The '90s are still a decade with a lot of mileage in fashion, especially for those of you who were born then, and for the rest of us who were too young to remember those years in detail. In a book that came out this week, Champagne Supernovas—named after the Oasis tune—the author, Maureen Callahan has done a great job of getting to the heart of what fashion was like for its rising stars in the run-up to the millennium. She does this by telling three people's stories, supermodel Kate Moss, and designers, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen. Although the book concentrates more on fashion in general than on menswear, Jacobs and McQueen both went on to build up huge menswear businesses, and Kate Moss was for fifteen years or so the girl every guy wanted to bone. 

First Callahan lays down how anti-fashion these guys were, their battle to be recognised and the power they gained by doing the something new, the fashion industry was scared of. Moss, because she didn't look like the other supermodels, and because she rose on the back of the photography of Corinne Day— inventor of heroin chic. Jacobs because he was was designing for a new sort of anti-fashion downtowner, and Alexander McQueen because he essentially hated the fashion establishment. Key points to look out for include: the turning around of fashion in the 90s to be less about impossible wealth and health, and more about clubs and music; the Beastie Boy's clothing lines X-Large and X-Girl's role to play in the rise of a new kind of New York fashion scene, including Chloe Sevigney, Sonic Youth and Harmony Korine; and a great quote regarding Alexander McQueen telling the LVMH execs in the middle of his job interview that he needed to "take a shit".

 

On top of insider insights on how the fashion industry works and what it's really like to work at the top level, there's a whole heap of sex and drugs to keep the more general reader interested, although how based in fact all of that is, is impossible to know. The book does though take a morose turn, delving into the alleged substance abuse problems of each, and their equally alleged battles with depression. Moss and Jacobs have come out on top of course. Genius and the high-life the book seems to be saying comes at a very high price. 

It's a great read buy it from Simon and Schuster

Alexander McQueen by Stephen Callaghan. Hiding his face because he claimed he was on unemployment benefit, but also pre-cosmetic surgery.

 

Kate Moss, shot by Corinne Day on the cover of The Face in 1990. An image designed by the editorial team to define the 'look of the '90s.'