With every new season we tend to forget all about the past and concentrate solemnly on the future, anticipating what it holds in terms of fashion directions, trying to keep up with the rising trends, and getting deeply lost in the newness of it all. But as every decade is bound to experience a revival on the fashion scene, we are soon reminded that there’s no present, nor future, without a glorious past.

The spring 2016 fashion trends brought back a taste of the 1970s and marked the comeback of 1980s power dressing, but at the same time they reintroduced all things 1990s to the fashion scene, adding to the already reimagined grunge uptown look.

So how does the ’90s grunge look like in spring and fall 2016? Read on after the break for the full report.

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Grunging up for 2016
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Cultural influences

The year was 1991, the band was Nirvana and their newly released album was entitled Nevermind. The significant event that changed the face of both the fashion and the music industry at once, defined what later became known as the grunge style, influencing the rise of of an aesthetic that – as soon as it translated onto the fashion scene – morphed into a badge for Seattle’s alternative music backdrop.

The new era ended-up representing the 90s decade and influencing the ones that followed by introducing outfits that were characterized by comfort, insouciance and heavy layering. While some saw the movement like a dismissal of the severely tailored suits of the 80s, others perceived it as a pure eclectic statement. With style icons like Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love and Kate Moss the style gained millions of followers.

The neo-grunge gained popularity somewhere around the year of 2003, paying tribute to the grunge aesthetic that innovated the 1990s fashion industry. Its reappearance correlated with the flourish of the neo-grunge music genre. For 2016, the trend became luxurious, slightly polished, almost grown up.


Kate Moss goes neo-grunge for Topshop Fall/Winter 2009

The look: neo-grunge fashion revisited.

By drawing inspiration from the 1990s, the neo-grunge trend for 2016 hardly remains the same Seattle band inspirited movement, switching over to a fresh new interpretation that’s still slouchy and pared back but way more luxurious. This season, a mix of glam touches, dark florals, subtle rips and relaxed silhouettes are keen on painting grunge anew, but there are other elements/pieces that also work in making up the trend:

All black. Dark florals.

In 2016, grunge comes hand in hand with a newly gained subtlety, the look polished, but still plenty rebellious in attitude. Contouring the new mood:

  • all black silhouettes – a mix of high and low hems, of sheer layers, of easy separates and contrasting textures juxtaposed for the full effect;
  • dark florals – adding a touch of romance to grunge on relaxed maxi dresses & skirts, or sports-inspired separates, styled with chain belts and slip-ons.

neo grunge trend for spring 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at DKNY and Calvin Klein, S/S ’16

Glam accents.

The art of glam-grunge is never far from mind when it comes to dressing up the ’90s inspiration, but in 2016 a veil of sophistication rounds up the mood with:

  • long, slinky silhouettes, falling loosely around the body;
  • subtle rips in unexpected places, and delicate frayed edges;
  • dark sequins, silky fabrics, and metallic accents bearing plenty of movement.

neo grunge fashion trend for spring 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at Calvin Klein and MSGM, S/S ’16

Rips & boxy silhouettes.

When it comes to rips and deconstructed silhouettes, know that on the spring 2016 runways they were cut rather precise, and inserted in evening wear and tailored separates for total contrast, and to add a modern update to classic grunge.

Nothing about grunge is ethereal, so learn to make use of hefty denim and other sturdy fabrics to ensure its vibes still read carefree in 2016. Invest in boxy silhouettes, and revise the look with bold prints and cool embellishments.

neo grunge fashion trend for spring 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at Christopher Kane and Roberto Cavalli, S/S ’16

Grungy layers.

Sometimes grunge is in the attitude, other times it’s in the silhouette, often it lays in the choice of fabric, or way of styling. If you’re looking for a refined way to sport it in spring 2016 go for grungy layers and wear:

  • long-sleeved tops with a good dose of sheer underneath unconventional dress-silhouettes that are at once rebellious and chic;
  • woolly tops / dresses over sheer ones, going for a mix of textures and an overall effortless, carefree finished look.

neo grunge fashion spring 2016
Grungy layers at MSGM and Sacai, S/S ’16

Modern plaid.

2016’s take on plaid is about as grown-up as the neo-grunge trend itself, and its modern use serves to conjure up an understated version of the trend either by way of:

  • smart separates, made grunge through a moody colour palette, messy frays, subtle transparency and cool-girl styling;
  • sophisticated one-pieces, that can be stripped simple and made to look utterly chic, or can be dressed-down with black leather, denim or chunky wool.

Neo-grunge fashion trend for spring 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at MSGM and Victoria Beckham, S/S ’16

Neo-grunge for fall 2016.

In fall 2016, the infatuation with grunge continues just as the fashion direction gains new representations, and adds to its already extended, yet distinct palette of moods.

Grungy & chunky.

