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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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calvin klein

Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries in designer Calvin Klein's "Musicians in Dirty Denim" campaign.
Photo: MTV

Season: 11 Episode: 70
Title: 10 Year Anniversary Special
Original Airdate: 11/23/99
Appearances: Moby, Dolores O'Riordan (the Cranberries), Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Michael Kors, Donatella Versace, Oscar de la Renta, Helmut Lang

MUSIC AND FASHION: MOBY MODELS FOR CALVIN KLEIN

Calvin Klein’s a master when it comes to branding. He just is. In another canny marketing move, the designer enlists musicians ranging from Left Eye (R.I.P.) to Shakira and Moby to David Silveria of Korn to be his models for an upcoming denim campaign shot by Steven Klein. In this segment, we go on set with Moby, David and Dolores O’Riordan (from the Cranberries) for their shoots. The denim is dirtied up this season, and to complement the look, the backdrop is dark, with the lighting creating a bluish cocoon of shadows.

Creating portraits that capture the mood of the collection without compromising each artist’s image is tricky. Styling, makeup and hair are all considered with special care so as to not alienate their fans.

+ WATCH CALVIN KLEIN'S DENIM CAMPAIGN SHOOT

DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: THE BEST OF SPRING 2000

marc jacobs

Designer Marc Jacobs in 1999.
Photo: MTV

Remember Y2K? The hoopla surrounding the turn of the millennium was all anything anyone talked about at the time, and here we look to the runways for the first collections of 2000 to see if anything’s changed. It's sort of like staring into the mirror on your birthday to check if you’ve grown or gotten more good-looking overnight. We look to Marc Jacobs for a new take on cotton. “I sort of felt going into the year 2000,” he says. “It was a sure thing [to] play with the notion of what it feels like to wear jeans and a T-shirt. That just always seems contemporary.” The denim is offered in a slightly shiny, trouser-cut silhouette that dominated the early part of the aughts, as well as knee-length, flat-front shorts. The tees are offered in silhouettes ranging from stylized embroidered white peasant blouses to sequined tube tops.

Anna Sui takes the peasant look further, maintaining a tight thematic focus to keep it from devolving into role-playing. “I’ve really been celebrating handicrafts,” she says. “I was trying to make it casual enough that you could walk down the street without people thinking you came out of a costume epic.” Her ensembles feature embroidery, intricate lace and beadwork. A romantic flourish is preserved in soft, flowing silhouettes and relaxed, tissue-thin ruffles.

Oscar de la Renta is as glamorous this season as you’d expect. He offers massive, reflective paillettes in soft colors. Embroidery is featured here too, but the interesting thing is that even he opted for some casual notes, like the evening two-piece that was widely beloved by starlets. You’ll recall the shiny balloon skirts (some going so far as to feature pockets) that were paired with scoop-neck tees and tanks, for an unfussy but pulled-together look. (Sharon Stone famously wore a full skirt with a GAP tee, as you may recall.) He also flips the script on denim, to show blue twill as a luxury item.

At John Bartlett, it’s all about the “Guerilla Ballerina”: the interplay between a militaristic palette, utilitarian trousers and sheer, pale, blouses and shells. And, of course, there’s also summerweight leather. Helmut Lang’s signature erogenous zone has to be the sternum, and this season we see plunging, asymmetrical necklines in elegant fabrics. It’s crispness galore, with delicate knits and a fascinating retooling of eveningwear by way of a sweatshirt and sweatpant combo rendered in the most ethereal fabric. With Yeohlee, it’s all about the absence of black, and a thorough study of sheen, with pearlescent textiles creating texture in thick strapped tanks and cropped jackets. A fresh-faced Michael Kors did then what he’s always done best: a collection featuring wrap skirts, bold color and a motif he dubs “Palm Bitch.” It’s classic Kors all the way: resort wear that looks unmistakably American.

Colors fly at Versace. Donatella hyper-saturates trousers, bandeaus and crop tops while masterfully injecting refreshing jolts of white. Declaring white the new black, she says it's the color (or lack of color) for the new rock 'n roll class.

+ WATCH FIRST COLLECTIONS OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 70

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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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House Of Style

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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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