The first thing I saw about her were those chunky, moonshine platform boots.
My eyes traced up a willowy frame, adorned with a sheer dress covering silver raver pants, ladylike pearls over a Victorian blouse – all topped off by a fierce, determined stare.
Rarely do I pause to take a photo of the posy crews at Fashion Week yet there she was, ensconced in an inconsonant aura that stopped me in my tracks and beckoned for a shot.
The whole get up reminded me of something I would see on Drew Barrymore, or perhaps the backstage fashion hubris of 90s Robert Altman classic, Pret-a-Porter. It was completely at odds with the colour blocked, pop-tastic, bold shouldered silhouettes my weary street-style eyes have grown accustomed to at these events.
So who was she, this girl, with such a bold and perfectly captured sense of style?
Her name is Laneikka Denne, she’s 16 and runs an edgy blog called Grunge Children. It struck me as ironic that someone who wasn’t even born in the 90s has a better grip on that era than me, who’s lived to tell the tale.
I was intrigued and emboldened by Laneikka’s self-assured styling, so I craved to explore her aesthetic process further.
“I’m inspired by Australian youth and fashion culture,” she tells me. “You’d think that because we’re ‘down under’, we’d have no idea about style. But Australia’s emerging youth fashion culture is something the rest of the fashion world has to watch out for!”
Denne is an avid poetry reader, having recently completed James Franco’s ‘Straight/Gay James Franco’, citing him as “an angsty and talented poet”. For music, she’s listening to ‘Gameshow’, Two Door Cinema Club’s new album, which is “super techno and electro beat mixed with alternative rock.” On Netflix, she’s a fan of ‘Girl Boss’.
So to the big question – what is grunge?
“Anything with texture and confidence equals grunge ootd! Seriously though, if you wear everything you own with a moody pout and a whole lot of confidence, you’ll be a standout rebel among the crowd.”
According to Laneikka, grunge’s secret weapon in the face of other styles is that it doesn’t care about what other people think.
“Grunge follows its own path of badges with unpopular political opinions, your dad’s old army jacket and overpriced vintage combat boots! But even so, while you’re wearing these cool threads, you wear them for you…and no one else.”
Laneikka has always had a real eye for curating clothing into looks, or ‘ootds’, as she calls them.
“I totally understand that there are some gals and guys out there that have no idea how to mix things up and still look hot. So my biggest tip for putting together outfits is pretty simple – put different tones of the same colour or pattern, in the same outfit. Now I don’t want you walking around in a matching hot pink velour tracksuit, but if you have a dark red blazer and a light red top, wear ’em together! And you can never go wrong with anything denim or leather, which always goes together.”
Making an outfit “grunge” is not an entirely sartorial matter either. The grunge look spawns from the way you pout, walk, talk and feel. “You can be a grunge boss in your nanas dressing gown if you rock it with attitude.”
Curious to put Laneikka’s grunge tips to the test, I asked her to style me out. I resonate more with Marylin Monroe than Marylin Manson, so taking me from curvaceous bombshell to greasy grunge chick is no mean feat.
However, she endures, bringing with her a collection of vintage flannel, leather, chains and a bit of sequin and sheen for that, I assume, Courtney Love morning-after appearance.
I surrender to her guidance and allow the looks to unfold. Posing threatens to be an issue, as I am still stuck in sultry, pouty cupcake mode, so Laneikka tells me to snarl like I give no damn to the camera.
You can check out the result below.
Ok, still looking a bit come-hither (I’m Russian, I can’t help it), but the experience definitely brought a level grit to my wardrobe – not to mention a more determined posture in the world (who knew slouching could be so brave).
What did I learn?
Grunge is the definition of confidence. Anyone who embodies the mystical ‘grunge ways’ must rock it with such confidence that everyone in the building is captivated by your badass attitude and super slick leather pants.
As Laneikka says, “if you’re gonna go grunge in 2017, go hard or go home! Grunge is a style for the bold and everyone in between!”
Collaboration images by Leeroy Te Hira @leeroy.t