Fall means wool, wool means cozy, cozy means baggy sweaters, and when these come topped with chain-like detailing, or shredded edges, they sure make for ideal grunge staples. Grungy and chunky, wear them:

  • on their own, paired to a black pair of tights, a black choker and a statement pair of booties;
  • layered over a sheer maxi dress, keeping the look colour coordinated, with a mix of dark, earthy tones.

neo-grunge fashion trend fall 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at Alexander Wang and Etro, F/W ’16

Slouchy plaid.

For fall 2016, plaid regains some of its former glory, looking particularly slouchy and imploring to be worn in cool-grungy combinations such as:

  • oversized, sports-inspired blousons paired to fitted knit skirts and black lace ankle boots;
  • asymmetrical flannel tops, layered over loose shirts and styled with embellished tights and lace-up shoes.

neo grunge fashion trend fall 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at DKNY and No.21, F/W ’16

Sexy grunge.

New season, new attitude, and grunge dressing is about to get a sexy makeover in 2016. Channel the updated mood with:

  • long-sleeved, mini-dresses in plaid wool fabrics, layered over sheer tops, and styled with over-the-knee boots;
  • silky slip dresses layered underneath cozy sweaters, styled with black chokers and ankle booties.

neo grunge fashion trend fall 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at Barbara Bui and Alexander Wang, F/W ’16

Outerwear grunge.

In terms of outerwear, in fall 2016 you can conjure up the grunge attitude either through:

  • a chic tailored coat in plaid wool fabric;
  • an oversized puffer jacket featuring dark floral prints.

neo-grunge fashion for fall 2016
Neo-grunge at Burberry Prorsum and MSGM, F/W ’16

Polished grunge.

Polished and grunge rarely belong in the same sentence, but in fall 2016 the opposites attract in shaping a brand new look: rebellious but put together, tailored but plenty disheveled. Take a cue from the runway and give the aesthetic a go with:

  • plaid & leather twin sets, tailored to perfection but adorned with chains, zippers and metals;
  • relaxed dress silhouettes featuring mismatched prints, worn over flared pants, and loosely tied with a belt.

neo-grunge fashion trend fall 2016
Neo-grunge fashion at Alexander Wang and Calvin Klein, F/W ’16

The trend in the past.

Grunge clothing: cues from the runway.

Although defined by nearly the same elements, the grunge clothing is now envisioned to encapsulate the sophisticated, uptown aesthetic, being less about flannel and ripped jeans, and more about light fabrics like chiffon and organza, perfect for spring and summer time.

Dries Van Noten’s collection saluted the presence of plaids in a way that didn’t feel saturated, putting an emphasis on pyjama-like styling and carefree silhouettes. The prints were being mixed with ease, the layers kept light in a way that translated to rebellious, but highly feminine at the same time. His significant vision allowed for the trend to be carried over to the fall 2013 runways.


Neo-grunge looks on the runway at Dries Van Noten S/S ’13

3.1 Phillip Lim’s collection felt equally nostalgic and modern, coming across as an update on the neo-grunge trend with subtle retro influences. Maybe one of the most significant looks to have walked down the runway, the floral, silk motorcycle jacket, worn on top of a loose black graphic T-shirt, paired to a printed skirt and accented by a shirt tied around its waist defines what the trend is all about this season.


Neo-grunge look on the runway at 3.1 Philip Lim S/S ’13

House of Holland’s rendition of the trend was focused more on the oversized shadow checks, steering away from the 90s minimalism. Also noted, the use of tie-dye and small-scale florals nodded towards the 90s classics as seen from a slightly distinct and unconventional perspective.


Neo-grunge looks on the runway at House of Holland S/S ’13

Neo-grunge: a newly gained romantic attitude

Although constantly associated with a messy, rebellious and slouchy aesthetic, this season the neo-grunge reached for a manifestation of femininity as some of the ethereal looks that came down the runway hinted towards a new interpretation of the loose sillouethe. The diaphanous skirt at Acne served to highlight the newly gained attitude, as paired with a graphic tank top and grungy sandals.


Neo-grunge looks on the runway at Acne S/S ’13

The beauty look

Accompanying an updated vision of the neo-grunge trend, the beauty look this season is also being enhanced. The messy hair-styles put a strong emphasis on the regrown roots, a 1990s staple, alongside the several days slept-in texture that “it’s almost greasy but it still looks good”. The bold lips and the mandatory round sunglasses complement the elevated beauty image.


Neo-grunge beauty look on the runway at Dries Van Noten S/S ’13

Grungy beauty tutorials to try at home

how to: classic meets grunge makeup

How to: classic meets grunge makeup

Opposites attract in this beauty look which pairs classic red lips with grungy dark eyes. Smudged eye pencil never quite looked so beautiful. Follow the link for the full classic lips grungy eyes tutorial.

how to: kenzo's

How to: Kenzo's "futuristic Maharaja" make up

Imagine a modern day Maharaja gone grunge. She might look a little like the girl Kenzo sent down the runway for fall; bold, beautiful, eyes lined in a smudge of dark winged liner on the bottom lids. If you want to give it a shot, try this modern Maharaja makeup tutorial.

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