When you think of grunge, what comes to mind? Music? Kurt Cobain?Clothing, angst, drugs, frustration and youth.Grunge: anger, frustration, and Marc Jacobs.
Marc Jacobs. It is now 25 years since Marc Jacobs designed his Spring 1992 range around grunge culture.All of the chaos and emotion of Kurt Cobain’s life was brought into vivid life by TV, and this passion and energy sits right next to the tumultuous silence that he ended his days in. Marc Jacobs tried to encapsulate the culture that was so synonymous with Kurt Cobain, and the both of the man and the fashion died soon thereafter.
“RIP Grunge”, wrote Kathy Horyn. Scathing and condescending, Horyn could not have been further from the truth.
Fast forward 25 years, and Jacobs, grunge and Cobain have come full circle. Frances Bean Cobain’s feature in Jacobs’ Spring 2017 a recent,living epitaph to 1992. Back into 2017, and it’s back. Nose rings, rejection, frustration and angst are back.
Kathy Horyn was right about grunge, in her own way. “Self-conciousslovenlieness”, as she wrote in 1992, is the beating heart of what grunge has returned as in 2017. Grunge in 2017 doesn’t shoot heroin in a Seattle warehouse; but grunge in 2017 is no less real than it was in 1992.
Courtney Love described finding a pair of shoes that survived from the original Marc Jacobs collection, items that “were part of me and Kurt living in a trench and surviving the war”. Jacobs’ himself created this collection while as hisboyfriendwas carried away by the AIDS epidemic. It would be very easy to dismiss Marc Jacobs place in the dirty world of grunge, but it would not be right.
Marc Jacobs, at first glance, is the exact opposite of what grunge wants to be-google doesn’t even have any suggestions if you enter “Marc Jacobs grunge”. The Spring 92′ Grunge range might have beengarish,jarring and unnatural, like something out of Kanye West’s range of thousand-dollar DIY clothes, but unlike anyone else,Jacobsis sewn into the fabric of the baggy shirts and ripped up jeans that are buying craft ales in silly little glasses.
Grunge fashion and culture never really died, and it never went away. People in 2017 have different skins, different lives and every day a different appearance. When grunge reemerged it reemerged in the same way; a culture that grew out of projection, andis in renaissance at a time when people are projecting like they never have before.
Grunge is back in the way people dress and look, and its back in the culture of how people, young people, feel. It’s back in the frustration and exclusion that people feel, its back in a tranche of female musicians and it’s back in on social media who are all grouped together by the same need to stand apart.
Seeing Frances Bean Cobain in the more recent images has a pleasing symmetry, and like Kourtney Love’s shoes, is also a haunting reminder of what was.