ome as you are. Nirvana’s frontman, Kurt Cobain is a music legend but perhaps even he would be surprised by his impact on fashion, influencing everything from runway shows to college kids’ closets. The WALK Magazine’s Fall 2017 Volume Issue seeks to explore every aspect of the theme, one of which is music’s continuous influence on fashion.
Cobain was at the epicenter of grunge with a thrift-store look that ran counter to the aesthetic for the ‘80s. With his disheveled jeans, oversized sweaters and grandpa cardigans, he made it cool to look mismatched, casual, and completely carefree. Those ripped pair of jeans you threw on before class? The oversized sweater trend taking over the streets? Kurt Cobain was the one to reimagine the millennial standard of dress. In a time when punk musicians wore studded leather and sculpted hair, Cobain’s live shows in multi-layered shirts and beat-up sneakers gave both music and fashion a new approach. Infamous for getting married in green checkered pajamas, he was truly carefree.
Other musicians have left an impact on fashion, but Cobain’s influence surpasses them all. Marc Jacobs was the first to take Cobain’s aesthetic and solidify it into fashion history through his historic 1992 Perry Ellis grunge collection. The clothes were described as “mix[ing] everything up…A typical outfit looks as it if were put tighter with the eyes closed in a very dark room.” With haphazard flannel layers, tattered mohair sweaters, long sleeves under tees, and a mixture of feminine prints with androgynous silhouettes — the ready-to-wear collection exemplified Cobain’s raw and free-spirited approach. Two decades later, Cobain still acts as a muse for Saint Laurent, Raf Simons, and countless other designers.
Below, Kiley Mahoney wears fray hemmed jeans ($198) from South Moon Under while Ashling Sui tops a silk pajama top with a South Moon Under oversized sweater ($88). Carl Brown embodies Cobain’s thrift-shop aesthetic with a gray cardigan and ripped jeans.
The magic of Cobain’s style was the fact that it transcended what he wore. Cobain wasn’t wearing clothes to make a statement; he wore what he wore because it was simply who he was. He wore layers to disguise his thinness. The materials he chose, namely denim and flannel, were simply what he had on hand. In that sense, Cobain’s choice of clothing had less to do with fashion and more to do with practicality, authenticity, and the ease of being just himself. And ironically, that’s exactly what makes Cobain the center of grunge fashion: there’s something appealing about being conformable in your own sin — “come as you are” — and embracing the fact that we are all less-than-perfect.
Photos by Ella Bei. Styled by Eliza Culp, Sonia Hussain, and Airika Yee. Modeled by Carl Brown, Kiley Mahoney, and Ashling Sui. Clothes courtesy of South Moon Under (1731 Chestnut Street).