Reliving the best moments of the wonderfully silly, brilliantly outfitted film
Without a doubt, the 90s was the era for teen films. But what about post-teen? When high school is a distant memory and all the jocks and popular girls have grown up, with the ten-year reunion just around the corner? When you come to the grim realisation that all you’ve done for the past decade is sit around in your apartment watching Pretty Woman (“like, 36 times”) with your cat and BFF, leaving only to shop, party and hit your dead-end job?
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion explores just that. With news of the daunting reunion, the fashion-obsessed characters Romy and Michele (played by Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow) embark on a journey for perfect lives... at least on the outside, anyway. Laced with smart humour, and more-than-memorable one-liners, the film is a perfect representation of a crucial moment in 90s fashion. Matching wardrobes and personalities, you wouldn’t struggle to find the film’s influence in contemporary fashion inspiring a legion of designers from Ryan Lo, to Mimi Wade and Meadham Kirchhoff, whose collections each share a bold, playful and fun air, complete with brash, in-your-face girlishness. While the film is considered a frothy satire, there is certainly a lot to take from it, with valuable lessons practically thrown at us along with lots of fabulous fashions.
To celebrate 20 years since it hit our screens, we revisit some of its greatest moments.
MATCHING OUTFITS ARE THE ONE
“You know what? This is, like, the cutest we’ve ever looked!”, gushes Romy, assuring her best friend that they are indeed the shit. The inseparable duo are at their best when together, their enviable wardrobes complimenting each other just as much as their outlandish personalities. Amidst the generic kids at Sagebrush High School (who really didn’t have a clue), Romy and Michele’s friendship flourished relishing in one another’s devotion to fashion, and cultivating some serious looks as a result. Early on in the film, Romy dons a slick red PVC coat while Michele wears a turquoise feather number – but these looks merely set the scene for what is yet to come. As Michele puts it best, “fashion, to me, is like...everything.”
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF...AND KNOW YOUR STUFF
Before the pair decided to stretch the truth (read: lie) at their reunion, they at least tried to find glamorous jobs and rich boyfriends to brag about. Michele, realising her current state of unemployment is totally not chic, struts down Rodeo Drive in a bid to bag a job at the ever glamorous Versace. “I am, like, really familiar with the entire Versace line and if you would give me a chance I know I could, like, sell the shit out of this stuff” she assures the store manager. While Michele never bagged the job, due to a minor slip up involving insulting a potential customer (no biggie), her air of confidence and no-nonsense approach is admirable. Dressed in a fluro skirt-suit she designed herself, she doesn’t allow the man’s snobbery to trip her up – she’s honest, calm and true to herself.
FAKE IT ’TIL YOU (ALMOST) MAKE IT
Donning structured 80s-esque power-suits and asking for a “business woman’s special” at a fast food joint (much to the confusion of a dumbfounded waitress), the duo carve totally new, totally professional lives for themselves. They are transformed into high-flying power-women all thanks to their new mode of slick dressing, entering the reunion in similar black suits and with a story about inventing Post-Its. They even manage to fool the majority of the Sagebrush High alumni, until Heather Mooney accidentally exposes them. Now, this isn't a PSA to fake your life or anything, but in the moments of bumping into an ex, an old school teacher or the dreaded reunion, take a leaf out of Romy and Michele’s book and fake it – but never on your CV. You'll get caught and it won't be cute. Instead, dress for success – you’ll feel totally powerful in a power suit.
DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
If there is one lesson to learn from the film, it’s to not take yourself too seriously. Duh. Under the fluffy exterior, Romy and Michele teaches us to not be hard-nosed or conventional. The dance scene, in particular, is a classic nod to this. Dressed in their now-infamous pink and blue ensembles, the duo (accompanied by nerd-turned-beefcake Sandy) parade around the dance floor to the sweet sounds of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, as their ex-school peers look on. Having stripped from their business attire and put on their own creations (kind of like outfits you might see in a soft-core Star Trek remake), this scene is a lesson in both having fun and staying true to yourself. While the suits looked pretty great, the pink and blue looks were way more Romy and Michele, let’s be honest.
WEAR CLOTHES THAT MAKE YOU STAND OUT
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion captures a huge moment in 90s fashion. While plaid shirts, ripped jeans and beaten up Converse á la Kurt Cobain was the aesthetic of choice at the beginning of the decade, the mid-to-late 90s turned fluffy, with Versace, Baby Spice and Clueless' Cher Horowitz acting as the leaders of the pack. Romy and Michele’s wardrobes encapsulate the charisma of one of many 90s fashion trends, opting for feather trims, ‘girly’ colours and garish accessories. The pair are dressing for themselves, not anybody else. Just look how it worked out for Romy and Michele – realising their dreams of opening a fashion boutique. Like, yay to friendship!