Sophisticated, no; nostalgic yes. Born in the 80’s, my childhood was enveloped by early 90’s style. Youth culture at that time could be summed up in one word. Grunge. As a young child, I did not really appreciate Grunge music (though I have a taste for for it now) nor understand it’s darker subtext. What I was aware of was the way that people dressed, very very scruffy. One noted early 90’s trend was the feminine but fierce Kinderwhore.
The term Kinderwhore is based on the German word ‘kinder’ meaning child, so slutty little girl. Before anyone starts shouting about sexualising children for the desire of paedophiles. This look was more about distortion of innocence but oddly enough being sexy was never intended. To be sexually provocative was more the goal not to be seen as a classic Playboy centrefold. If you were a ‘true’ believer of 90’s Grunge, you were likely to be consumed with angst and self loathing. Most of the women who pioneered and subsequently carried the look on; were not shy delicate flowers as we will see later.
As to who officially created the Kinderwhore look is not clear. Her first appearance was in 1983 by Christina Amphett of the band Divinyls. More noted icons were Babes in Toyland front woman Kat Bjelland and Hole Singer, actress and provocateur Courtney Love. As young women in the 1980’s, they refined the look and made it their own. One of their biggest inspirations was Carroll Baker in 1956’s ‘Baby Doll’. Baby Doll was a childlike bride to a cotton gin owner. She sleeps in a cot and forbids her husband any conjugal encounters (he must wait a year until her 20th birthday). Subsequent years have seen Bjelland and Love argue over who truly developed Kinderwhore. Love definitely took Kinderwhore to the masses so that for many she and the look became merged forever. As these pictures demonstrates, sexy posing is never intended. Early 90’s alt- rock women were powerful feminists who were not wishing to pander to men and be ‘acceptable’. She was loud and proud and did not give a shit if you approved of what she did or said.
Dresses are a vital piece of the Kinderwhore look; no jeans, no trousers. This look is dependant on the feminine. Floral, white and vintage style dresses are an important piece. Baby doll dresses are also allowed, the more ripped and torn the better. What must be remembered is 20 years ago vintage shopping was not the chic endeavour that it is now. Vintage and second hand clothes were synonymous with not having any money, generally speaking vintage clothes were looked down upon. Shoes are Mary Janes or flat chunky books.high heels are not really an accepted part of the KW outfit. Since childishness is key, so adult shoes would contradict the youthful attire. Ah red lipstick, so good of you to make an appearance. Coupled with plenty of eyeliner and mascara (black obviously) the face has the foundations of classic chic but is distorted for full effect. Like the clothes, being unkempt was important. More smears and smudges the better. Hair may have some curls but never coiffed; big and messy is essential. Nails were non manicured, short and stubby. If you were a kick arse bitch in a band, playing your instrument. You cannot have refined, polished fingernails. I am really not advocating socks as being chic, as these were those gross knee high Bobby socks. Personally I don’t like them but yes they were a valid component. Plastic hair clips, ripped up tights and anything antique in appearance complete the attire. By the late 90’s the Alt-Rock/ Grunge bubble has burst and Kinderwhore died with the rest of the scene.
To some this is an odd choice. Considering that most of the trends and fashions featured are chic and sophisticated. Yes Kinderwhore is not a timeless capsule of elegance. But that is not the point, it is SUPPOSED to be trashy looking, cheap and raw. As a big fan of Babes in Toyland and adore Courtney Love/Hole, it is personal nostalgia for me.