Fly Girls and Fresh Princes

A style supercut of the freshest early-'90s fashion

In the 14th episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air our hero Will Smith finds himself bored with his new private school uniform. He discovers that the lining of his blazer is far more interesting and, in my earliest childhood memory of watching the show, flips it inside out. Throughout the entire run of the show, Will never shies away from flamboyant clothing. It compliments his personality perfectly: his candor, his confidence, and his insistence on never entirely fitting into his new surroundings.

This supercut celebrates the vibrant colours and vivid patterns of the wardrobes seen in films and TV shows between 1989 and 1992: Do the Right Thing, White Men Can’t Jump, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and In Living Color. The influence of grunge had not yet taken hold of popular culture, and I’m sad that we couldn’t have staved it off for a little longer. I prefer Wesley Snipes’s low tanks and cycling hats in White Men Can’t Jump to muddy flannels and ripped jeans any day of the week.

Another reason to savour this era was the abundance of Rosie Perez. In White Men Can’t Jump she made hoop earrings work for any occasion, be it rollerblading in Venice Beach or fulfilling her dream of appearing on Jeopardy! She introduced boxing gloves as a fashion accessory in the opening credits of Do the Right Thing. Her style influence no doubt extended to the Fly Girls of In Living Color, where she was the choreographer for the first four seasons. It’s a Herculean task to pick just one favourite look, but the lime green scarf with the floral print dress holds a special place in my heart.

So travel back with me to a fresher, more fly era. A time of scrunchies, spandex, and suspenders. When people wore their personalities not just on their sleeves, but on their knuckle rings as well.

video and text // Daniel Reis
title design // Jackie Hudson