New hosts Amber Valletta and Shalom Harlow in Episode 47 of 'House of Style' in 1996.
Season: 8 Episode: 47
Title: March Edition
Original Airdate: 3/11/96
Appearances: Shalom Harlow, Amber Valletta, Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto)
MODELS, THE NEXT GENERATION: OUR NEW HOSTS, SHALOM AND AMBER
There was a time in fashion when Shalom and Amber were a model crew unto themselves. They didn’t just pal around, they appeared on magazine covers together and even tag-teamed hosting duties for our show. And, of course, true to House of Style form, we figured the quickest way to get to know them was to rummage through their closets.They show us thrifted suits, Pucci skirts, Vivienne Westwood summer dresses and fur slippers, and introduce the uninitiated among us to the concept of deconstructed hems.
The best part is watching Amber and Shalom interact with each other. They’re huge nerds. Amber is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and has an easygoing, gangly way about her. She has bleach stains all over her favorite rock radio promo tee from home. Shalom reminds us with every vowel-heavy word that she’s SO Canadian. The way she pronounces “outfit” is incredibly endearing, and she repeats it enough that it could inspire a drinking game. It reminds us of how formal and nervous Cindy was before she became poised and comfortable, and the sign-off where Amber and Shalom say the salutation in tandem is exactly the corny thing Cindy would’ve objected to by the end of her tenure. It’s exciting to have these gorgeous yet oddly relatable girls at the helm.
+ WATCH AMBER VALLETTA AND SHALOM HARLOW
DEMOCRATIZING STYLE: THINGS THAT ARE COOL AND THINGS THAT SUCK
Things That Are Cool in 1996: Street Style Edition.
In an effort to be more approachable, instead of showing the best and worst of the runway, House of Style at this stage is starting to do broader market work to include “lifestyle” pieces like art and books. In 1996, we put our stamp of approval on white eyeliner, platform flip flops by Converse, the Taschen Cristo & Jeanne-Claude coffee table book, a photo print dress from Agnès B., hair color by Oribé, a hideous condom wall vase (an unfurled condom, affixed to a wall, that you could put a single bud in), and last but certainly not least guitar straps from Built By Wendy designer Wendy Mullin. These guitar straps were so popular among musicians like Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani while Wendy was going to FIT that they ended up spawning a clothing line. While the brick-and-mortar stores have been shuttered over last year and this year in favor of a web store, I remember how crucial it was at the time to have a jewel tone or navy pin-wale corduroy blazer of hers, because it looked great with everything and had lightly puffed and gathered sleeves that were flattering.
Things that suck are somewhat arbitrary. We rail against jelly shoes (remember the jellies with the chunk heels that Guess came out with and everyone ripped off? Everyone’s feet stank all summer), wearing vintage head-to-toe and something called “body glue.” You’ll notice that not a single trend comes from an established fashion house, and that everything is affordable to college kids.
+ WATCH THINGS THAT ARE COOL AND THINGS THAT SUCK
MUSIC AND FASHION: EATING OUT WITH CIBO MATTO
Dining out with Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto in 1996.
Cibo Matto was a big deal to me because before Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori showed up, the most ubiquitous Asian face in the fashion scene was either Anna Sui or Jenny Shimizu. It was nice to have some musicians in the mix, especially since female indie rockers at the time were so wonderfully kickass and these guys were so musically diverse. Cibo Matto was well ahead of the foodie trend, and their band (the name of which means “crazy food” in Italian) played zany songs on the subject of comestibles, with highly stylized, dreamy, surreal videos to match. Plus, there was rapping. It was refreshing to see them hanging out with Sean Lennon and the rest of the downtown cool kids, especially since they weren’t stereotypically glamorous as Asian pop stars were required to be in their respective countries at the time. Plus, it was awesome that they were both a little ESL, but could still be on MTV eating blueberry knishes at Yonah Schimmel.
For our eating tour, we visit Panna II, a.k.a. that Indian spot in the East Village with Christmas lights strung all over it; Kwanzaa for some West Indian stewed oxtail; the aforementioned knishes (which, according to Miho, taste “nostalgic”); and cheese fondue and elaborate desserts at Aureole. Yuka talks about how the girls’ relationship with food isn’t just a schtick, and that food composition and how a meal is wrapped up is a lot like the components of music. The group would eventually grow to five members (including Mr. Lennon), but would disband in 2001 only to reunite a decade later for a new album.
+ WATCH CIBO MATTO FOOD TOUR