A 2000s Fashion History Lesson: Logos, Low-Rise, and It Bags

A 2000s Fashion History Lesson: Logos, Low-Rise, and It Bags

Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City Photo: Alamy

If one moment sums up early-2000s fashion, it was February 2000: Jennifer Lopez wore a chiffon Versace dress to the 42nd Grammy Awards, and the world was never the same. With a neckline that plunged all the way below her belly button, the world was in a tizzy—but how did it stay on? And what did it look like from the side? Everyone wanted to see the dress! So much so that it inspired the idea of Google Image Search. And so began a decade of digital fashion consumption.

Dubbed the aughts and the naughts (the former used in the US, the latter in the UK), the decade was ruled by celebrity: a proliferation of reality TV, blogs filled with paparazzi shots, and 2006’s Twitter, which gave fans a front-row seat into the lives and musings of their favorite celebrities—often without a publicist’s intervention.

Regarding mainstream fashion, it was a decade of taste so bad it was almost good—almost. Think Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears in matching denim getups, Juicy Couture sweatsuits galore, Von Dutch trucker hats, and Ed Hardy tattoo tees.

On the runways, logomania ruled, and designers sexed it up with Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli, and Hervé Léger infusing heady doses of sultry into their collections. A whirlwind look back at the in-your-face trends of early-2000s fashion, below.

Sarah Jessica Parker Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2005
Kirsten Dunst Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2006
Nicole Kidman Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2003
Michelle Obama Photographed by Annie Leibovitz Vogue, March 2009
From left: Lily Donaldson, Hilary Rhoda, Doutzen Kroes, Sasha Pivovarova, Caroline Trentini, Raquel Zimmermann, Jessica Stam, Chanel Iman, Coco Rocha, Agyness Deyn Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, May 2007

Women’s Trends of the 2000s

Introducing the It Bag: The Purse Becomes Icon

If eyes are the window to the soul, by the time the 2000s rolled around so too were handbags. Thanks in part to a certain Ms. Carrie Bradshaw, bags became the focal point of an outfit. After the launch of Fendi’s Baguette in 1997 (as fashion lore goes, the bag, designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi, was initially unpopular among the Fendi design team, who feared it had too much personality during a minimalist-fashion era), it skyrocketed to handbag stardom and is often considered fashion’s first It bag. Bradshaw, of course, famously carried multiple iterations of the Baguette throughout Sex and the City’s fabulous six-season run.

In the 2000s each brand had a white-hot bag (or two) that fashion folk clamored to carry. As mentioned, Fendi had its carb-inspired Baguette; Balenciaga had its slouchy Motorcycle City Bag, introduced in 2001 by then creative director Nicolas Ghesquière; Chloé had its boho Paddington bag, created by then creative director Phoebe Philo in 2005; Galliano debuted the Saddle bag at Dior’s spring-summer 2000 show. And over at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs was cranking out It bag after It bag with clever collaborations. Artists were invited to make interventions with Vuitton’s storied monogram: In 2001, it was Stephen Sprouse’s graffiti collection; in 2003, it was Takashi Murakami’s smiley flower-and-cherry collections. These bags were not to go unnoticed: statement making, eye-catching, and the center of attention!

In 2002, Sarah Mower charted the rise of the It bag in Vogue’s October issue: “In about 1993, fashionettes everywhere wanted the identical item at the same time (a Kate Spade shopper, a sporty Prada knapsack). Then came the great Baguette hunt for exotic hide and fabric varieties (a standard shape, but now in individualistic surface patterns). Before long, thanks to Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Dior, we were buying entire bag wardrobes, toting them as up-to- the-split-second status trophies.”

Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City Photo: Alamy
Lily Cole Photographed by Raymond Meier, Vogue, November 2006

Logomania: Here Come the Logos!

“Fashion is pushing its love affair with logos to the limit. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” wrote Vogue in its March 2000 issue.

All the aforementioned It bags were typically brandished with a logo—but that didn’t stop there! Dior’s bikinis featured their Oblique monogram; Burberry checked just about every object that could be checked; Gucci’s double Gs festooned belt buckles; and Marc Jacobs even painted his naked body with the neon pink Louis Vuitton logos inspired by LV’s collab with Stephen Sprouse in 2008 for an ad campaign. If early-2000s fashion had a square inch to spare, it was filled with an alphabet city of letters.

