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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

MODELS, THE NEXT GENERATION: ALEK WEK

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.

+ WATCH ALEK WEK

MODELS, THE NEXT GENERATION: REBECCA AND TYRA TALK FASHION

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.

+ WATCH REBECCA ROMIJN AND TYRA BANKS

DEMYSTIFYING FASHION: RIP GIANNI VERSACE

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.

+ WATCH THE GIANNI VERSACE TRIBUTE

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 63

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usher rebecca romijn

Rebecca Romijn talks about sex appeal with rapper Usher in 1998.
Photo: MTV

Season: 10 Episode: 64
Title: Who's The Bomb?
Original Airdate: 6/16/98
Appearances: Usher, James King

WHAT DOES USHER WEAR TO FEEL SEXY?

In this segment, Usher Raymond and Rebecca Romijn hang out on the roof of the Chateau Marmont to talk about what he wears to feel sexy. He is all of 19 years old, and the two flirt outrageously as he changes clothes three times. For those even slightly less obsessed with Usher than I am, this was a crazy time for the Dallas, Texas -born performer, it's right on the heels of the monstrous success of his 1997 sophomore release My Way. If you don't know, that was the album where Jermaine Dupri and Usher got together and started making warlock music that would destroy the Billboard charts for the next majillion years. It was also the year Usher debuted his acting chops in that Robert Rodriguez movie The Faculty, which starred everyone from Elijah Wood to Salma Hayek and Jon Stewart.

We first see Usher in a bright yellow sweatsuit unzipped to the navel; Clarks Wallies; shades; and diamonds. The suit is from Shabazz Brothers, the line created by the dude Big Daddy Kane would routinely shout out. This was the heyday of urban streetwear like Karl Kani, Phat Farm, Walker Wear by April Walker, Mecca, Maurice Malone, Pure Playaz and Enyce, and Usher’s warm-ups are emblematic of the aesthetic as it existed before sportswear focused on preppier, collegiate elements, and the “grown and sexy” vibe that you see in his video for the single “You Remind Me.” (That's the one where Usher wears massive, French cuff striped button-down shirts, sateen shirts and summer-weight suits so baggy they look like pajamas.)

Next is a short-sleeved, white logo button-down from Phat Farm, worn with a cotton tank and chinos. A do-rag and Cartier sunglasses finish off the look. What follows is the final ensemble: yet another Phat Farm top — this time a pique polo with an embroidered back — and baggy shorts. It’s notable that while Usher’s clothes became more fitted over the years, the general idea remains the same: a heavy reliance on dark tees, jeans and button downs.

STREET STYLE: JAMES KING ON WHO'S "THE BOMB"

james king

Model James King finds out what's sexy on the streets of New York in 1998.
Photo: MTV

That she had a boy’s name and was regularly seen on the downtown New York scene made James King (now Jamie) undeniably cool. She has an insouciance about her and even when designers put her in the skimpiest outfits, she always looked badass and confident. It's what makes her perfect for walking around NYC to decide who’s cool. This is 1998, mind you, so, hilariously enough, she’s actually going around deciding who’s “The Bomb” (cue Funkmaster Flex explosion sounds). LOLOLOLOLOL.

James is a master at plucking out bomb people. Her hair is loose, she’s barely wearing any makeup, and she’s in a black tank and boot-cut jeans that are split up the front to create the illusion of unzipped basketball track pants. It’s a particularly ’90s way of distressing jeans that you never see anymore but should.

James runs up on a guy and calls him over for being “sexy.” He’s wearing a massive Knicks starter jacket, loose jeans and a necklace. They talk a little about what they each find attractive, and she calls him out for dripping with good energy. They’re visibly taken with each other, but observe one other analytically. It’s like watching two cool people smell each other’s butts. Then the dude’s friend —who I swear is a young Amy Gunther in cornrows (that’s the model who started the iconic skate shop KCDC) — saunters over looking angelic in a white tank and simple skirt.

