Style lessons from two of our favourite maximalists
Words: Kenny Jules Morifi-Winslow | Illustrations: Nena Maree
I don't watch much tv, I find the internet to be an all consuming place, so even when I do watch the odd series, it's always online. Being a born and raised cosmopolitan city girl, I struggle to sleep at night without the comforting hum of background white noise, and this is where most of my tv consumption occurs. Subconsciously, while I drift into slumber. Of course, to avoid missing any good parts of shows I'm actually engaged in, I lean towards reruns and movies I can recite line for line. Partially because they bore me to snore, or because I know them so well I can follow the plot literally with my eyes closed. On the top of that list is Her, don't ask, and close behind is the cult classic Sex & The City. Now, I love a good fashion feature. Carrie Bradshaw's daring sartorial perspective will never get old, but I discovered a real life fashion icon in the depths of late night reality TV that I think anyone with a screen in 2018 would be hard pressed to deny. Cardi B, formerly of Love & Hip Hop fame.
With her enigmatic personality and New York street realness, Cardi has quickly become one of the most relatable stars in the entertainment industry. Known for keeping it real and a little bit over the top all at the same time, Cardi has risen not only to musical acclaim, but fashion notoriety. She was seated front row next to Anna Wintour at the Alexander Wang runway show at New York Fashion Week, and before that, was pictured strutting into Christian Siriano's show in a lime green suit with white fur throw looking all kinds of kitsch fashion glam. I love it.
It's worth noting though, that this particular style of dress is not new, as much as reality fame might be. Cardi, fashion feminist icon, very closely resembles 90s icon of tv stardom, Fran Fine (played by Fran Drescher) in The Nanny. The 'flashy girl from Flushing' was a proponent of personal style that championed dressing for oneself and not caring at all what people think. Whether wearing Anna Sui's feather-trimmed day-glow plaid suits; green patent-leather, hip-hugging Courrèges; or kitschy Moschino minis, Fine was a maximalist whose larger-than-life style was matched only by her teased raven roots. 'Tacky' was the insult often lodged at her by her onscreen enemy, the primly buttoned-up (and very beige) 'C.C.', but in fact Fine's looks breathed fresh air into the household-and were right on trend with the early 90s fascination with the mod 60s. Think: overly-stuffed shoulder pads, itsy-bitsy miniskirts, and lots of leopard, fur, sequins, and more, worn mostly together. Her wardrobe was also unapologetically trendy, in the way that would make us pause, consider her complete look, and decide we'd probably never be able to actually wear something like that, but in an industry that practically keeps itself afloat by recycling successful pieces from the past, Fine's look isn't just an example of well-dressed nostalgia, it's something we're actually wearing today. Enter Cardi.
Fine also proved you could do high end on a budget. A mainstream hi-low shopper, her looks are as salient today as they were during the show's six seasons. In fact, one has to wonder if Jeremy Scott was watching old episodes when designing his 'psychedelically glam' Moschino Resort 2017 collection? The ornate minidresses strike an uncanny resemblance to the very beaded floral crop top and mini Fine once made famous. Not long ago in fact, Racked published a piece titled 'Fran Drescher's The Nanny Style Is Having A Moment,' in which author Nia Porter wrote: 'This flashy girl from Flushing's take on 90s glamour transcends time, so much so that her style has remained a constant inspiration well into the 21st century. Her gaudy and sometimes over-the-top choices continue to reverberate throughout some of high-fashion's most recent runway collections, because let's face it - the 90s are so in right now.' There, Fine's pieces were compared to the likes of Louis Vuitton and Ryan Roche, of trends that people can't wait to get their hands on, and pieces that 10 years ago may have been considered to be too over-the-top to be considered good-looking.
True: The 90s are in. They're back in action, even though it's only been a decade and a chunk since they ended. But in my mind, Fine was never out to begin with. Let's reflect for a moment on her personal style. Her favourite top was the skin-tight turtleneck (especially a black one); an outfit was never complete without a quirky accessory (who can forget that Moschino heart wristlet), and her collection of matching coords could easily give Taylor Swift a run for her money. Her clothing was an enviable mix of high and low, K-Mart with Dolce & Gabbana, Norma Kamali with thrifted goods; it encompasses basically everything we read on the internet today, know your basics, and don't be afraid to jazz things up.
Of course, it's hard to acknowledge Fine's fashion choices without giving a nod to some of her more obscure pieces. There was a bold, bright-orange fur coat, sequined crop tops (à la Ashish), and very-Miu Miu pastel pieces. Sure, it was 25 years ago, and such outlandish clothing might have been deemed crazy back then. Today however, we simply call it Anna Dello Russo.