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elizabeth berkley

Inside 'Showgirls' star Elizabeth Berkley's closet in 1995.
Photo: MTV

Season: 7 Episode: 42
Title: Back To School Edition
Original Airdate: 9/11/95
Appearances: Elizabeth Berkley, Stephanie Seymour, Veronica Webb, Victoria Bartlett, Stephen Sprouse

DEMOCRATIZATION OF STYLE: A CLOSET TOUR WITH ELIZABETH BERKLEY

If you grew up watching Saved by the Bell and knew Elizabeth Berkley as Jessie Spano, you were probably deeply curious to see how she’d fare as the lead in the Paul Verhoeven movie Showgirls. The film is a campy celebration of Vegas debauchery, schlocky acting, eating dog food, and full frontal nudity, with a lot of explicit sex.

We catch up with Elizabeth Berkley a few weeks before the release of the NC-17 cult classic, and you can tell she’s eager for the image change. She’s ready to shed the do-gooding, overachieving high-school version of herself, and is very much dressing the part. She shows off the difference between the flannel shirts, jeans and boots (or her “Midwest look” as she calls it) that she keeps in her closet for her visits home, and seems proud of her vinyl trouser collection. She’s partial to shiny clothing in general, as we see when she models a shocking red color vinyl trench.

Elizabeth talks about how much she loves Betsey Johnson floral dresses, and then plays dress-up in a shrunken sweater and pencil skirt, and later in a long red satin “chinois” dress with a slit to the thigh. She considers the first an homage to Old Hollywood glamour, and then muses that the red dress is a good option for a date. She’s in man-eater mode as she discusses stripper heels, and while this is all an exhibition to highlight how she’s changed, the earnestness is endearing. As a viewer you have mixed feelings and feel slightly protective of how she seems unaware that she’s just starred in a hilarious and highly entertaining porno.

+ WATCH ELIZABETH BERKLEY'S CLOSET


DEMYSTIFYING THE FASHION INDUSTRY: THE FIRST VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW

victoria's secret fashion show

The first Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in 1995.
Photo: MTV

Long before Adam Levine performances, million-dollar bras and winged angels who commanded hefty checks to walk in a show televised to millions of viewers on network television, there was the very first Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The goal was simple: to bring the popular lingerie and clothing catalog to life.

It looks like a tasteful trunk show in some regards. Held at New York’s Plaza Hotel, the models are elegant and recognizable: We speak with catalog mainstays Frederique, Stephanie Seymour and Veronica Webb about the goings-on. They’re dutifully respectful and appreciative of the efforts taken to produce the show. We speak to a Victoria’s Secret executive briefly as well, and while the company has been enormously successful in building the entertainment value of show in subsequent years, the most interesting thing about this dialed-down, straightforward production is the styling.

Victoria Bartlett, the stylist, is a genius, and it’s no wonder she went on to be the fashion editor of Allure, the fashion director of Interview and a designer in her own right with the creation of VPL (and the diffusion line VPL2 that counts Victoria Beckham, Gwen Stefani and Tilda Swinton among its fans). It’s no small feat to create a mood or an entire lifestyle around lingerie, and Bartlett pairs matching bra and panty sets with robes and cardigans and even re-imagines slips and half-slips as dresses and skirts by pairing them with shoes, handbags, cuffs and gloves.

The trend is one we’ve seen before, but taking “underwear as outerwear” and making it work for a somewhat conservative client is a shrewdly navigated balancing act. None of the slips betray a sluttiness that a grunge take on the trend would’ve evoked. This is carefully executed fashion for the mainstream, and the key here is skewing ladylike and respectable by keeping things slightly costumey (no one is wearing a baby tee with bikini panties, a handbag and driving gloves to work) with an sustained seriousness.

+ WATCH BACKSTAGE AT THE FIRST VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW


STEPHEN SPROUSE STYLES THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME MUSEUM

stephen sprouse

Designer Stephen Sprouse visits the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in 1995.
Photo: MTV

Stephen Sprouse once again bridges the gap between fashion and music by taking on the very specific job of styling the mannequins that will stand in the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. Interestingly enough, you don’t have to be inducted to appear in the museum, and Sprouse uses this to pick and choose his favorites for the contemporary music section. It’s marvelous to have a fashion and music nerd with a clear sense of taste to curate the museum, and he’s obviously thrilled at the prospect of dispatching a team of museum-caliber preservationists to protect random stains on the destroyed rock tees. That man-hours will be devoted to maintaining the integrity of snot, blood and beer stains is kinda thrilling.