Next it’s off to the park, where we see a cute girl who epitomizes 1998 summer style in skintight pedal pushers, platform flip-flops and a head scarf. Then there’s another grouping of kids in summer dresses and tees. We even talk briefly to a dude in a ringer T-shirt and Air Maxes who attempts to holler at James. It’s hilarious how quickly she deflects him while addressing us about how easy it is for guys to be “The Bomb,” since so much of it relies on their attitude. It’s sorta like a Richard Attenborough voiceover on a nature show, and it’s great.

+ WATCH JAMES KING'S NEW YORK STREET STYLE

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 64

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kid rock

Singer Kid Rock tries on swimsuits with Rebecca Romijn in 1999.
Photo: MTV

Season: 11 Episode: 67
Title: Swimsuit Edition
Original Airdate: 5/19/99
Appearances: Kid Rock, Rebecca Romijn

MUSIC AND FASHION: KID ROCK TRIES ON BATHING SUITS

kid rock

Singer Kid Rock tries on swimsuits with Rebecca Romijn in 1999.
Photo: MTV

OK, first of all, new House of Style host Rebecca Romijn has a RIDICULOUS body. Let’s just get that out of the way, because no matter what Kid Rock puts on poolside, it’s sort of beside the point next to homegirl in her white tankini. The Grammy-winning arena rock-rapper is a good sport and is happy to strip down to his white tank and cotton boxers to try on board shorts of all varieties. First, there are several from the label Counter Culture: shorts with flames, a burnout velvet Tiki motif on a metallic base, and an embroidered Hawaiian number.

+ WATCH REBECCA ROMIJN DISCUSS KID ROCK ON 'HOUSE OF STYLE: MUSIC, MODELS, AND MTV'


kid rock

Singer Kid Rock tries on swimsuits with Rebecca Romijn in 1999.
Photo: MTV

John Bartlett has straightforward colorblock surf shorts; then there's also an MCD pair with a panel of dragon embroidery on the side that Kid Rock calls Karate Kid shorts. There are tiny, throwback James Bond speedo shorts that Kid deigns to wear over his boxers, and board shorts which he stuffs with tube socks for a little dude help. Rebecca straps one on as well. This doesn’t particularly speak to Kid Rock’s personal style, since he’s totally the type to just waltz into a swimming pool in khaki cargos, but it’s kind of like playing paper dolls with the most incongruous possible subjects. We couldn't clear the clip but check out our gallery for all the retro suits and the crotch augmenting action.

kid rock

Singer Kid Rock tries on swimsuits with Rebecca Romijn in 1999.
Photo: MTV

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 67

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samantha maloney melissa auf der maur hole

Samantha Maloney and Melissa Auf der Maur of Hole show off concert style in 1999.
Photo: MTV

Season: 11 Episode: 68
Title: MTV Movie Awards Post Show, "Wrapped and Dressed"
Original Airdate: 6/12/99
Appearances: Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson, Samantha Maloney and Melissa Auf der Maur (Hole)

MUSIC AND FASHION: HOLE DIY'S A TOO-BIG CONCERT TEE

Melissa Auf der Maur, bassist for Hole (and, later, Smashing Pumpkins) talks about what you can do to personalize band T-shirts. It's The Worst when all you have is a promo tee or a concert tee for a band that you really love in a crappy, massive size. It's as if girls weren't considered at all when some marketing d-bag ordered the pallet of Hanes Beefy Tees. As the proud owner of a million XXXL rap promo tees, I loved this segment on how to cut up and remix shirts to create cute, personalized halter necks and baby tanks.

Melissa and drummer Samantha Maloney talk about what they do to make tees their own. Samantha bedazzles a pink tank with rhinestones, and Melissa talks about using boybeater tanks and a Sharpie to talk to fans. For the time they played with Blondie, Melissa scrawled “Heart of Glass” on a tank; on the occasion of a performance in Detroit, she opted for “I love MOTOWN.” It's cute to see them proudly show off a rack of clothes that either they made, or that were made for them by friends and loved ones. It's awesome to see confident women who have all sorts of clothes at their disposal choose something unfussy and personal to wear onstsage. Plus, it's empowering if you skew DIY-y to see them wearing garments that are homespun. This is Todd Time with women you look up to and want to emulate.

