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claudia schiffer

Model Claudia Schiffer in 1990.
Photo: MTV

Season: 2 Episode: 3
Title: Spring '90
Original Airdate: 2/17/90
Appearances: Claudia Schiffer, Giorgio Armani, Pam Hogg

RISE OF THE SUPERMODEL: CLAUDIA SCHIFFER

claudia schiffer

Model Claudia Schiffer at the French 'Vogue' shoot in 1990.
Photo: MTV

Looking into the 19-year-old face of Claudia Schiffer is a weird experience. Especially when you consider that we meet her, in this segment, before she becomes a megastar and a major player in the supermodel industrial complex. Cindy even refers to her as the “Guess Jeans girl,” and the qualifier seems crazy since it’s been three decades, countless magazines, myriad billboards and miles of catwalk since this unknown from Dusseldorf starred in a black-and-white advertising campaign shot in Tennessee by the model-turned-photographer Ellen Von Unwerth.

This moment, captured in Paris during a French Vogue shoot, is right at the point when Schiffer’s been "chosen" (cue harp strumming and singing cherubs) by The Editors and The Photographers, but before she’s become a household name. It also makes one realize how infrequently we hear Claudia speak. It's not disappointing or incongruous at all (it's horribly jarring when that happens [see: David Beckham]). Turns out, she has a pleasant voice and a lilting German accent.

We see the Guess campaign shots: Claudia is the spit-and-image of Brigitte Bardot, except that she wears high-waisted faded blue jeans (mom jeans or irono hipster-lady jeans by contemporary standards). In March 2012, Guess re-released some of the original images to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the last of Claudia’s six campaigns. The iconic photos are presented alongside a new series shot in Italy and it's clear that Claudia lacks the decency to age like a regular human. You can’t really tell the difference because the appalling woman remains as taut and fresh-faced as ever.

In fact, Schiffer may have improved over the years. She confesses how nervous she was to walk for Chanel (her turns featured a cute, veering/speedy finish). She spins, bounces and smiles sheepishly. Even with the benefit of hindsight bias, it’s unsurprising that Claudia remains famous so many years later. It’s amusing, also, that Cindy’s voice-over speculates as to the new girl's staying power, musing about where she’ll be in ten years. “Married or going to school,” Claudia responds. “Have kids or something like that. What everybody does.” Ooooooooor there is always the option of becoming spectacularly famous.

DEMOCRATIZING FASHION: GIORGIO ARMANI CREATES THE EMPORIO ARMANI DIFFUSION LINE

giorgio armani

Designer Giorgio Armani on his new line Emporio Armani in 1990.
Photo: MTV

Giorgio Armani has always known exactly what he was doing. He has also always worn a tight black T-shirt in interviews. There’s something about the translator, and about the look of Mr. Armani’s face as a younger man, that make the interview feel a bit distant, especially since it sounds like he’s relaying schemes of world domination. Thing is, you can’t help but respect the Giorgio Armani brand for their diffusion strategy. Were you to chart the differences between Armani Exchange, Emporio Armani, Armani Collezioni (white label) and Giorgio Armani (black label), you’ll see the entire low-high spectrum, most notably how each level caters to different, specific customers across all ages and price-points. Don't know about you, but this stuff really blows my skirt up.

In this segment, Mr. Armani discusses the recent launch of Emporio Armani (150 stores worldwide, with one in Manhattan at the time) and how it was created to be less expensive and youth-oriented. The runway footage selected to support this notion of a younger line rings sorta hilarious in 2012, since in 1990, most people, regardless of age, dressed like a 35-year-old tycoon. There are incredible double-breasted blazers that are streamlined due to their narrow lapels, with low-slung plackets and prints. The key here is the addition of logo tees and underwear, which was fantastically on-point for kids since this was a time when conspicuous aspirational branding was HUGE within youth culture. (Hello Calvin Klein).

It’s also genius that Armani discusses jeans, since it was a notable statement for anyone to send denim down the runway in Europe. Armani pushes the envelope further by showing a topless model. “I wanted the jeans to be the focus,” he says. “I like to entice and tease my customers with different variation on jeans, like how the kids on the streets personalize theirs. American youth has a great sense of style.” The man knows exactly to whom he was talking. Armani further differentiates Emporio from his other collections by pointedly steering clear of big-name girls:“I never use supergirls in my Emporio shows. The clothes should be the star… not the models.”

