavy boots photographed by Stephen Meisel for American Vogue’s Grunge and Glory shoot of 1992 were a huge influence. The Ragga aka Ragamuffin Collection of 1991 anticipated this lo-fi ramshackle look with its textured fringes, unstructured perms and layered silhouettes inspired by London street style .
The rise of Girl Power as promoted by the Spice Girls in the mid 1990s marked a change in fashion. Grunge’s natural ‘undone’ feel was supplanted by a highly charged look that combined bright body con shapes, sky-high Buffalo trainers and shorter, shiny hair. Sassoon’s Bad Girl Glamour of 1995 and Vinyl of 1998 used bold hi-shine Crazy Colour in combination with strong shapes to striking effect.