MUSIC AND FASHION: REBECCA TALKS TO COURTNEY LOVE

Our red carpet host Rebecca Romijn talks to Courtney about what went into her VMA dress for the evening. Their rapport is weird and wonderful.

+ WATCH 1999 MOVIE AWARDS: COURTNEY LOVE

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 68

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christina aguilera

Singer Christina Aguilera tries on fall coats in 1999.
Photo: MTV

Season: 11 Episode: 69
Title: Dress Code
Original Airdate: 8/30/99
Appearances: Christina Aguilera, Anna Sui

CHRISTINA AGUILERA GETS COVERED UP

Whoa. Christina pre-Xtina footage! Pre-everything footage, I guess. This is RIGHT when Christina Aguilera’s album first came out, like, the literal week afterward, and she’s so tiny and innocent and unsullied that it’s amazing. She’s wearing a short-sleeved cardigan that reveals her tummy, and she’s so articulate in that completely engaged, shiny-eyed way that ex-Mouseketeers have about them. She is “partial to the ballads” on her album, and asserts that the lyrics to “Genie In A Bottle” are way less pervy and far more lady-evolved than the hook suggests.

This is a fall segment, so we’ve got a rack of coats for Rebecca and Christina to try on. It seems full-length and ¾ length are in as far as hems go, and the outerwear runs the gamut from a Versace dyed python with a zebra-print pony belt to a giant, sherbet-colored fur number with a satin lining that’s painted with Chinese calligraphy. There is a tufted poncho, a striped cape and a lovely classic from Prada’s Robin Hood-ish collection (I always called it that because the shoes were so pointy that season) that features carefully cut-out leather and appliquéd patent leather leaves. Speaking of embellishment, there’s a bonkers yellow plastic coat from Dolce & Gabbana embroidered in hot pink that Christina loves. It’s such a refreshing rediscovery of what the performer was like when she started out. Speaking of which, she mentions that she’s accustomed to dressing for warmth because she’s from Pittsburgh. Did ANY of you remember that? How weird is that? I totally misplaced that factoid over the years, which is just one way in which time and aging mess with you. Dyed python is still gauche, though!

+ WATCH REBECCA ROMIJN AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA

ANNA SUI MAKES OVER A ROOM

anna sui

Designer Anna Sui gives student Jame Darrow a dorm room makeover in 1999.
Photo: MTV

I love that this segment contains a exterior shot with Anna Sui marching down the street to do over a bedroom. She’s so purposeful, with her bag and her braided pigtails. It’s this Mary Poppins-ish moment that makes you believe she is absolutely capable of magic. Anna was one of those people we always relied on to add a touch of style expertise, and here she takes over what is traditionally a Todd role to re-do a tiny bedroom because the owner is going crazy, overwhelmed by its fugliness.

The room has dope bones — there’s a whole wall of exposed brick, decent windows and it’s small but large enough for a bed, desk and dresser (basically, KING SIZED for New York standards) — and the first order of business is creating a theme based on the ingredients the occupant already owns. There’s a beaded, Aztec-themed curtain: From there, Anna picks out a blue wall color typical of homes in Mexico. Red is the accent color for the radiator and exposed pipe. A corkboard is added, with crisscrossed ribbon (which is a DIY trick I definitely remember as being a whole thing in my college days). An embroidered bedspread complements the animal-print sheets and shams for mix and match goodness; another matching spread is hoisted up for a window panel. A tooled silver mirror transforms the chest of drawers into a vanity and from there, it’s a short step to get to an introduction of Anna’s new makeup line.

I don’t remember a time when Anna Sui’s fragrance and cosmetics line didn’t exist. Sometimes I feel like right when I hit the age where I was ready to experiment with makeup, Anna’s dreamy, sexy, black lacquer, rose embossed goodies hit the market, and I wanted everything. It was sort of the antithesis to the marbled green Clinique stuff (I mean, who didn’t have the toner and face soap? Not to mention the makeup bags) and embodied everything about Anna Sui’s sartorial aesthetic. I actually remember seeing this segment and wondering if the girl whose room she made over got to keep everything. Can you imagine? Anna Sui comes over, and not only does she revamp your entire sleeping area but then she blesses you with a passel of makeup? Ridiculous. Also awesome. The envy still smarts!