+ WATCH THE START OF EMPORIO ARMANI


STREET STYLE: LONDON

pam hogg london

Designer Pam Hogg in 1990.
Photo: MTV

We weren’t able to clear this segment due to music clearance issues, but I thought I’d touch upon it, since it features a rare interview (OK, more like three quotes) with Pam Hogg. And yes, I just really wanted the chance to talk about her because she rules and people should know about her. For the uninitiated, Pam Hogg is legendary on the London street style scene: look up her store, Hyper Hyper. Since 1990, she’s dressed Rihanna, Lily Allen, Siouxsie Sioux, Kylie Minogue, Jessie J, and Kate Moss, the last of whom wore a Hogg dress to last year’s NME awards. Hogg’s totally badass and has achieved full-fledged cult status in England; she’s also a director, screenwriter, actress and musician.

In this segment, Hogg’s in her store, rocking blonde dreadlocks; a floppy, furry animal-print hat; and a studded leather jacket with enormous, exaggerated lapels, AND THICK CHAIN FRINGE (suuuuuch a good idea, someone steal this and mass produce it right now [please don't talk to me about Balmain because I said "THICK" chain fringe and "mass produce"]); a ring tee; and a bunch of mixed silver and gold rings, with crucifixes dangling from her neck. Hogg offers this sage style advice: “It’s the attitude in who’s wearing the thing. I mean, some people can wear flares and look absolutely ridiculous, and other people know why they’re wearing them and they’ll last forever. It’s not a case of one thing is in and one thing is out…If you’re sensible and know the way you can actually dress, you can wear anything.” Preach.

The interview is interspersed with man-on-the-street interviews of kids running around Kings Cross and Camden Market. It’s notable for the style time capsule because we’re seeing flared, light blue jeans, hoodies, hats, MCM monogram, motorcycle jackets, overalls, oversized denim jackets, Dr. Martens and a Boy London T-shirt. If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same stuff you’ve been seeing a resurgence of this year. Seriously, Boy London is EVERYWHERE right now (see: Rihanna photos and logo leggings at Patricia Field with T-shirts at The Cobrasnake store). Aaaaaaaand, speaking of Boy London, you should probably know that Boy London isn't '90s but a throwback to the 1970s, when Stephane Raynor first founded the fashion label for the punks and new romantics of the day. Much of the style feels surprisingly fresh. The hot-guy salesman in a skull scarf (classic Alexander McQueen much?) and a Native American patterned poncho would look divine on New York streets today. And by "today" I mean later this year since it is unseasonably hot this summer. Something, something global warming frowny face.

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 3

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cindy crawford

Cindy Crawford at the American 'Vogue' shoot with photographer Helmut Newton in Monte Carlo in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Season: 3 Episode: 10
Title: Fall '91
Original Airdate: 9/18/91
Appearances: Helmut Newton, Andre Leon Talley, Calvin Klein

DEMYSTIFYING FASHION: HELMUT NEWTON SHOOTS CINDY FOR 'VOGUE'

If the ’90s was the decade of supermodels, it was also the decade of super-photographers. The artistry of key figures like Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Ellen Von Unwerth and Helmut Newton contributed to the stratospheric rise of the glamazons while boosting the influence and acclaim of the fashion magazine. In this clip, we go to Monte Carlo, to the set of Cindy’s shoot for the November 1991 issue of American Vogue. Also on hand are photographer Helmut Newton and (then) creative director Andre Leon Talley. Cindy is in full high-fashion mode: Her hair is enormous, her body is brolic and she never once cracks a smile. She is there to work and shoot beautiful, hypersexualized photographs in Newton’s classic “King of Kink” style. “I wanted to do Helmut Newton photographs,” Cindy says. “I didn’t want him to photograph me looking like the Madonna. Not Madonna. The Madonna. Because he’s one of the few people who can get away with it and it doesn’t look raunchy.”

Cindy quickly sheds her all-American innocence. In one shot, she lies on the stage of a ballroom in a white bathing suit, twisting her body towards a blindfolded orchestra made up of old men in tuxedos. According to an interview with Newton, the image was designed to recreate a “chambre separée, when elegant people used to have private, elegant orgies.”

