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cindy crawford richard gere

Cindy Crawford interviews actor and boyfriend Richard Gere at the Gianni Versace AIDS Benefit in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Season: 3 Episode: 7
Title: Spring Edition
Original Airdate: 3/6/91
Appearances: Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Richard Gere, Gianni Versace, Sylvester Stallone, Betsey Johnson, Andre Leon Talley


This clip is a jewel, not only for its peek into the Versace archive at a time when the clothes were at the apex of mixed-print, bold-hued richesse, but because you get to hear Gianni talk (albeit briefly) about a cause that was important to him. For the Friends of AIDS benefit, Cindy and the supermodels descend upon Chateau Marmont for a Versace fashion show attended by the most A-list Hollywood types. Cindy does double-duty for the evening, shooting a segment (with a “Cindy Cam” while she’s backstage) for House of Style, and walking in the show. Maybe it’s because Gianni Versace was a personal favorite of mine, or perhaps because he died so tragically, but the footage is notably bittersweet. Seeing how much the supermodels loved him and witnessing again how active he was, at the peak of his career, in the fight against AIDS is poignant — especially since this was at a time when the disease was swiftly destroying whole communities, and those who were HIV-positive were stigmatized by ignorance and hysteria. “For the problem of AIDS,” says Versace, “for the problem that touches many friends. I did this with the heart.”

Naomi serves formidable hair flip as she bounds down the runway. Claudia says she always feels pretty in Versace’s clothes. And in an odd transformative note, ever notice how Gianni Versace's Italian-ness rubs off on Christy Turlington? Her Versace billboards in the opening shot are a vision of sun-kissed, smoky-eyed, Sophia Loren-esque goodness.

Everyone backstage is calm, and the show runs smoothly. We’ve been seeing a lot of early ’90s Versace lately: Lady Gaga had a field day with the archive for a media blitz earlier this year, there isn’t a tony vintage store worth its salt that doesn’t carry a couple of pieces, Drake wore a printed Versace button-up to his birthday, and the ornate-bordered shirt has been knocked off countless times, but the differences are palpable when you’re seeing the clothes in this context—on the backs of these models—when Gianni Versace was alive.

The magic lies in the movement. Versace mixed polka dots and houndstooth, filigree and floral, with everything in electric, hyper-saturated tones, all on the finest fabrics. Watching the silk suits glide down the runway is unreal because the prints undulate and billow. Gianni Versace knew how to cut: The precision and structural integrity of what would otherwise be too-whimsical in its cavalier opulence make his clothes compulsively wearable. I never thought I’d type these words, but Sylvester Stallone says it best: “Versace has his feet firmly planted in traditionalism. But every now and then, he brings about an air of theatricality. So if you feel like being a bit bold, his clothes kinda bridge that gap.” The fact that Stallone is wearing a silk lapel, wing-collar shirt and has his nails buffed to a high sheen makes this pop culture nugget that much more satisfying. Another quotable tidbit comes from Sandra Bernhard: “I think the war has gotten Bush off the hook for a while, but AIDS is an ongoing war and battle that really hasn’t been properly fought.” And, of course, there’s Naomi Campbell, who displays startling honesty about the “most embarrassing thing in [her] closet." Let's just say, she talks about something of a deeply... um... penetratively... personal nature.

We also see Andre Leon Talley snap photos of our host, and for Cindy superfans, this is the first moment where Richard Gere (Cindy's first husband) has ever seen her in this role. He’s gobsmacked. You can tell he thinks himself the luckiest bastard in the world for having landed this woman (in super-sexy, head-to-toe Versace, having just MODELED it) holding an MTV mic cube and interviewing him like a real-life journalist.

“This is amazing because we’ve known each other for two and a half years and I’ve never seen you do this before,” Gere stammers. “This is incredible. I’m just kind of floored.” From Steven Seagal in a band collar with Kelly LeBrock (dressed like a sad clown) in tow, to a photo of Michael Landon and Rod Stewart and Rachel Hunter in matching teased coifs, this was a wonderful collision of worlds, and we’re lucky that MTV was there to capture it.



betsey johnson

Designer Betsey Johnson in 1991.
Photo: MTV

The term “babydoll dress” may have not been coined by Betsey Johnson, but she can certainly lay claim to popularizing the '60s silhouette in the '90s. (The thing I love most about her floral versions is that they had pockets!) “This shape… à la maternity/pregnancy, I’ve been calling the babydoll,” she says. “It’s very naive, very sweet, very young, very innocent look. It’s a mystery after the bust. And that’s what’s interesting, because it’s got a very sexy little top part, and then after that it’s like, who knows? Is she hippy? Is she skinny? What is she under there?”