+ WATCH ANNA SUI REDECORATE

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 69

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jay-z rocawear

Rebecca Romijn interviews rapper Jay-Z (in Rocawear) at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: MTV

Season: 11 Episode: VMA99
Title: House of Style at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards, "A Night at the Opera"
Original Airdate: 9/11/99
Appearances: Jay-Z, Chris Rock, Lil Kim, Donatella Versace

MUSIC AND FASHION: JAY-Z WEARS ROCAWEAR ON THE RED CARPET

At this point, House of Style has evolved from being a fashion news show to becoming a red-carpet live report of MTV's major events. Here, Rebecca talks to Jay-Z at the 1999 VMAs. At the Movie Awards earlier that year, Jay had a more formal approach to his attire; our host remarks that he’s dressed down, to which he responds, “This is music, this is something I’m a part of,” implying that he can wear whatever the hell he likes in this arena. He also dubs his look “corporate thuggin’,” which of course calls to mind “So Ghetto” lyrics: “Jigga-Man you rich, take the doo-rag off… Won’t change for no paper, plus I been rich.”

This is kind of a big moment: Jay is debuting his Rocawear line with a red, blue and white outfit that’s not yet available in stores. Rebecca observes that he’s not quite wearing his clothes head-to-toe: He’s wearing Nikes. It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing to the S. Carter Collection by RBK deal that he’d sign with Reebok in 2003. They became the fastest-selling sneaker in the company's history.

+ WATCH 1999 VMAS: JAY-Z ON THE RED CARPET

POP CULTURE AND FASHION: CHRIS ROCK FINDS A HOSTING OUTFIT

chris rock

Comedian Chris Rock (in Calvin Klein) hosts the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: MTV

This is a quick peek behind the scenes at the VMAs, and a look into host Chris Rock’s outfit for that year. The comedian/actor’s stylist Amanda Sanders talks about their relationship with Calvin Klein, who outfitted Chris for his comedy special in a black leather outfit. The wardrobe choice is particularly important with regard to the lighting and how the outfit will play against different sets. For 1999, Rock opted for an off-white suit. It was a clean, sharp look that was just as rock n roll as black, but drew the eye and held your attention. Perfect for a monologue.

+ WATCH 1999 VMAS: CHRIS ROCK IN CALVIN KLEIN

MUSIC AND FASHION: LIL KIM’S BOOB ATTENDS THE 1999 VMAs

lil kim

Rebecca Romijn interviews rapper Lil Kim (in a boobie onesie outfit) at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: MTV

Of all Queen Bee's outrageous outfits, her sheer, metallic, catsuit took the asymmetrical cake with a neckline that plunged to the point of revealing a boob in its entirety. The dress was designed by Kim’s stylist (and Diddy’s ex) Misa Hylton. Of course, the areola was covered with a matching sparkling modesty pastie, but of course this proved to be more a bullseye than a shield when Diana Ross copped a feel, jiggling the boob with her right hand to prove its buoyancy.

Oh, and her shoes were Steve Madden.

diana ross lil kim boobie

Lil Kim's boobie moment with Diana Ross at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1999.
Photo: MTV/Gif: MTV

+ WATCH 1999 VMAS: LIL' KIM'S ONESIE

DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: DONATELLA VERSACE STANDS UP FOR THE STREETS

donatella versace

Rebecca Romijn interviews designer Donatella Versace at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
Photo: MTV

Donatella is amazing. In this clip, she’s asked about youth culture and personal style. Rebecca tries to goad her into talking about trends she dislikes or thinks will become regrettable, and our platinum-tressed hero never once takes the bait. “Anything they dare to do, they should do it,” she says. “I think kids in the street, they wear fantastic clothes. They have a good sense of style—especially in New York. I don’t think nothing is too crazy... as long as you enjoy it.” Correct.

+ WATCH 1999 VMAS: DONATELLA VERSACE

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM VMA 1999/a>

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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.

Posted by Journey on Mariah Carey And Nick Cannon Shut Down Disneyland To Renew Vows In Cinderella-Themed Ensembles
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