Tongue-in-cheek nods to this super-trend were made; in the brilliant March 2000 editorial “Branded” for Vogue, Helmut Newton took model Angela Lindvall and decorated her string-bikini-clad body with a smattering of logos belonging to all the mega fashion houses—a mishmash of monograms and icons where Chanel’s double Cs intermingled with Fendi’s double Fs to create a nonsense of logos. And Dapper Dan, all the way back in the late 1980s, was cutting up Gucci garment bags and transforming them into jackets in a brilliant reclamation of luxury.

All this emphasis on the bag you carried spawned a growing market of counterfeit bags—and with it a new industry of authenticators. In May 2001 Vogue reported on the issue: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not the chicest. When you’ve dished out big bucks for the latest leather logo bag but suspect it’s a fake, who ya gonna call? David Colman meets fashion’s new crime fighters: the Authenticators.”

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, 2006 Photo: Getty Images
Lil’ Kim, 2000 Photo: Getty Images

The Rise of Low-Rise: How Low Could They Go?

We can thank (or point the finger at) Alexander McQueen for the low-rise trend. Though it reached its zenith in the aughts, the designer debuted tailbone-revealing bumster trousers in his 1993 Taxi Driver collection—his first collection after graduating from Central Saint Martins—and notably again in his 1995 spring-summer collection.

Five or so years later, the trend had gone full-on mainstream. (In 2001 even Levi’s introduced a Superlow jean silhouette.) It was the default rise of all jeans and pants. Britney Spears was a notable proponent of the belly-baring trend.

The low-rise trend also coincided with the rise of jeans for any occasion. Though it was the 1970s that gave us designer denim, brands continued to offer denim: bedazzled with diamatés, distressed to smithereens, painted with floral motifs.

“Designer jeans: Can we count the ways we adore them now?” wrote Sarah Mower in Vogue’s September 2001 issue. “They’re rocking. Posing and pirouetting. Diving off into a zillion cuts, rinses, and textures, while simultaneously gate-crashing into unheard-of echelons of society. Jeans can be street, ladylike, dressed up, dressed down. They’re cool for everyday. They do black-tie. They’re fantasy and reality.”

Alexander McQueen’s 1995 spring/summer collection Photo: Vogue Runway
Britney Spears, 2003 Photo: Getty Images

The Boho Look: Starlets Layered Up

Twin forces helped to craft a new trend by the mid decade. Stateside, it was Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Retired from their teenybopper flicks (their last, New York Minute, came out in 2004), the pair was busy crafting a new, unique look that spawned dozens of copycats. Over in the UK, Sienna Miller was making waves for her take on boho: more festival chic, fewer layers.

The sum of the look was greater than its parts—fashionably speaking. It was a movement more to do with styling than individual pieces: peasant dresses over puddle jeans layered with a bolero; a functionless belt (preferably perforated); and a skinny scarf spun with metallic threads for flair.

In addition to the Olsens and Miller, there were Kate Moss, Mischa Barton, Nicole Richie, and other famous adopters. It’s said the force of this look, operating behind the curtain like Oz, was not a fashion designer (though Phoebe Philo did send out superfluous spaghetti-thin scarves for Chloé’s spring-summer 2005 collection) but the LA-based stylist Rachel Zoe.

Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen at the Met Gala, 2005 Photo: Getty Images
Sienna Miller, 2003 in LondonPhoto: Getty Images

The Bodycon Dress: The Galaxy and the Bandage

Though the decade was dominated by denim and It bags, there was room for a few trends born on the runway—especially for women needing something more sophisticated than denim and boho. Enter the bodycon dress.

At his spring 2006 collection, Roland Mouret debuted his Galaxy dress, and without the help of TikTok or Instagram—this was pre–social media, after all—the look went viral.

“You hadn’t been able to open a newspaper or magazine without seeing another young Hollywood A-lister wearing that hot-damn curvy dress: Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Diaz, Rachel Weisz, Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman—so many, it was verging on a joke,” wrote Mower in Vogue’s October 2007 issue. “You put it on, and you looked like an icon,” added the designer.

With as many colors as a book of Pantone swatches, the dress came in a double wool crepe that gripped the body like a second skin. The silhouette was below or at the knee and waist cinching, with a square neckline and sculptural cap sleeves. Like the jeans in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, it was universally flattering.