In this segment, we explore “warm weather dresses” and it’s a romp through Central Park with models in different versions of the summer staple, intercut with designers in their work rooms. There is a beautiful version by New York designer Carmelo Pomodoro, whose promising career would be cut short the following year when he died of AIDS-related pneumonia at just 37 years old. He calls this his “princess dress”: it features a demure, boxy, clavicle-skimming neckline (“I have a personal relationship with the clavicle. I think it’s the sexiest part of the body”) and a plunging back.

There is also a flowy, versatile, tank, A-line dress from Stacey Pecor at Hendris. The designer would go on to become a retail success story, founding the popular New York chain Olive and Bette's.

The final “picnic in the park” scene, with daisies and a somewhat slapdash “peace” flag, calls to mind an article entitled “Fashion: Baby Dolls, Naughty and Nice” by Anne-Marie Schiro, in an October 1990 issue of the New York Times. Schiro interviewed Kalman Ruttenstein, a senior VP for fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s, and Terry Melville, a VP and Fashion Director of the Junior/Contemporary category at Macy’s. The executives parsed the general silhouette of a baby doll (“high waist, high yoke, more fabric”; the textiles used: “chiffon, challis, stretch velvet and stretch lace”; and the predominant print: “florals… next in importance are dots, then geometrics and solid-color lace’). Melville and Ruttenstein also situated the dress as a revival of the “symbol of the 1960s youthquake.” I remember these dresses. We would wear them over tights with combat boots and a choker and your hair up in a French twist, or we’d wear them over a long-sleeved bodysuit; but I did not then or now consider them to be anything but very ’90s.

Even in 2012 with the high-waisted, floral print/lace ’90s dress enjoying a resurgence and the rising popularity of the choker on people born too recently to remember the decade—like Chloe Moretz and Sky Ferreira—I can’t help but wonder whether they know that the ’90s dresses are an homage to an earlier era. I certainly didn’t. If you show me a pair of silver clogs, I won’t think '1960s' I’ll always think '1991' because of the color and the execution. It’s the fingerprint that a decade leaves on a borrowed trend as it’s repeatedly revived in the future and I wonder what the effects will be as we look back on '80s trends from 2012 in 2032. Especially since these cycles shrink as technological innovations get faster and we become more peripatetic in pulling temporal inspiration. Colors change, mills introduce things like stretch lace, 3D printing becomes a reality and the price points for trends dip and democratize. Fashion is getting crazy accessible and it's fascinating. It's also interesting to see what’s picked up again with fondness and what’s left alone on each go 'round. We haven't yet seen the sleeveless white turtleneck bodysuit and the macramé flared-sleeve, calf-length duster but I’d bet money that they'll return. And I can't wait to see how they've changed.



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cindy crawford richard gere

Cindy Crawford interviews actor and boyfriend Richard Gere at the Gianni Versace AIDS Benefit in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Season: 3 Episode: 11
Title: Best Of Edition
Original Airdate: 11/28/91
Includes segments from:

  • Cindy Hangs Out With Will Smith On The Set Of Fresh Prince (Episode 6)

  • Gianni Versace AIDS Fundraiser (Episode 7)

  • Cindy Crawford's 1991 Calendar Shoot (Episode 8 )

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liv tyler

Model Liv Tyler goes back to school shopping at Stussy in 1992.
Photo: MTV

Season: 4 Episode: 16
Title: Fall '92
Original Airdate: 9/16/92
Appearances: Liv Tyler, Todd Oldham, Veronica Webb, Tyra Banks


In this clip, we've got Liv Tyler, who had just started her modeling career six months prior, taking us back-to-school shopping BECAUSE SHE IS IN THE 9TH GRADE. The daughter of rock n' roll royalty (her dad is Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, who some of you babies will only know as the dude who used to be an American Idol judge) is basically a zygote here and it's adorable because we've given her $200 to go shopping and she manages to find several outfits even though H&M and Forever 21 didn't exist yet.