Another scene involves Cindy arching her back and scowling from a sweltering construction site, while hard-hatted crew dudes crane their necks to catch a glimpse. Yet another set-up has Cindy walk across a stone plaza in heels and a black bathing suit, hands outstretched against a cloudless blue sky, trailing a black veil. “[It’s a] photograph of Cindy with the swimsuit,” says Talley (who’s wearing an outfit befitting the glitzy principality: seersucker suit, sunglasses, a yellow straw cap and a matching neckerchief). “Then, suddenly, we put a tulle veil over it from Chanel and see her, like, maybe there is a sort of cinematic, theatrical glamour.” As with all Newton shoots, the magic is in the details. The added wisp of fabric creates a Felliniesque, 1960s European bombshell vibe, transforming our normally affable host.

If you’re familiar with Newton’s work but not the man, it’s surprising how unassuming he appears. He has a thing for loud, printed shirts. He wears a Hawaiian short sleeve one day and a shirt with an all-over print of small white dogs on another. But he has a decisive, Teutonic air when he shoots. He knows exactly how Cindy should “undulate” under the veil, and advises her on her form during the orchestra scene so as to keep the shot within the realm of “American decency.”

Watching Newton work is a revelation and a treat. It’s a lovely, rare opportunity to hear the photographer talk about himself instead of being studied and discussed. “I think that the only thing I’ve brought to fashion photography was a certain kind of sexuality,” he says. And referring back to Cindy’s comment about how Newton can shoot aggressive sex without tawdriness, the photographer attributes it to his palette. “Everything looks wonderful in black and white,” he says. “It is so pure, especially when it comes to photographing very daring, sexual images. I think that, in color, it becomes questionable.”

This segment again shows off Cindy’s range, despite her coloring, she submits to a quintessentially Newtonian aesthetic. Newton liked to take pictures of similar subjects and is most famous for his admiration of blondes. Writer Anthony Lane described Newton’s favorite sorts in The New Yorker (upon the release of Newton’s biography in September 2003) as “strapping Prussian nudes, their marble-hard limbs girt in sheer stockings and the pelts of severely endangered species…” Or else “glaciers with breasts.” As fashion fans will remember, this meant lots of pictures with six-foot model/ice queen Nadja Auermann. “Helmut was very clear that he liked a big girl and blonde girl, in an impeccable suit and high heels,” said Anna Wintour, in the 2004 Newton obituary that ran in the New York Times. "He would take that girl and put her in some wicked or naughty situation, kissing another woman or in handcuffs." Helmut Newton died in a car crash in Hollywood when he collided into a wall at the Chateau Marmont. He was 83.

+ WATCH HELMUT NEWTON AND CINDY CRAWFORD IN MONTE CARLO


DEMYSTIFYING FASHION: CALVIN KLEIN'S MILLION-DOLLAR DENIM CAMPAIGN

calvin klein

Designer Calvin Klein on his ad campaign with model Carré Otis in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Fashion advertising in the ’90s was exciting. You had the minimalist A Line ads from Anne Klein; the jarring, incendiary ads from Benetton; and the racially diverse ads from ESPRIT. Calvin Klein had been making headlines for his ad campaigns for decades, and would continue to do so in the decades following. For the 1991 October issue of Vanity Fair, Calvin Klein created an outrageously expensive ad campaign to promote his eponymous jeans line.

The series, shot by Bruce Weber, features a badass, curly-haired, full-lipped Carré Otis straddling a massive motorcycle on the streets of San Francisco. The camera shadows her day as the frontwoman of a fictional rock ’n roll band. We see Otis singing, stage-diving, and making out; Klein says he loved the images so much that, after selecting his favorites to use, he discovered that he had chosen 140 of them. The ad ran as a 116-page supplement to Vanity Fair, printed on the same paper stock as the magazine. Industry insiders at the time speculated that the ostentatious ad buy set the brand back $1 million.

+ WATCH CALVIN KLEIN ADVERTISING


DEMYSTIFYING FASHION: NAOMI WOLF AND CAMILLE PAGLIA ON EATING DISORDERS

naomi wolf

Naomi Wolf, author of 'The Beauty Myth,' participates in a discourse on beauty and feminism in 1991.
Photo: MTV

In this segment, MTV spoke with Naomi Wolf and Camille Paglia on the topic of eating disorders and the destructive effects of media in promulgating unrealistic beauty ideals.

