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cindy crawford

Cindy Crawford goes backstage to find out what models think of posing nude in 1994.
Photo: MTV

Season: 6 Episode: 31
Title: Swimsuit Edition
Original Airdate: 6/9/94
Appearances: Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Helena Christensen, Calvin Klein, Manon Rhéaume, Kim Gordon, Daisy Von Furth, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze

DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: THE NUDITY DEBATE

Fashion is one thing, but for this segment House Of Style interviews Cindy Crawford, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Helena Christensen and Niki Taylor on the subject of modeling nothing: in other words, posing nude. Of the models, Niki is the only one who opts out of nudity entirely: “My body’s for my man.” Cindy talks about her decision to do Playboy because it exposes her to a new audience that may not read fashion magazines (but who obviously get Playboy for the articles). Kate talks about the appeal of her Obsession ads, with Calvin Klein chiming in to comment on the sensual nature of perfume and how challenging it can be to sell a feeling. He believes the Obsession ads are compelling not just for the nudity, but for the expression on Kate Moss’s face.

Many of the models agree that your relationship with the photographer — and the resulting level of confidence and comfort — is a huge part of why they’d choose to do nude campaigns or editorial; they appear genuinely confused about the backlash. A nude Allure cover image got the magazine banned in some parts of California, and Helena’s topless campaign for Express Jeans led to some store boycotts. Stephanie Seymour sizes up the experience best when she equates nude photos with getting a tattoo: It’s permanent, and can haunt you forever, so you have to take your time to do it right, make sure you’re protected and ensure that the photos are done in good taste.

DEMOCRATIZING FASHION: KEVIN MANCUSO'S HAIR TIPS

kevin mancuso

Summer hairstyles by hairstylist Kevin Mancuso in 1994.
Photo: MTV

To be a teen in the ’90s is to know what it’s like to have a ridiculous hairstyle (or a series of them). It was the era of tiny hair barrettes, over-complicated pigtails, white-girl dreads and French twists. In this how-to hair segment, we have celebrity stylist Kevin Mancuso (trusted stylist to Natalie Portman and Taylor Swift in Central Park, displaying the bemusing summer up-dos that were all the rage in 1994. One liberally employs brightly-colored pipe cleaners. Another involves tiny Björk-style rave twists piled on the crown of the head with ends hanging down to create a fringe. Then there’s the repeated teasing and spraying that felts sections of hair into loose dreadlocks. Finally, there’s a side-parted, gelled, sleek look, with a wee pompadour for a rock-hard coif.

+ WATCH KEVIN MANCUSO ON SUMMER HAIR

POP CULTURE AND FASHION: MANON RHÉAUME, THE FIRST LADY OF HOCKEY, MODELS

manon rheaume

Professional female hockey player Manon Rhéaume in 1994.
Photo: MTV

Applying what the boys of Dirt magazine did in their fashion editorial, here we use clothing to call attention to someone regular House of Style viewers may not be familiar with. Manon Rhéaume was the first lady of hockey. A Quebec native, she started skating at 3, and was the first woman to sign to a professional team in 1992 when she joined the Tampa Bay Lightning. She’s the OG Roller Derby Girl and famously turned down an offer to pose nude in Playboy. She also happens to be beautiful.

Here, Manon models Patricia Field and Antique Boutique on the ice. There are metallic jackets with leggings; tiny denim shorts and shrunken shirts; mini-skirts and pigtails. The infantilizing (or “kinderwhore”) trend that was huge in the ’90s is kinda a buzzkill, since Rhéaume’s strong and talented, and the costume changes are interspersed with interviews with her male teammates, talking about her incredible capability and athleticism. In one portion, Rhéaume’s skating around eating a soft-serve ice cream cone, and it looks sort of porn-y. But then she takes a spill and lands on her ass in the changing room, cracking up riotously over the splat of ice cream on the floor, which makes you fall right back in love with her.

