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Subcultures became a part of the fabric of fashion during this period.

Punk styles, tattoos, and other body modi$cations extended well into the mainstream. Goth style swaddled almost everything in black, connecting with a tragic romanticism that referenced the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, occasionally eroticized by fetish paraphernalia. Skateboard rats wearing oversized cargo pants were interpreted into everything from cotton camou!age to silk satin.

The speculative bubble made millionaires out of many self-proclaimed computer nerds; embracing their awkwardness and lack of interest in fashion spurred the establishment of geek chic. Also characteristic of fashion in the 1990s was a strong move toward minimalist styles.

The simplicity of form was in part another response to the extravagances of the 1980s. The approach took many forms, from the sleekness and luxurious fabrics of German designer Jil Sander, to the restrained edginess of Austrian designer Helmut Lang, to the commercially safer interpretations of Klein and Karan. Twenty-First Century Today fashion cycles run their course at breakneck speeds. Whereas in recent decades one could describe any composition of various styles as a collage, the current assemblage is better compared to a $lm montage, because it is in perpetual in motion.

From year to year, season to season, and even week to week, the fashion industry borrows and blends from all manner of garments and every conceivable historical reference. For some customers, this constant !ux of fashion constitutes a never-ending race to keep up with trends.


For others, it means adopting a deliberately slower pace that allows them to focus on any number of niche markets that appeal. They pick and choose among designers, all the while building their distinct style. For designers, a keen historical awareness provides an advantage as the twenty-$rst century tests their facility at producing fashions that serve as a conduit for selfexpression in a culture where anything goes.