Long before the popularity, overuse and abuse of the terms “street style” or “indie,” there existed an ultimate ‘90s New York fashion moment in time that had nothing to do with grunge and little to do with Marc Jacobs save for a few cameos, but we’ll get to that shortly.
A brand borne of true vintage sensibilities, the youthful street-savvy answer to ill-fitting jeans and oversized flannel of ‘90s youth culture developed by a ‘90s dream team of sorts that includes Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, stylist Daisy von Furth, Chloe Sevigny, Mike Mills, Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonez to name a few players. In hindsight it seem like a who’s who of ‘90s New York, seeing how so many went on to become famous creators in their respective fields. Accounts of how the X-Girl line came to be reads as a pure organic experiment between creative minds on the campus-like playground that was Lower East Side and East Village. I’m of course talking about cult hit X-Girl, the women’s wear line spawned from The Beastie Boy’s Los Angeles brand, X-Large that amassed a loyal core following before being sold to a company in Japan in 1998.
Von Furth and Gordon were bonded through their love for vintage t-shirts and deadstock. They would go shopping for the perfect vintage 1970s t-shirts at thrift shops around New York. Due to their style sensibilities and Von Furth’s connection to X-Large’s NY location they were asked to design the line in 1993. The clothes were preppy and a lot of emphasis was place on fit and bettering, tweaking and perfecting production value. For more in-depth details, as it is a fascinating tale of true underground creative collaboration, Paper Magazine published a wonderful article titled The Oral History of X-Girl in which all contributors tell their unique experience of that time. Mills, who designed a lot of imagery for the line tells the magazine that the first thing Gordon showed him was Joseph Szabo images of teenagers from the 1970s, pointing out the “sullen teenagerness” of it all. At the center of the brand ideology was a clear timeless vintage muse.
Chloe Sevigny was a high school student and Sassy Magazine intern at the time. She served as an X-Girl muse and fit model. Sevigny starred in the first collection’s guerilla fashion show staged down the street from the Marc Jacobs show in 1994. Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonez produce the show. Linda Evangelista sat front row and the event was covered my MTV’s House of Style. For the second collection, Phil Morrison wrote and directed an offbeat fashion film in which Sevigny, dons X-girl designs throughout, crashes a Marc Jacobs show and asks attendees backstage if they have seen a fictional character named Gillian. During the Marc Jacobs show, Ethan Hawke, Naomi Cambell, Leonardo DiCaprio and Andre Leon Talley can be seen. The film poses philosophical and nonsensical questions, artist Rita Ackermann and Kim Gordon appear as well. The film was only recently released and Sevigny would go on to say that the concept was inspired by Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1960s films, meant to comment on consumerism, fashion culture and the state of feminism. Whether the ambitious endeavor was successful is completely subjective. Watch below and observe this so ‘90s it hurts piece of art.
(L) Sophia Coppola & Kim Gordon backstage at x-girl show in Japan, 1990s. (R) Sophia Coppola and Kim Gordon.
Photos by Joseph Szabo, 1970s.
(L) Chloë Sevigny, Daisy von Furth, Pumpkin Wentzel, and Rita Ackermann on the set of the X-Girl movie. (R) Photo by Joseph Szabo, 1970s.