Although my birth date solidifies my place in the “child of the 90s” arena and warrants an endless “Only Real 90s Kids” listicle perusing, the really good parts of the 90s sailed over my head. To this day I have never seen an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and chokers were already on their way out before I was even wearing underwear.
So if we are being honest, the Supermodels of the 90s, arguably the best part of the decade, were not really on my radar during their prime. Yet in many ways, that is what made them so special.
Growing up in a California suburb awash with Abercrombie & Fitch, I clung to Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz as a way to exist outside of the pressure to fit in. While the brand-centric trends of the 2000s were in full swing, I could open my mother’s old copies of Vogue and be transported to a world where women molded the fashion industry to fit them, not the other way around.
The 90s supermodel wore what she pleased — a diamond encrusted bra or raincoat over bathing suit or nothing at all, whatever. And the best part was that it was never her outfit that stole the show. Even when Kate Moss showed up in a see-through dress, or when Linda Evangelista donned a kilt, you always saw the model before you saw what she was wearing. It may be antithetical to the pervasive idea in fashion that you are what you wear, but man, it worked.
So today, on the 4th of July, we think not of their lack of timelessness (the 90s ended, and these women had to grow up, too), but rather we remember and we celebrate: the attitudes that came before the bathing suits and the clothes, the winks that informed a gargantuan world of opportunity and the photographs that motivated an on-the-cusp-of-90s kid to get up, grow up and try to make it happen.