Mouret wasn’t the only designer delivering bodycon dresses. At this time, Hervé Léger (which, in April 2007, had been relaunched by Max Azria) was binding women up like metropolitan-chic mummies in his bandage dresses. No red carpet was complete without at least one bandage dress.

Victoria Beckham in Roland Mouret, 2007 Photo: Getty Images
Blake Lively on location for “Gossip Girl” in Hervé Léger, 2009 Photo: Getty Images

Paparazzi Chic: Sidewalk Becomes Catwalk

In the aughts, magazines (and tabloids) were still the predominant form of fashion news, along with budding blogs and news websites. All of these were filled with snaps of celebs circulating in the starry constellations of Hollywood. Paris Hilton and her Simple Life costar Nicole Richie were frequent tabloid fodder; so too were Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz, Lindsey Lohan, and newcomer on the block Kim Kardashian.

These off-duty looks produced head-scratching trends adopted by the masses: Juicy Couture velour tracksuits with script on the derrieres, ragged-edge miniskirts paired with Ugg boots, and baby tees emblazoned with words like angel. Page-boy caps, It bags, and a Starbucks Frappuccino finished off the look.

Mischa Barton, 2007 Photo: Getty Images
Olivia Palermo, 2008 Photo: Getty Images

Top Designers of the 2000s

Chloé, Hervé Léger, Roland Mouret, Balenciaga, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Juicy Couture, Marc Jacobs, Versace, Prada, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Fendi, Tom Ford, Gucci, Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, John Galliano, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Kenzo, Giorgio Armani, Valentino, Michael Kors, Moschino, Alaïa, Lanvin, Roberto Cavalli, Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Pucci, Gareth Pugh, Christopher Kane, Rodarte, Phillip Lim, Jason Wu, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Nina Ricci, Raf Simmons, Isabel Toledo

Magdalena Frackowiak, Stella McCartney, Natasha Poly, Natalia Vodianova, 2009 Photo: Getty Images

Men’s Trends of the 2000s

The top of the decade was dominated by the stage looks of boy bands: frosted trips and leather jackets with a metallic sheen. For teenagers, Abercrombie & Fitch’s elitist Americana prep ruled; the more polos the better. Hip-hop and the styles worn in music videos on MTV were chock-full of fashion like Air Jordans, iced-out chains, and baggy jerseys.

By the mid decade, a new look was taking hold thanks to the runways of Dior Homme, which appointed Tunisian-Italian designer Hedi Slimane as creative director. For Dior, Slimane churned out ultra-skinny pants, ties, and jackets inspired by rockers with waifish frames like Pete Doherty. If Kate Moss’s arrival in the 1990s signaled the heroine-chic era for women, Slimane passed the baton onto menswear in the 2000s. It was a look that carried over into the early 2010s and has since been dubbed indie sleaze. A crop of garage rock and post-punk bands (The Strokes, The Killers, The Libertines) epitomized the look.

For men who didn’t dabble in the mall-based or music-video-inspired trends of the aughts, the tailoring of Giorgio Armani remained the height of fashion.

Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Andy Garcia promote ”Ocean’s Eleven’,’ 2001 Photo: Getty Images
Heidi Slimane for Dior Homme, fall/winter 2005 Photo: Vogue Runway

In the Culture

The decade started off with the 9/11 terrorist attack, which left the world reeling. It ended on an optimistic note with the arrival of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. And when his wife Michelle Obama stepped out at the inauguration gala in a white Jason Wu dress, she launched the young designer into the spotlight. In 2001 Apple changed the game with the introduction of the iPod, and then six years later, on June 29, 2007, Apple released its first-generation iPhone, making a leap in technology with the first smartphone.

The decade also saw the rise of reality TV: Survivor aired in 2000, America’s Next Top Model in 2003, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians arrived in 2007.

The first Harry Potter film arrived in 2001, Twitter launched in 2006, and that same year the world got its first Taylor Swift album. In 2007 the first episode of Gossip Girl aired, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z tied the knot in 2008.

Taylor Momsen, Blake Lively, and Leighton Meester, 2007 Photo: Getty Images

Vogue World: Paris will pair select sports—cycling, gymnastics, tennis, tae kwon do, fencing, and breakdancing, among others—with French fashion from every decade since 1924. The show will highlight French designers, current and past, as well as houses that historically present their collections in Paris.

For front-row tickets, email [email protected]

This article was originally published on Vogue.com

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