While it would be easy to dismiss this as lip service to combat criticism of our role in promoting unhealthy body images, the footage is important when you consider MTV’s largely teenage viewership and how this segment predates an honest dialogue of airbrushing and Photoshop within the industry. We could not clear the clip due to issues with images and music, but we’ve transcribed quotes from Wolf and Paglia to highlight their stances on anorexia and fashion magazines as well as comments from Naomi Campbell and Jane Pratt. It’s an interesting moment when you consider the current criticism of pro-ana sites and the crackdown on “thinspo” on social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest. And it's also notable how most of these women focus on eating disorders as a white epidemic.

Naomi Wolf, Author of 'The Beauty Myth':
“Right now, a lot of people are telling women lies about what beauty is. The ideal we see in fashion magazines, for example: thin, white, young, surgically implanted. When you follow the advice of women's magazines, and follow one of these of these typical diets, it changes your brain chemistry and it addicts you, both physically and psychologically, to anorexia or bulimia.”

Camille Paglia, Professor of Humanities, University of the Arts, Philadelphia:
“Anorexia is the product of a particular kind of pushy, ambitious, socially upwardly mobile white family life. This idea of blaming it on the media is a sickness. It has got to stop. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing beauty. The pursuit of beauty is a noble human aim.”

Wolf:
“As soon as women start reaching for power, there’s been a backlash. That’s the beauty myth. The beauty myth put in the place of happy housewife, this Vogue model, [which] says that no matter how successful you are in any aspect of your life, you have to look like that or you’re worthless.”

Paglia:
“The last ten years, career women have taken back the paraphernalia, the regalia, the armament of female sexuality. And we feel more powerful with it.”

Naomi Campbell:
“We, as models, use beauty when we climb. We start off in the beginning, and we get more successful or [we] don’t. And that’s, in a sense, using beauty to gain more power in a certain way.”

Jane Pratt, Editor-in-Chief of 'Sassy':
“The models are six feet tall, weigh 95 pounds, and they’re blonde and they have blue eyes. All of them. Women don’t look like that.”

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 10

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jean paul gaultier

Designer Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris Fashion Week in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Season: 3 Episode: 12
Title: Paris Edition
Original Airdate: 12/18/91
Appearances: Jean Paul Gaultier, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Karl Lagerfeld, Ellen Von Unwerth

DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: JEAN PAUL GAULTIER IS AN ICON

From his TV interviews last fall with Lady Gaga to his current role as creative director of Diet Coke, few designers have become pop culture icons quite like Jean Paul Gaultier. It’s a marvel that the platinum-tressed couturier, who blazed onto the fashion scene in the '70s (he apprenticed under Pierre Cardin, launched his first prêt-à-porter collection in 1976 and went onto couture in 1999), has retained relevance and notoriety as the enfant terrible of the French fashion industry for over 30 years. In 1985, he introduced sharply cut, midi-length skirt suits for men; in the ’90s, he famously created the cone bra for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour. This year, the two tow-headed stars have joined forces again: Gaultier outfitted her Madgesty for the MDNA world tour.

In this segment, Cindy goes to Paris to discuss taboo, the origin of Gaultier's fixation with corsetry and his reasons for making gender-bending fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier is honest and affable with zero pretension and it’s easy to see why, all these decades later there’s still joy to be found in Gaultier’s designs. It's unsurprising that new and exciting talents like Gaga still clamor to work with him.

+ WATCH JEAN PAUL GAULTIER


RISE OF THE SUPERMODEL: LINDA EVANGELISTA

linda evangelista

Model Linda Evangelista in Chanel at Paris Fashion Week in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Maybe it’s because it’s the Paris fashion episode, or because it’s a couple of years after our first supermodel interview, but Linda is the first model we speak to who has a firm grasp on how famous she is. Also, it strikes me that she speaks in technical terms regarding her work not unlike an actor talking to James Lipton on Inside The Actor’s Studio. Linda always wanted to be a model, even as a child, and in this segment she makes the interesting claim that models—especially the supermodels of the time—are like actresses, except that they are captured in still images rather than moving pictures. It should also be noted that the distinction is important—some would go on to pursue successful acting careers and others would have more trouble with dialogue.

During the ’90s, as the names of models, photographers and even fashion editors became more well-known, the magazine cover was the domain of the model, and not of the actress, as it is these days. Linda cites her versatility as a reason she’s such a cover and ad campaign mainstay. Legendary photographer Steven Meisel (in a rare on camera interview) confirms this assessment, and praises how completely she immerses herself in each character. We see that a change in hair color and clothes alters her look drastically. Linda also says that her mercurial appearance makes up for her lack of “All-American appeal” since she doesn't have the “button nose” or the “wheat-colored hair” that was so popular when she was growing up in Ontario, Canada. It's funny because it never occurred to me that looking like Linda Evangelista could ever be a crutch. Especially in Ontario, Canada. JKJKJKJK.

