Oct. 15th, 2011

I’ve gone on a bit of a 90s kick today, listening to my old favorites while I build the SEO of one of GMG’s new corporate sites – “Bent” by Matchbox 20, “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis, “Semicharmed Life” by 3rd Eye Blind, even a little Semisonic and Sugar Ray thrown in there for good measure.

Man those songs bring back memories. Driving aimlessly around the tiny town square in a crappy station wagon with my stupid friends who are all either married or have kids now, neither of which was in the cards for me. Breezy summer evenings walking the deserted roads to each other’s houses, complaining about whatever it was we complained about back then. Afternoons spent in bare feet down in the creek with our jeans rolled up, acting half our age. The air seemed thicker then, the sun was warmer and the sky was higher. That’s just the way it is when you’re 17. I’m sure you remember it, too, don’t you?

I was a weird nerdlinger goth of the Hackers generation. Like the rest of my friends I was half X-Games, half The Craft in wide leg black corduroy pants (cords!), Airwalks and floral embroidered tube tops. Black leather pants, velvet skirts with slits, platform wedges. I remember going to a store and heading right for the black every time. I had purple hair in tiny pigtails, black lips and nails, a zillion black rubber bracelets and ball chains and a penchant for crosses and dog collars.

I watched Buffy. I shopped Just Nikki. I made websites. I even stank of CK One, but in my defense? We all did. And those summers make me love it to this day.

Of course no 90s flashback would be complete without Gwen Stefani, the bindi-wearing, platinum blond, ever youthful front woman of ska/alt-rock band No Doubt who’s album Tragic Kingdom still gets constant radio airplay over a decade after it’s release.

Gwen’s style may, to the casual observer, seem all over the place. She’s sported Indian-style sarong and bindi, mega wide leg pants and cropped tops which slid into a more Jamaican color influence in the early 2000s. She’s done scantily clad Gothic Lolita to pay homage to her much loved Japan, Road Warrior and even cyberpunk wear has popped up.

But while Gwen definitely hops around the spectrum, she tends to go back to the Golden Age over and over again. We see this influence lightly pepper her old bombshell Gen X looks that had a decidedly Rockabilly edge to them. She made the red lip glamorous again, simple eyes and a well defined brow that all stood out against white locks and skin.

She wore an adorable polka-dot mini dress with a very 40s shape (even with the 90s twists) in the now iconic music video for No Doubt’s signature tune, “Don’t Speak” way back in 1996 that was written by Gwen and Eric Stefani and famously – publicly – deals with Gwen’s breakup from No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal.

Later on in the same music video Gwen’s vintage style resurfaces during a photo shoot that the rest of her band is muscled out of (They looked mad. They must have all really wanted that orange…) and is wearing her famed bindi, red lip mini-smear and finger waves – not something you necessarily saw in the media at the time.

Her Rockabilly and Golden Age love would come out several times in her style, even after her clothing had changed she managed to keep her pompadours, curls, rolls, waves and those beautiful platinum tresses.

One of my favorite examples of this is in the video for Cool, also about Tony Kanal and Gwen’s relationship – though, this time it’s a nostalgic look back rather than entirely painful or intense as Don’t Speak.

In the video Gwen is visited by an old flame and his new love, and during their visit she reflects on her very late 40s/early 50s life with him back in the “dreaming days”. Her clothes are summery and beautiful in the flashbacks, very vintage looking. In the ‘present’ day, she dons a fabulous Rockabilly look. She even channels Marilyn Monroe during some pretty intense, very sexy eye contact with the camera that involves rolling around on her bed in tap pants – no, I’m not making that up.

If nothing else, the lighting, color filters and scenery in the flashback scenes should be Zen for anyone who’s as into beautiful old postcards as I am.

The song is gorgeous, the girl is gorgeous, the clothes are gorgeous. I can’t explain it to you any better than this:

Gwen’s major film debut was also very vintage-y. She played Jean Harlow in the 2004 period Howard Hughes film The Aviator.

This film is one of my favorite period films from Hollywood’s Golden Age due not only to amazing sets and fantastic cast (Leonardo DiCaprio was great in the film, but I think everyone was outshone by Cate Blanchett playing Katharine Hepburn and just nailing the voice completely), but it’s also a favorite of mine for the outstandingly beautiful costume design and the care they took to try and make sure the clothing, hair and makeup were correct for the time and the person wearing it.

She’s barely in the trailer for The Aviator at all, even though she has a decent sized role in the film (chalk that up to Hollywood’s ridiculous trailer cutting but the film itself is fabulous ). So, since it’s hard to catch her in the trailer I thought it might be fun to post this instead:

What’s your favorite Gwen look? I have to admit to personally loving the bathing suit from Cool – I am a vintage swimwear fiend!

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