+ WATCH MANON RHÉAUME

STREET STYLE: X-GIRL FASHION SHOW

sofia coppola spike jonze

Milkfed designer Sofia Coppola and video director Spike Jonze at the X-Girl streetwear fashion show in 1994.
Photo: MTV

X-Girl is the sister line to the X-Large brand, and to commemorate the launch of the collection designed by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and stylist Daisy von Furth, the crew throw a renegade fashion show on Wooster Street, across from Marc Jacobs’s show, produced by indie darlings Sofia Coppola and then-boyfriend Spike Jonze. It is an unspeakably cool gambit: There’s a white sheet spray painted with the logo strung up in the background, and a milling crowd comprised of the likes of Zoe Cassavetes, Donovan Leitch, Francis Ford Coppola, The Beastie Boys, J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., and My So-Called Life Christmas ghost Juliana Hatfield. Once the Marc Jacobs show lets out, Steven Meisel, Anna Sui, Bill Cunningham, Linda Evangelista and Linda’s then-boyfriend actor Kyle MacLachlan join the others. Actress Ione Skye (then married to Adam Horovitz) models, as does downtown “It” girl Chloë Sevigny. The director Mike Mills designed the X-Girl logo, and most of the clothes resemble thrifted sportswear pieces. There are carefully cut T-shirts that are inspired by deadstock football jerseys, tennis shirts, and ringer tees (a.k.a. the “uniform for indie rockers”). The two founding designers and Chloë Sevigny were the fit models, so the clothes run small, but the focus of the abbreviated clothes is not on being conventionally sexy. The A-line silhouette of the mini-skirts and thigh-skimming dresses was intended to be flattering, but Gordon and von Furth’s design philosophy eschewed lycra because it was too clingy. Built by Wendy's Wendy Mullin also worked on several of the first collections. She has a scrapbook on her site that recounts some of those early days, and she reminisces on how Kurt Cobain's death had happened so close to the show that it cast a pall over the excitement in the hours leading up to the event.

It’s interesting to note that a lot of the more mall-ready clothes of the era, from Judy’s to Contempo Casuals, featured a lot of slippery, tight near-100% lycra compositions for their baby dolls. X-Girl was more about architectural construction: The short-sleeved, crew-neck dresses were cut narrow but not tight, in order to graze the body without confining it. It was a nod to the crispness of mod, as was the choice for all the models to wear flats. Von Furth also makes sure to note that their trousers are low-slung and intended for the skater girl who does not have to relegate herself to wearing oversized boy’s pants that are not made for her physique. The stove-pipe leg is carried throughout, but with a low-slung, tighter fit around a waist with a flattering, thick band. Gordon is notably 7 months pregnant with a daughter she says she hopes is a riot grrl.

X-Girl was important because it was cool enough to be exclusive and fetch a hefty, limited-edition price tag, but none of the pieces ran north of $60 — a fact that was important to von Furth, who says that most of her peers buy their clothes at vintage stores. She is an obvious fashion and construction nerd, rattling off the exact years the clothes evoke; her deceptively simple design features contributed significantly to the line’s popularity.

X-Girl stores have closed since the production of this segment, though the label still exists in Japan. A collaboration with Nike Sportswear was only available in Japan; there have also been collaborations with various bag brands. Two years after this show, von Furth is quoted in Vice about her styling work on a recent story in Dirt: “There was this cute kid named Mark Ronson [ed note: !!!!!] and it was about the lost generation of 1978… Alligator shirts and puffy down jackets and Rod Lavers.” Kim Gordon continues to work in fashion as well, and collaborated with Surface to Air in 2012. But this segment in 1994 is a huge moment in terms of the way mainstream fashion is being upstaged by streetwear, and how the power dynamic has shifted from the runway to the cool kids downtown. At one point, Sofia points out, somewhat facetiously, “You too can have a fashion show.” The words are enormously prophetic.

+ WATCH X-GIRL FASHION SHOW

+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 31

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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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