+ WATCH LINDA EVANGELISTA


DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: PARIS FASHION WEEK

paris fashion week

Model Naomi Campbell in hair and makeup backstage at Paris Fashion Week in 1991.
Photo: MTV

We're backstage again, this time to unveil the secrets of Paris Fashion Week. There's a tangle of cameras jockeying for position on the press risers, and the close quarters reveal crews of models in various stages of preparation. Cindy dubs it as “glamorous as a supermarket sale,” and breaks down the math of how much the event costs: the invitations to “1800 fashion editors and 600 buyers in 42 countries,” the ushers, the location, the presents and, of course, the models. A single show can set a designer back $150,000, and the top-grossing girl can make upwards of $5,000 per show (this is, of course, in 1991 dollars and only an indication as to how much designers spend now). Christy Turlington justifies the math thusly: “When you look at it in terms of business and how much money we’re bringing in for companies, I think that our couple of thousand dollars are meager.” Karl Lagerfeld agrees: “They are the image-making persons of today," he says. "They are like the goddesses of the silent screen.”

Backstage, models are crammed beside racks, and everyone is smoking. On the runway for Spring 1992, we see frou-frou lace dusters for the pin-up, campy lingerie look. This is the year Chanel showed staid, predictable, box-suit silhouettes, but in cheeky pastel terry cloth. It’s also the season of Herve Leger’s first show. Michael Hutchence of INXS describes the prepping for such pageantry as “a hundred women getting ready for dinner—it’s terrifying.”

+ WATCH BACKSTAGE AT PARIS FASHION WEEK


DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: ELLEN VON UNWERTH'S 'ITALIAN VOGUE' SHOOT

ellen von unwerth

Photographer Ellen Von Unwerth in 1991.
Photo: MTV

This is a beautiful, fun segment that illustrates at several points, the difference between a fashion editorial with actresses and one case with models. If you’ve ever been on-set for a celebrity fashion shoot, you can immediately see the difference. Models know what they look like. If you’ve ever seen America’s Next Top Model, you’ll know how challenging it is for a subject to look fantastic, while engaging in an activity and how critical it is to be able to command body language and facial expressions according to the demands of the photographer. It's in intuition, experience and anticipating that shutter snap. Here Karen Mulder plays a raven-haired Jane Russell and Eva Herzigova plays Marilyn Monroe. They romp around in cars, lounge in a hotel room, and pose with loads of cigarettes. The models are in their element.

Ellen's easy way with models may stem from her starting her career as one. A burgeoning interest in photography led to a campaign with British designer Katharine Hamnett. Ellen is generally considered one of the most dynamic photographers in the fashion industry (both then and now), and it’s fascinating to see how relaxed and personable she is behind the camera. She smiles a lot and her instructions are either casually gestured or a single word left open for interpretation (like "flamenco"), and you can see why, when you’re half naked on a set or in public, Ellen’s style might be confidence building. It’s also what gives Ellen Von Unwerth’s photographs an immensely voyeuristic appeal. She lets the actions run while she chooses what to capture. The end result is often like a scene from a movie, and this Italian Vogue spread that's inspired by the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes may be stylized in costume but appears totally spontaneous.

+ WATCH ELLEN VON UNWERTH


+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 12

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cindy crawford

Cindy Crawford at the American 'Vogue' shoot with photographer Helmut Newton in Monte Carlo in 1991.
Photo: MTV

Season: 4 Episode: 17
Title: Best Of Edition
Original Airdate: 10/28/92
Includes segments from:

  • Cindy Crawford's Vogue Shoot With Helmut Newton In Monte Carlo (Episode 10)
  • VIDEO | PHOTO

  • Photographer Ellen Von Unwerth (Episode 12)
  • VIDEO | PHOTO

  • Niki Taylor's Vogue Shoot In Miami (Episode 14)
  • VIDEO | PHOTO

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mario testino

Photographer Mario Testino goes on a rainy day photo shoot in Milan in 1992.
Photo: MTV

Season: 6 Episode: 36
Title: Best Of Edition (Tribute To Fashion Photographers)
Original Airdate: 12/14/94
Includes segments from:

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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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