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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Mirrored from Repro Goddess.

I was recently watching the 1996 adaption of Evita, mostly for Antonion Bandaras who is too pretty for his own good, but also because I just love the film even if the pacing is weird at the beginning and it sometimes feels a bit disjointed.

I was never a big fan of the play, though I love Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, I thought that they fell too far to one side or the other politically and I never have enjoyed being preached at which is why I didn’t see the film when it first came out.

But over the last few years I’ve grown to be a big fan of it, I think that – though Madonna doesn’t have the pipes Patti does – her rendition of Eva Peron was far more sympathetic and that comes through in her singing. She allows you to feel for Evita, which is what I think the major problem with the original play was. LuPone is far too strong, and she played Eva that way (as well as treating Juan Peron like a puppet to his wife’s ambition, which makes for somewhat cliche storytelling in a play whether or not it’s true).

While she put in a killer performance I had, and still have, a really hard time watching it and sympathizing with the portrayal or that of Juan (played so brilliantly and sympathetically in the film by the amazing Jonathan Pryce of Pirates of the Caribbean fame). In fact the multidimensional acting in the film, I feel, corrects somethiing about the play that nobody realized needed to be corrected. Side by side examples from the play and film are below – both from the same song, my favorite, A New Argentina from Evita:

But I’m not writing about Evita, but about Madonna. I’m often struck by her amazing style and her ability to reinvent herself before she becomes self parody (most of the time, anyway).

She’s never been on the cutting edge of fashion – most would disagree with me, I suspect, especially her fans. But I say this because so much of her style (especially in the 80s) was only tinged with modern fashion. Much like the uber talented, uber gorgeous Cyndi Lauper, Madonna wasn’t following current trends of the time.

Her style was distinctly New York City. Her hair wasn’t the feathered Jem hair or masculine Joan Jett hair you were used to seeing on MTV, she wore layer upon layer of different lengths to create depth in her style and somehow always managed to be wearing next to nothing. She wore lace, rubber, crosses and belly shirts and visible bras when the rest of the music world were still wearing out the welcome of scarves, sweaters and wings.

It was almost as if fashion wasn’t allowed to change until Madonna showed up and gave it permission to. She rode out her underwear-as-outerwear, fishnet clothing and booties until it had been embraced by the population of, practically, the world. Then it was time for a change.

Towards the middle of the 80s we saw her style take a decisive left turn – to the golden era. Now, granted, almost all 80s retrowear was tinged with a 1980s fashion sense, but Madonna seemed to barely let it permeate her new style – that is, when she was wearing it.

Early on we’d seen her don a gorgeous pink gown in her video for Material Girl ( now the name of her cute, 80s-inspired clothing line with daughter Lola ) – but that could have been a fluke. Just a homage to the late Marilyn Monroe, obviously, but not possibly a hint at future style choices?

Over the last half of the decade and the first half of the new she also started taking roles in films that were primarily set in the 30s and 40s – roles ranging from the iconic Dick Tracy to maybe the worst film ever made, Shanghai Surprise which she made with her then husband Sean Penn.

Madonna has displayed a serious 40s streak. You can see it everywhere from her choices of film to dress. Not just that of Eva Perone (a style icon in her own right, no matter what you think of her politics), or as All The Way Mae in A League of Their Own, but in several of her music videos and clothes she’s worn on red carpets.

Some great examples are her music videos for Live to Tell, Material Girl and This Used To Be My Playground which, of course, is the ending theme song to A League of Their Own and probably has the most directly 40s inspired looks in it. You can even see some vintage/retro influences in what she’s wearing/singing during her Blond Ambition Tour and in videos like Vogue (if you know what to look for). And, ooh, look! I’ve got pictures!

Dick Tracy (1990)

A League of Their Own (1992)

Shanghai Surprise (1986)

Evita (1995)

Evita Premiere (1996)

Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Live to Tell (1986 – Screencaptures)

This Used To Be My Playground (1992 – Screencaptures)

Surprise Oprah! A Farewell (2011)

Costume Institute Gala (2011)

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Mirrored from Repro Goddess.

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