Recently, during a particularly dry spell on my social outings, I found myself in bed skimming through Netflix when I found ( or more correctly, rediscovered) Empire Records.
Some might say I am just a tad too young ( I was born in 92 and the movie was released in 95) to have been influenced by the film, which sent all angry teenagers at the time to buy vinyls and checked skirts all at once. However, as a true millennial, it comes at time during your adolescence where nostalgia invades and you go on a binge watch on everything released from 1980 onwards. You crave old school romance with a twist of rebellion and subversion as well as killer soundtracks and a style that transcended the silver screen.
Liv Tyler was the epitome of the 90s. Young, beautiful, daughter of a rock star and friends with the other epitome of the 90s, Alicia Silverstone. Together they beard the crown as teenage idols, skipping school and racing on a convertible in Aerosmith’s Crazy (school uniforms, lingerie and a striptease on a lake included). Tyler and Silverstone went on to embody 90s youth, rebellious and carefree, setting an style not only in their films but also in photoshoots and covers for important publications. Rolling Stone and The Face featured the stars in 1993 and 1995. Liv Tyler was photographed by Lara Rossignol and Bruce Webber captured Alicia Silverstone for Interview Magazine in 1993.
Long hair, middle parting, high waisted pants, cropped tops and high doses of attitude exude from their portraits, as well as a need to learn by experience, do it all now, and fast. A combination between fear of growing up as well as a need to act adult and mature characterized this generation, portraying their actresses as Lolita style sex symbols, all provocation and pubescent clothing whilst asking of them to deal accordingly with the fame and recognition.
The 90s were a decade of change, powered by the social and aesthetic liberation of the 80s. Their movies not only give shape to what it was like to be a teenager, surrounded by social clicks, drugs and expectations but also gave voice to individuality, the pursuit of the true self. Music and style were the two tools available and extensively used to develop a distinctive persona and why they became iconic in each film of the decade. Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone transcended their characters in Empire Records and Clueless and became style icons in their own right, inspiring a whole generation of youths to toss their school uniforms on a search for individuality, let that be through clothing, music or any other art form available. But never without the sass.