The First Lady of Grunge

Posted by Meghan
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(L) Courtney Love at the premiere of "The Grinch," 2000. (R) Courtney Love for Superfine London by Jan Welters, 2003.

Editors note: Courtney has shopped with us several times - she is a HUGE vintage advocate and collector so it is with extra love I send out this post written by our contributor Meghan.Courtney may come across as a little whacky at times but she has the biggest heart and is one of the nicest sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure to know

Courtney Love is an often overlooked style icon. Back when I was in high school and discovering feminism and riot grrrl, my wardrobe strove to look like a mashup between items previously belonging to Courtney Love and a Comme des Garçons archive (two seemingly incongruent goals that I somehow managed to work out). I think she gets thrown under the bus a little bit because she’s always been a bit of a mess (I love her for it). She’s not the kind of refined beauty that Anna Wintour would exalt by any means, but she certainly deserves her place in the history of style. Love was known for dressing in the kinderwhore style which originated amongst the riot grrrl and grunge bands of the Pacific Northwest in the 90s.

The look consisted of babydoll dresses, knee highs, Mary Jane shoes, barrettes, bows––all things girly. The infantilized look was subverted by heavy makeup, ripped stockings, messy hair, combat boots, and a generally disheveled appearance. The inverted Lolita was an embodiment of the feminist statement these women were trying to make, calling out the societal infantilization of women that likewise denied them any personal agency. Courtney Love has admitted she didn’t invent the look but she is the catalyst for kinderwhore’s popularization. Her grunge babydoll look has also been very influential on fashion itself, especially designers Meadham Kirchhoff whose S/S 2012 collection was inspired by Ms. Love.

Even if that look isn’t your bag, in the late 90s/ early 2000s when Love had cleaned herself up a bit and was a regular on the red carpet circuit, she turned out some extremely elegant looks. The white Versace dress she wore to the 1997 Oscars is perhaps one of my favourite red carpet looks of all time. Courtney Love will probably always be a bit of a fashion pariah, whether she’s a kinderwhore or a red carpet siren, but that’s fine by me. She may be no Jackie O, but who needs pristine all the time anyway?

(L) Courtney Love with her band Hole, 1993. (R) Courtney Love at Reading Festival, 1994.


(L) Courtney Love by Juergen Teller for i-D, April 1994. (R) Courtney Love by Jeffrey Thurnher, 1994.


(L) Courtney Love, 1995. (R) Courtney Love and Amanda de Cadnet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, 1995.



Meadham Kirchhoff S/S 2012.


(L) Courtney Love in Versace, Oscars, 1997. (R) Courtney Love in Vivienne Westwood.


(L) Courtney Love in Miu Miu S/S 2010 at the Brit Awards, 2010. (R) Courtney Love at the amfAR Inspiration Gala, 2011.



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