Mannequins created to exactly resemble riot girl members of L7 have their roots dyed dark on artificial hair to mimic their style precisely. Plastic baby barrettes from the dollar store are flown in and then meticulously clipped according to drawings sent by the musicians, and we even have anatomically correct mannequins (they have penises instead of a Ken doll bump) to fill skintight pants.

There are outfits from Elton John, The Fat Boys, Sid Vicious (Stephen is quick to point out the Sex label on his original Vivienne Westwood bondage pants) and Debbie Harry. The Debbie Harry dress is the first thing he’d ever made for her, and he reminisces that he’d cut the dress so short that it had to be weighted down with safety pins. There are shell-toes from Run-DMC and a tab of acid from Janis Joplin; Sprouse idles on the mannequin of Trent Reznor, who will be covered in real mud in upcoming weeks to evoke his mud-slung performance at Woodstock. It’s thrilling to get to see what it takes to be a curator (a term that in this case is used correctly) for such an anthropologically exacting exhibit, and Sprouse looks like a kid in a candy store.

+ WATCH STEPHEN SPROUSE ROCK N' ROLL HALL OF FAME


+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 42

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las vegas showgirls

Makeup tips from Las Vegas showgirls in 1995.
Photo: MTV

Season: 7 Episode: 44
Title: Las Vegas Edition
Original Airdate: 11/27/95
Appearances: Las Vegas showgirls

DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: MAKEUP TIPS FROM SHOWGIRLS

With regard to beauty, there are two schools of thought amongst Vegas showgirls: eyebrows or no eyebrows. In this segment, we visit Las Vegas and go backstage to reveal makeup secrets of showgirls. None of them is applicable to real life (back in 1995 or now) unless you’re giving showgirl realness as a very well-blended drag queen, but it’s fascinating to see the tricks and shortcuts applied to a faceful of powders, creams and colors. Some girls swear by removing their brows because they like to vary the shape and color according to the mood required in the show. An arch denotes anger or tempestuousness, while a rounder curve indicates that the character is more subdued. Some even use a red lip pencil as liner on their lids and lips in order to match.

Whether your brows are drawn in or not, makeup time can run anywhere form 20 minutes to over an hour, and the advice varies from not having your eyeliner extend past your brow to having a “mobile mole”: a traveling beauty spot that disguises blemishes. It’s captivating to watch makeup routines that are enacted in the cloistered environment of a Las Vegas show, since they’re totally unrelated to the trends of the time. You may find the painstaking results appealing or garish, but you can’t knock the effort.

+ WATCH SHOWGIRL MAKEUP TIPS


DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: LAS VEGAS SPECIALTY BOUTIQUES

At first you'd think this would be a segment that would be more at home on a travel show, especially given the butch, gravelly voiceover but the bit I love is that we visit with Ms. Rita Hart at Quality Liquidators where they sell furniture from closed down hotels and casinos (and please also check out Rita's windbreaker ensemble because it's amazing), Stephen C. Serge, the proprietor of Serge's Showgirl Wigs and Mordechai Yerushalmi a.k.a. Jeweler to the Stars. It's exactly the sort of anthropologically marvelous stuff I'd want to hit up if I visited a touristy spot. Plus, we've got a clip of Marty Scorsese talking watches.

+ WATCH LAS VEGAS HISTORY


DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: TODD GOES TCHOTCHKE SHOPPING

Trust Todd Oldham to hit up Las Vegas in doubled up animal print (python satin shirt and leopard print pants) to shop at the "largest emporium of crap." We look at numerous wedding-themed bauble, every manner of Elvis gee-gaw and a slew of naked lady pens.

+ WATCH TODD OLDHAM SHOP IN LAS VEGAS


DEMYSTIFYING FASHION: THE SPRING '96 RUNWAYS

The middle of the decade showed strong color, pattern, and texture for spring. Neons, lurid burn out patterned velvet, lace, sequins, ostrich feathers, plaids, stripes, and a ton of zebra print. Silhouettes were either mega diaphanous like slinky satin and clingy chiffon or else super structured with denim and khaki showing up in everything from suiting to onesies. Baby tees and halters continued to rage (they'd be big all through the '90s) and navel gazed all the exposed midriffs from Anna Sui to Gaultier and even Chanel. Knee-shorts were hot but hot pants were hotter, but the takeaway might be that white-girl cornrows and dreads were a thing and that's just real :(

+ WATCH SPRING '96 FASHION WEEK SHOWS


+ CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM EPISODE 44

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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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