Fashion is an evolving industry that continues to transform itself from one form to the other one. Models popularize most of fashion styles and many seem to go away when the model leaves the stage. However, some fashion styles get to be fought by the society because of the perceived influence on the youth, in particular, and the society itself, in general. An example of the fashion style that received a wide condemnation from the fashion industry itself and the society is the Heroin Chic of the 1990s. This style, as deduced from its name, has depicted young emaciated girls with the pale skin and circles under their dark eyes and has arisen the feeling of a drug addict. The British photography and styling of the 1990s was highly influenced by Heroic Chic with Kate Moss, a model behind the style backing the major awards in photos and styles that she had appeared on. However, many fashion enthusiasts and prominent people, including the US president Bill Clinton, expressed their displeasure with Heroin Chic for its perceived negative impact on the behaviors of youth. They claimed that, the style had tended to glamorize the use of drugs, especially heroin to which Moss had been associated with. Some even thought that Heroin Chic was anti fashion and depicted those who promoted the style as working against the supermodels of the time. This paper discusses a debate that surrounded Heroin Chic fashion and how the style influenced on the contemporary fashion.

Heroin Chic and its Criticism

According to Rosser (2011),fashion and style are a way of representing the one’s self in the society. They depict the inner character that is expressed on the outward through the makeup and clothes that the person wears. As such, the fashion and style have come to be associated with a certain behavior that might be desirable or undesirable in the society. One such fashion was the unpopular Heroin Chic movement that swept the fashion industry in the 1990s. Heroin chic was the 1990s fashion movement that was led by a fragile model Kate Moss. A pale skin, dark circles under the eyes and extreme thinness, generally characterized as heroin chic. These characteristics being the foundation to which the fashion were associated with drug addiction. Additionally, a main promoter of fashion, Kate Moss, was found to be using drugs, thus, confirming the fears that the society had associated the fashion with. 

Several fashion scholars have written much about how heroin chic negatively impacted on the behaviors of youth arguing that the fashion glamorized the use of drugs.  Bhardwaj & Fairhurst, 2010 argued that, heroin chic was the antithesis of fashion at that time and, thus; the fashionable ones received a great resistance both from the fashion industry itself and from antidrug organizations. The models were always in dissolution poses with blank stares that suggested that they were drug addicts. Because of their poses, it was easier for young people to think that using drugs was a cool thing. Indeed many young people started using drugs with the hope that they could become like the models in heroin chic Rosser (2011).

These artistic cults of individuals, as it is in X ~ L I Cin~ this paper, is an important contradictory work. However, it is a work that has been progressively seen in individualistic terms in which the fashioning of personal appearance is conceived of fundamental as an expression of personal identity. In contrast ten earlier epochs in which one’s outward look was considered to be revealing of one’s social status or role, now it is taken, first and foremost as a prognosis of one’s innermost self. Just as Giddens argues that, (1992,5-8,99-102), below the terms and conditions of high newness, the body becomes a self-reflexive schemes, integral to individuals sense of whom we are. Whilst in pre-modern societies, reforms adornments of the one’s body were ruled by ritualized traditional meanings, the individual body in modernity times has been secularized. It is more often pickled as a phenomenon to be twisted as an appearance of an individual’s character, instead of agreement with some earlier given system of meaning. In contemporary culture, persons have become accountable for the designs of their own bodies. All the same, at the mean time as the artistic cult of the ones has been progressively conceived in personal terms, there is an individualization of oneself. In place of the clarification, notion of the person as a unified unit with a immobile essence is now considered as something that is decentered, constantly mutating and fragmentary. symptomatic of this is increasing effortlessness with which persons discard and adopts various appearances in the universe of postmodern styles, where no one style reigns ultimate. Confronted with mange of various styles resulting from a various range of foundations, persons today are likely to tryout with a quite wide variety of various “looks” as it is exemplified, for example, by the fundamental “makeovers” in advent undergone by such people as celebrities like Michael Jackson and Madonna. Polhcnius (1 996) exemplifies the typical postmodern fashion habit as a surfer who considers identity as a thing that is markedly malleable. However, rather than concerning the various appearances that one accepts as communicative of a self which occurs individualistically of them, the personal is defined by the masquerade there is no personal apart from masquerade. Reasoning in this perspective, the self is depersonalized, being liquefied into the ranges of masks that one can adopt. One of the main problems that heroin chic’s as a main fashion is the struggle with obviously fabricated media coverage and reporting. Photos of those committing heroines chic as their best fashion consistently and continuously are depicted in the normal media as the drug addict. It became usual to habit heroin chic as one of the main reference during time to consider the imagery depiction of devastating impacts of drugs concerning the youth. To add on this, Joergens (2006) has highlighted that, different media groups, both in the US and the UK, started broadcasting on unconfirmed reports that, the number of youths using drugs and particularly heroin had raised for 30% even.

The Monitoring the Future and National Survey on Drug Use and Health projects on the research about the use of heroin indicate that the number of users did not increase between the period 1988 and 2003 or in any one particular instance between those periods. Joanne and Ross (2010) argue that such findings do not seem to support the assertions that heroin chic had to battle with during the 1990s like, “Now, with number 5 wraps of heroin almost as common as cans of strong lager in areas…” The findings also do not support the claims implying that heroin chic encouraged a generation of youth to use heroin. Joanne and Ross (2010) further have observed that the claims that had been slapped against heroin chic through the media deserved to be reevaluated again given the fact that numerous researches continue to exonerate heroin chic as a cause of moral degeneration of youth perceived at that time.

While addressing the relationship between heroin chic and a photographic representation of narcotics in the media, Hines and Bruce (2001) argued that heroin chic was a popular culture that was redressing itself through popular art and thus did not deserve to be demonized by the media as the cause of dwindling moral behavior and drug addiction among the youth. He observed that the beginning of the look of Heroin in the fashion through photography was both not a cause of the lapse in morals or of some desire liberation specific to the culture of the Anglo-American experienced in the mid-1990s. He notes that, “It was, and is, part of a much longer, relentless process of envisioning narcotic addiction that stretches back for at least 120 years”(Christine 1999).

Consequently, Edward and Nick (1997) argued that, the continued misrepresentation of heroin chic as a fashion was exacerbated by the involvement of powerful organizations that supported media photographs depicting heroin chic as a panacea to drug addiction. Similarly, the involvement of notable figures in the society led by the US president Bill Clinton to portray the heroin chic as the cause for the loose morality served to promote the negative reception that it received from the public.

According to Denise (1997), the models that promoted Heroin Chic were beautiful but one could not help to notice the fleeting nature that they had exhibited in advertisements. The controversy that followed the advertisements for heroin chic forced the fashion industry to give them up after the’90s with the introduction of more healthier-looking models. However, Christine (1999) argued that heroin chic could have been more than the fashion at the time because of the overwhelming resistance that it received from the media and the public. He implied that heroin chic was an attempt by the youth to address the cultural gap that existed and continues to exist where a certain section of society take it upon themselves to interpret the constructs of the society. For example, the photographic images of youth who had embraced heroin chic as the style were definitely doctored by the media to appear so much like those of people abusing drugs. A continual depiction of heroin chic as skinny and fragile implanted this picture in the mind of public being increasingly started shunning the style. The fashion industry itself picked up the bay and started displaying different body structures in the attempt to change the public perception of the industry. Nevertheless, the impact of heroin chic on the British fashion industry, particularly in photography and styling, was notable as the fashion designers like Calvin Klein started sampling what had constituted a fashionable body structure.

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