I love how easygoing she is in her crossbody bag, simple black shorts and clogs and we make a beeline for Stussy where she tries on a bunch of oversized, striped tees, bucket hats (LOL) and stove pipe denim knee shorts (LOLOL). Then it's off to John Fluevog to try on some shoes and the Army Navy store for some basics like white tees. There's also a trip to vintage store Reminiscence (that still exists in the flatiron district!) and all the footage is interspersed with B-roll of Liv onset of a fashion shoot where her bangs are blown out and she wears velvet headbands and satin gloves because it is 1992.

Once all the booty is collected, she cooks up some outfits together and we learn that this beautiful girl who would become a cosmetics spokesperson and actress loves everything super hip-hop like oversized everything, backwards caps, Stan Smith adidas sneakers and gold. She also puts together a school girl look with a midriff-bearing tied-up white blouse, plaid skirt and white tights that's very reminiscent of her appearance in her dad's "Crazy" video two years later as well as a super-weird-but-awesome houndstooth-overall-midi-skirt-tunic thing that she wears with a white tee.

It's like going shopping with a mortal, human, unfamous friend, which is what makes it and her so great.



todd oldham

Todd Oldham refurbishes his house on a budget in 1992.
Photo: MTV

In this segment, we learn how a designer’s mind works: In redecorating his home, Todd came up with the “Interiors” theme of his Fall 1992 collection. It’s delightful to see how the fringe trim of decorative pillows becomes tiers on a mini skirt for a very young Tyra Banks; striped carpets are re-imagined as psychedelic pantsuits for Veronica Webb; two "junky" (his words, not ours!) paintings that hang on Todd’s walls become the front and back of a skirt, complete with borders that evoke the paintings’ frames. There is a leopard-print fur chaise (faux, since Todd loves animals) that becomes a luxurious, long coat as well as a printed blouse. Todd’s search for a gilt mirror becomes the inspiration for a sequin shift dress.

Then, Todd hits the flea market with Angel, his design assistant. In the same breezy, organic way we saw Todd creating his “furniture fashion,” he picks up a couch, a chair and an end table and remixes them in mere hours with the help of fabric remnants, a glue gun, safety pins, spray paint, permanent fabric dye, markers, bits of porcelain and roofing nails.

It all looks pretty ’90s (see: painted swirls on a velvet chair), but it’s great to watch a celebrated designer not only walk you through his creative process and invite you into his brain and home, but then to have him show you in totally non-scary ways how to redecorate, employing what he calls “the cheesiest recover.” It's not intimidating at all. Even in a sped-up montage, you can see where Todd applies the glue, how he uses safety pins to create the hem of the sofa cover and how tucking all the excess fabric or cutting it away makes for a surprisingly effective workaround in place of using a sewing machine. Todd also talks about the importance of recycling, which is another element that makes Todd’s design philosophy so accessible. (That said, these days, I’d have everything closely checked for bedbugs.)



gianni versace

Gianni Versace runway show in 1992.
Photo: MTV

This is a montage of the trends at fashion week for FW 1992. There’s teased and tormented hair at Martine Sitbon, fantastic millinery at Complice (designed then by Dolce and Gabbana), ’70s rock-n-roll badassery at Dolce and Gabbana and Anna Sui, and animal print at Todd Oldham and Perry Ellis. We also get a shy, cross-dressing model at Todd Oldham, and neon, body-con mastery at Gianni Versace.



Since it was a television show targeted predominantly to young girls that covered fashion and beauty, House of Style was conscious about addressing the topic of eating disorders. In this segment, we speak to Linda Wells, EIC of Allure magazine; eating disorder specialist Dr. Ivy Marcus; and physician Woodson Merrell. Most importantly, we meet a teen and learn about her battle with bulimia. Like the testimonial-based coverage of women’s health issues in magazines like Sassy, these moments of candor were intended to resonate with kids watching the show who may identify with the anecdotes and emotions, and to help viewers recognize that they might need to seek help.



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alek wek

Photographer David LaChapelle shoots model Alek Wek for French 'Vogue.'
Photo: MTV

Season: 9 Episode: 63
Title: The Year in Fashion
Original Airdate: 12/16/97
Appearances: Alek Wek, David LaChapelle, Tyra Banks, Cindy Crawford


Alek Wek was a huge deal when she arrived on the scene because this Sudanese model broke the mold. She was bald, with a round face, slightly squinty eyes and beautiful skin that was so black she appeared to glow. Alek’s claim to fame was her inclusion in Tina Turner’s “GoldenEye” video for the James Bond movie of the same name. Ms. Turner wears this incredible skin-tight white satin dress with a high slit; Alek lounges on a chaise, skin gleaming as she fondles a giant jewel.

