The ’90s Are Back for Spring: Britney Backpacks, Square-Toe Shoes & ‘SATC’ Inspiration

From the moment Olivier Rousteing sent a Pepto-Bismol pink look down his Balmain spring ’20 runway on a model this week in Paris, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Britney Spears while “Hit Me Baby One More Time” blared on the sound system, the die was cast.

Balmain spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Balmain spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Factor in the rest of the ’90s soundtrack — from Backstreet Boyz to NSYNC, the mini backpacks beloved of the decade (you can also wear the 2.0 version as a fanny pack) and the bodycon cutouts — and it was a full-on ‘90s takeover. And that was before we even got to the double denim. Just to ram the point home, said double denim looks came out as a quartet in blue, green, yellow and pink. Why have one when you can have four?

Balmain, Spring 2020, Paris Fashion Week.
Balmain, Spring 2020, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Rousteing himself admits that “for some, styles from the late nineties and early aughts somehow seem too recent to consider for revivals — perhaps due to a feeling that those looks need a bit more of the filer of time that always helps to smooth out past eras’ fashion bumps,” but when you grow up in the ’90s, like an increasing number of designers, you want to celebrate it.

Givenchy spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Givenchy spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Givenchy’s Claire Waight Keller used upcycled ’90s denim in some of her looks — not least a double denim coat. One side was stonewashed and the other side acid snow-washed.

However, the most refined and covetable take on the ’90s denim trend happened at Alaïa. For spring, the house is re-releasing some replica denim pieces from its summer ’91 collection as part of its special editions line featuring cropped jackets, gilets and even a baignoire bodysuit.

The regular spring collection, too, features some more contemporary takes on the trend such as a cutout bustier dress, along with matching denim cage sandals and gladiator flats.

Alaïa spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Alaïa spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Dominique Maitre
Alaïa spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Alaïa spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Dominique Maitre

Footwear showcased during the week’s presentations, gave off distinct ’90s vibes, also. The square toe trend became even more pronounced with brands from Wandler and By Far to Manu Atelier, who further added to their repertoire and amped up their angles.

Wandler, which has championed the trend from the launch of its shoes last season, created new takes on its popular Isa sandal such as a strappy number with a toe-ring set into the footbed.

Wandler, spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Wandler, spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Stephanie Hirschmiller

By Far sisters Valentina Ignatova, Sabina Gyosheva and Denitsa Bumbarova did the same. Their aesthetic draws heavily on the ‘90s when the girls were growing up and popular TV shows of the decade provide endless sources of inspiration. “You’ll often find us binge-watching ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex & the City,’ obsessing over their cool outfits,” they said.

By Far, spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
By Far, spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: By Far

As for Manu Atelier, their sophomore shoe collection features the most extreme take on the trend to date. “When we first did the shapes from paper patterns, we were like ‘let’s make them bigger. We need a bigger piece of paper,’” co-designer Merve Manastir told FN. And so they did.

Manu Atelier spring '20, Paris Fashion Week.
Manu Atelier spring ’20, Paris Fashion Week.
CREDIT: Stephanie Hirschmiller

The last word, however, goes to Nodaleto’s Julia Toledano. She also drew on the decade’s classic TV shows and her square-toed platforms are all inspired by leading ladies including “Sex & the City”‘s Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones and Friends’ Rachel Greene. “I’m obsessed with the style as I think it’s the perfect shape and so comfortable too,” she said.

“I called my Carrie shoe with the crystal fringe, ‘The Preston’ (Mr Big’s surname),” she continued. “I was thinking about what Carrie Bradshaw would wear going out to the new Spanish restaurant in New York.”

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