Heroin Chic fashion trend.
Pale skin, dark circles under the eyes, a very slim body, dark red lipstick, stringy hair, and an angular bone structure were all hallmarks of heroin chic the popular trend in fashion photography in 1990s.
The 90s saw more widespread use of Heroin among the youngsters as the prices decreased and availability was freer in America.
Naturally, the trend crept openly into the most vulnerable of the drug-infused industries Fashion, music, and movies. The models being the first ones to adopt it gave the idea for a few photographers to openly display recklessness as an attitude and style statement for the young models and the outfits they projected. Model Gia Carangi shot to fame and became the first supermodel of America when she came out with the first Heroin Chic trend. The more vibrant models gave way to pale, dopey-eyed, dark lipsticked, trashy models with unkempt hairdo and black circles around their eyes. The model’s bodies were made to appear bruised and their makeup smudged as they looked incongruous in dark backdrops of dirty rooms or overgrown fields. Youngsters were able to associate more with the attitude and it naturally became the trend of the decade when it came to Fashion.
It also crept into the music scene with a new style of music Alternative rock or ‘Grunge’ as it is commonly called establishing itself and bands such as Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, and The Smashing Pumpkins shot to fame. Ironically all these bands have had a drug overdose death among their band members and the entire world’s attention gaining into it as Kurt Cobain the lead singer of Nirvana shot himself to death following a drug overdose.
The rebellious youngsters were attracted to the recklessness and the underlying lawlessness in the concept. Teenagers wearing Baggy pants, backward caps, and hooded jackets were represented in the music videos and movies during the times mostly peddling drugs or engaging in neighborhood shootouts.
The movie scene
It took the industry by storm when Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction movie’s poster came out with Uma Thurman in a Heroin Chic getup smoking a joint. The movies took up the trend quite literally with a lot of movies that coming out during the era openly glamorizing and glorifying the trend of Heroin snorting, rebellious and lawless culture among the youngsters.
The Heroin chic's context of internalized violence, dark and illicit pleasures became increasingly controversial and drew scorn from various spheres of society. It was seen as a symptom of cultural anxiety, and as fashion's contradictory position to explore the uncomfortable themes of alienation, deathliness, and beauty. The representations of reality and fiction or progressiveness and Lawlessness were becoming more and more blurred than ever with the trend catching up. President Bill Clinton created quite a media furor when he said "You do not need to glamorize addiction to sell clothes," he further asserted. "The glorification of heroin is not creative, it's destructive. It's not beautiful, it's ugly".
The end of a trashy trend.
With the deaths of Kurt Cobain and young fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti, due to drug overdose, the trend in fashion was discouraged and established as a desperate effort. It slowly was conceived as an unhealthy and trashy way to promote material and outfits and thus finally leading to the end of an era of Reckless fashion.