We’re on set with Alek and the incomparable photographer David LaChapelle. Alek is wearing a fuchsia formal gown in this tidy little neighborhood in Queens, and the bright sun and pedestrian backdrop creates a dreamy feeling with this beautiful, statuesque model who’s incongruous to everything around her. Alek has this easy, loping walk and looks great on the runway, but where she gets really exciting is in dramatic editorials. David calls her a “monumental beauty”; I don’t want to sound fetishistic, but she does have a look so striking that you either love her or hate her. She is definitely a part of the New Wave of models, and looks so unique that it makes total sense that she continues to work today. She appeared as a judge on America’s Next Top Model.



rebecca romijn tyra banks

Rebecca Romijn and model Tyra Banks talk about the year in fashion in 1997.
Photo: MTV

New host Rebecca Romijn drives around L.A. in a convertible and talks style with Tyra Banks. They wear matching blue sweaters and discuss trends and what it’s like to shop for clothes. Tyra is obviously a media mogul now, and Rebecca has gone onto a successful acting career (a transition attempted by many and achieved by few), but it’s interesting that they cut unorthodox figures in the industry because they skew a little mainstream for hardcore fashion fans. They talk about how asymmetrical silhouettes and sheer clothes don’t work on girls with big boobs, and they talk about how relieved they are that glamour has returned to upstage the waif. It's a good time in media since curvier, more commercially sexy models like Trya and Rebecca could get exposure on a new genre of magazine: The ’90s were the boom time for the “lad mag,” like Maxim, Stuff and FHM. Models had options outside women’s fashion magazines, and were no longer relegated to other extremes like Playboy, or to themed editions like Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.



gianni versace

Cindy Crawford tributes designer Gianni Versace after his death in 1997.
Photo: MTV

At the 1997 VMAs, we commemorated a great many untimely deaths: In the same year, we lost Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur and Princess Diana. In fashion, the death of Gianni Versace was devastating. The designer was at the peak of his career. He was showing 10 different collections annually and had just released his AW 1997 Couture collection, a triumphant culmination of the motifs and technique he had mastered over the previous eight years. He was a significant figure in marrying music and fashion, enlisting famous friends like Madonna and Elton John in print campaigns. He designed performance costumes for Elton John’s world tour, and was the first to invite celebrities to sit front row amongst the buyers, editors and other fashion-industry insiders at his shows.

Gianni’s muse and sister, Donatella Versace, didn’t skip a beat despite her tragic loss, designing for the house beginning in SS 1998; she has since grown the company into a global empire during a challenging economic climate. Gianni’s final collection is a marvel. It’s incredible because watching it now confirms just how brilliant, influential and prescient the designer was. This NY Times article by Amy M. Spindler charts the designer’s arc and breaks down how the Versace aesthetic evolved from garish “happy hooker” excess, and how time has transformed elements — like bondage, brash patterns and hardware — that had seemed lurid and lewd at the time into classic themes.

It’s definitely a more severe collection. There are solid color stories in black and gold. At first glance, it looks pared down, but it’s not. Instead of relying on creating the illusion of movement with the interplay of prints, the designer builds outward, and the topography is revelatory: graceful sculpted shoulders, stuffed tubular straps and heavy, fluid fabric draped and gathered into precise ripples. The models are goddesses. There is no flounce — just delicate mesh chain mail, stark leather panels, floor-skimming hems and the sumptuous heft of very expensive fabric.

It’s been fifteen years since Gianni passed, and it seems that Donatella has finally come to some peace. For AW 2012, the designer returned to her brother’s final collection, and used crosses and mesh in the new season as a tribute. She is also showing the couture collection at the Ritz Hotel in Paris for the first time since Gianni died.

The designer’s legacy lives on in popular culture: We recently saw pieces from his final collection in Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” music video, proof that Versace continues to inspire new generations of musicians.



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MTV Style follows how people express themselves through fashion and beauty, from our favorite pop culture icons to you, the reader. We cover the fun, loud side of the industry with news, trends, interviews, videos, and more — MTV Style is fashion at full volume.

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Featured Comment

I love these two as a couple. What a festive way to celebrate two important events in their life. Mariah looks like a dream.

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