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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


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.



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.



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.”

“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.”

“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.”


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sheryl crow cindy crawford

Cindy Crawford goes shoe shopping with singer Sheryl Crow in 1994.
Photo: MTV

Season: 6 Episode: 35
Title: Winter Edition
Original Airdate: 11/9/94
Appearances: Sheryl Crow, Nadja Auermann, Kevyn Aucoin


Warning: This clip is filled with so much stellar mid-’90s John Fluevog shoe porn that it's nuts. It may or may nor compel you to fall into an eBay time-suck scouring for their throwbacks so be careful. Anyway, this segment is exactly what it sounds like: Cindy and Sheryl Crow hit up a bunch of New York shoe stores. What makes it interesting is that the two ladies are extra comfortable around each other, because they’ve entered into this tacit, mutual acknowledgement that they’re both a little square.

In the old Otto Tootsi Plohound shoe boutique, Sheryl longingly points at a pair of knee-high silver boots with shoelace eyelets that are modeled after ice-skate hooks, and remarks that someone like Kim Gordon would look great in them, but that she couldn’t pull them off. Cindy insists that Sheryl try them on, and even shares a boot-lacing shortcut. Sheryl mentions that she has corns on her toes because of years spent dancing backup for male headliners on tour. She pointedly notes that they insisted on tight clothes, which often meant uncomfortable heels as well. Cindy tries on a pair of lug-heeled sneakers.

Cindy calls John Fluevog the “funky shoe store,” and here they seem slightly intimidated by the 5” platform heels, thick straps and bright vinyl. I was hoping to see some sightings of the single buckled pilgrim strap “Munsters” that were huge in 1990 when Lady Miss Kier wore them on the Deee-Lite World Clique album cover, but was just as thrilled to see the sculpted heels on all the other classics at the flagship in 1995.

Then Sheryl and Cindy head to Steve Madden, where Sheryl falls in love with a pair of silver Mary Janes that she declares “Courtney Love.” Cindy even admits that she’s always wanted to try on some Puma Clydes. It may just be because Cindy’s feet were killing her and she needed something more comfortable, but it’s also sweet that she wanted to participate in a “cool” shoe movement of the day that was embodied by skate kids and the Beastie Boys. Sheryl comments on a pair that were so uncomfortable there’s no way any human could wear them, but Cindy’s quick to say that “those” club girls could and would. It’s almost as if Cindy is letting House of Style fans know that she’s aware of the trends, but that she'd never claim to be a part of any such subculture embodying them.



nadja auermann

Model Nadja Auermann in 1994.
Photo: MTV

This segment introduces the notion that, in order to build a supermodel, there is an algorithm of important components that must lock into place. Of course, with Nadja Auermann and her alarmingly long legs, we can’t ignore unusually beautiful preternatural traits, but then, there are other things to consider—like the importance of a model’s hair color.

Nadja’s memorable because of her stark white hair and her milky white skin. She can look anywhere from angelic to extraterrestrial; from a milk maid to a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. There’s something terrifyingly blank about Nadja’s expression and her chilly Teutonic disposition. Even in interviews, talking about something as pedestrian as knitting to kill time backstage, she seems like she’s got several other agendas churning simultaneously. It’s remarkable, therefore, how ordinary she looks with her former shoulder-length auburn hair. If not for a French Vogue shoot where they powdered a patch of hair white, she might never have discovered what made her look click. Even Nadja herself admits how uninspired her appearance had been before. It’s like every moment of truth in America’s Next Top Model: The girl who tries something drastic is often rewarded.

Nadja was memorable in the ’90s for her shoots with Helmut Newton and a particularly memorable one in American Vogue found her outfitted with metal scaffolding on her legs as if she’d had her bones pinned or was wearing a fashion brace. To my eyes, she’d never looked more like a Borg, but it was criticized for its insensitivity to those who were legitimately disabled.

Nadja, who grew up in West Berlin, is the first model interviewed for this series who talks about the effect of politics on her life. She believes education makes a good model, and you get the impression that, for some women, a career in modeling is a type of finishing school, where you develop poise, glamour and a self-possession that makes your beauty that much more scary.



kevyn aucoin

Designer Todd Oldham interviews makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin about his book, 'The Art of Makeup' in 1994.
Photo: MTV

On the release of Kevyn Aucoin’s new book, The Art of Makeup, Todd and Kevyn discuss the late makeup artist's origin story of growing up in Louisiana practicing makeup on his younger sister, and how he learned what worked best through simple trial and error. On beauty, Kevyn and Todd share a lot of the same philosophies, and even though Kevyn will cite curling eyelashes as his number 1 tip and mentions that shaping your brows (or “wrangling” as Todd calls it) is the most dramatic thing you can do short of cosmetic surgery to alter your face, his life philosophy is really all about confidence. Kevyn’s biggest fashion and beauty faux pas is being afraid of what other people will think of your look. It’s very much in keeping with what we know of Todd (whose hair is tousled beautifully this episode) and his message of self-love and overcoming fear and self-consciousness.



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linda evangelista

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

Season: 7 Episode: 38
Title: Best Of Edition (March Model Madness)
Original Airdate: 3/14/95
Includes segments from:

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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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Editorial Director
Sophia Rai
Staff Editor
Gaby Wilson
West Coast Editor
Chrissy Mahlmeister
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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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