THE ULTIMATE GRUNGE STYLE GUIDE
20th February 2017. Kurt Cobain would have celebrated his 50th birthday. The Nirvana frontman cemented his place in fashion and music history long before he came to take his own life in April 1994.
Aided by his often nonchalant demeanour, his Seattle thrift store and middle-American mall bought ensembles looked effortlessly thrown together without so much as a thought and have influenced generations of clothing designers ever since. This legacy would perhaps be the hardest for Cobain to stomach ifhe was here to see it.
Although privately very conscious about his image as his star grew, he was the antithesis of fashion; his clothing choices weren’t superficial but out of necessity.
In this feature, we examine the birth of grunge and the Seattle style of the early 90s, break down the now iconic items that came to define Cobain’s timeless image and explore the inner workings of this endlessly creative mind.
THE CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
THE HAIR METAL GRUNGE PARADOX
Text_Gary Warnett Illustration_Goodhood Creative
In Penelope Spheeris’ 1988 big hair, bad behaviour chronicle ‘The Decline of Western Civilisation Part II: The Metal Years’ — a sequel to an earlier documentary scattered with Kurt Cobain approved bands like Fear and Black Flag — we see superstars and aspiring posers alike engaging in absolute excess. Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip becomes the ground zero for misbehaviour. Members of Poison and W.A.S.P. appear, as well as forgotten bands like London (whose changing roster included future members of Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses). It looks appealing, but utterly doomed — not simply because of the rampant alcoholism and drug use, but because we as the viewer are fully aware of a seismic shift at the decade’s close. It simply isn’t sustainable physically or culturally.