Bensoni: Nineties Nostalgia

Sonia Yoon, one half of the design team behind Bensoni,  is getting married in May, and when asked about her and Benjamin Channing Clyburn’s inspiration for their Fall 2011 line, they referenced nostalgia, and a passage into adulthood.  Since both are still in their twenties, “nostalgia” meant the nineties.

Being a nineties girl myself, I’ve had some mixed feelings about the prevalence of nineties inspiration in fashion week.  It’s no secret that the cuts, colors and even the flat-platform shoes on the runway these past few days have a throwback status.  Still, I can’t be mad at the rich, saturated colors, the jewel tones and even the plaid…but there’s a big difference between nostalgic inspiration and a cut-and-paste of your old photo albums.

What Worked: Inspiration

Yes, there’s plaid. And fur. And knee-high black boots, and a hint of schoolgirl in the mix…but none of it is overdone.  The hem- and waistlines are high, the fabrics shine and flow, and the entire nineties style seems a bit more…grown up.  Nostalgia’s about looking back with a clarity of vision, with a big-girl know-better smile.  H&M and Forever 21 may cannibalize these styles as the trends trickle down, but even if we see preteens wearing plaid miniskirts again, it doesn’t mean us grown-ups have to.

Yep. That’s right. I’m saying a dress with dripping roses worked. Check out the design as a whole: the throat-covering necklace, the depth of color and shading in the roses, the creamy background and cap sleeves. Now note the absence of the thigh-high boots pictured in a number of Bensoni’s other looks, and the second outfit’s stunning ankle corsets.  (A side note: you can get your own – hand-made! – on Etsy. I have some, and adore them.) It’s a balance of that don’t-give-a-damn darkness we all loved (it made rebellion so easy) with something a bit more refined, relaxed, adult. This collection doesn’t scream nineties bad-ass; it whispers it.

What Didn’t: Reiteration

Except when it didn’t.

This is where things got a little hairy for me.  Just listen to this description: a plaid mini-dress and thigh-high patent leather boots with a black choker.

I’m sure I’ve worn this. Or I really wanted to. Possibly while watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and fantasizing about having a hot vampire boyfriend.

And are we seeing those pants?

Disappointing.

What do you think of Bensoni’s gothic nostalgia?

Is it inspired, or just plain icky?

More information and image source at Style.com.