'90s Fashion Fix | Catsuits

So we all know how much this chick loves cats. She really REALLY loves cats. Well, I feel exactly the same way... about cat-suits.

[Sidenote: I love cats too, but today we're talking about catSUITS]

I cannot stress this enough - I really REALLY love catsuits. I would never subject innocent passersby to my wearing a catsuit, but I do love them as if they were my own.

Nothing says 1991 quite like a noice, full-body catsuit. Saturday morning Rage (kind of like an Australian version of MTV - for those living across the pond) made sure lots of catsuits made their way onto our screens during the early '90s, and I loved every dang minute of it.

So I wanted to take a closer look at this fabulous fashion fad, and the celebs who totally rocked it... as well as a few who should have maybe opted for a bathrobe or trashcan with the bottom cut out instead. And because I don't want to finish on a bad note, we're going to start with the dishonourable mentions and work our way backwards to the Top 5 undisputed Queens of the Catsuit. I'll make this first part as painless as possible...

Crimes Against Catsuits

First things first. Men have no business donning a catsuit. No business at all. There is one exception to this rule, which we'll look at later, but for now all we need to do is acknowledge that Prince and Marilyn Manson are lumped firmly in the Dishonourable Mentions category for crimes against catsuits. I can almost tolerate Prince, but Mr Manson? I have no idea what's going on there, and I don't want to know. No, Marilyn. Just no. NEXT!

Neneh Cherry. Neneh. Neneh. Neneh. What are we going to do with you? You gave us Buffalo Stance! You're better than this horrible money-patterned getup. This is not what God intended for catsuits. You need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the full length mirror, and think about what you did... in 1990. NEXT!

So Beth Ditto was quite fond of the catsuit wasn't she? I've really got nothing more to add. I have absolutely nothing, Noth-ing. Maybe we should just move along to Li'l Kim... Don't you just hate it when you're whipping up your VMA Awards frock and you run fresh out of material? I HATE THAT! I'm sure Li'l Kim hates it too, and was just doing the best she could with what she had in 1999. Hopefully she'll never let that happen again... NEXT!

Batmen, Catgirls & Jokey McJokesters

And henceforth lies the singular exception to the 'no catsuits for men' rule: it is actually OK for a person with testicles to wear a catsuit if, and only IF, they are appearing in a Batman movie. That I can deal with. So Jim Carey - you're safe my friend. But Marilyn Manson... you aint in no Batman movie honey. Batman movies are maybe even the origin of the catsuit, but let's not jump ahead of ourselves. Let's look at some pretty pictures of superheroes & supervillains in full-bodied latex & lycra... simply BREATHTAKING!

Well helloooo Michelle Pfeiffer. Mreoow to you too!

Honourable Mentions

This Donna Karan ad from 1990 reflects the upper class market taking to the catsuit as well. I love imagining divorced wives in their late 40s sauntering down Rodeo Drive in a catsuit. That makes me happy. Good ol' Kylie was still clinging to the catsuit, even in 1994. Remember her awesome music video for Confide In Me? That also makes me happy. 'Snap!' embraced the catsuit in their video for Rhythm Is A Dancer. I can't be sure, but it's entirely possible that that is a dude sporting that purple catsuit below, and we all know my stance on that. I'm allowing it because a.) I can't be 100% sure, and b.) it's such an industrious use of the catsuit. He/she looks like a cross between a Teletubbie & a Power Ranger. Brilliant.

It'd be a cold day in hell before Madonna would let a major fashion trend go untouched. Naturally she adopted the more fetish-orientated version of the catsuit in the video for Human Nature (nope, I'd never heard of it either). Mariah Carey even gave the catsuit a whirl in Vision Of Love, although she didn't do anything terribly interesting with it. She pretty much just languishes around smooching a cat. There's a pun in there somewhere... something something cat... ho hum. And then there's the lovely Sophie Lee sporting a gorgeous pink feather boa/pink catsuit combo from her short-lived days in the far-too-drug-dependent outfit, the Freaked Out Flower Children. The gang must've headed out for a day on the 'shrooms one weekend, and made the video for Spill The Wine while they were out there.

Betty Boo was certainly a strong proponent of the catsuit, bless her patent leather boots. Collette retired her fluro bike pants, gloves & suspenders in 1990, got herself a chic new hairo, and rocked the velour catsuit like it's nobody's business. That short-sleeved silver Chanel catsuit, with bonus cred for the additional chunky jewellery, is everything. It's hard to keep going after that, but I'll soldier on... knowing the joys that still await us on the other end.

Gianni Versace dressed Christy Turlington in this epic catsuit for the cover of the December 1990 issue of Vogue (UK), and then sent her down the runway in a similar suit, alongside fellow superperson Linda Evangelista. Dolly magazine did Aussie teenage girls a solid and showed us all of the ways we could rock the catsuit ourselves, if we were so inclined. There was never any way I was going to chance it, but my high school friend Sarah looked amazing in a simple black catsuit. Damn her!

Before we get to the Top 5 countdown, I'd like us to take a moment to fully appreciate this fierce catsuit editorial of Daniela Pestova from a 1992 Harper's Bazaar...

STUNNING!


Top 5 Catsuit Queens

This is the part where I get really excited! These 5 ladies are all worthy recipients of Catsuit Crowns. Here we go...

#5. Jenny Morris - Break In The Weather (1991)

If I could rank Jenny Morris higher I most definitely would. But since Jenny's catsuit stylin' is restricted to this one film clip (to my knowledge) I have to look at the bigger picture. But Jiminy Cricket does this chick know how to ROCK A CATSUIT! It's like a masterclass in catsuit wearing. The entire music video is one of my all time favourites. Check it out!

#4. Posh Spice

Victoria Beckham took to the catsuit like Michael Jackson took to propofol. Too soon? Say what you like about Posh Spice; the woman has got great style. The fact that she rocked catsuits puts an end to any residual doubt for me. The music videos for Say You'll Be There (1996) & Too Much (1997) were a little late to join the catsuit party, and are just the tip of Victoria's catsuit iceberg.

#3. Lady Miss Kier

Lady Miss Kier - of Deee-Lite fame - combined catsuits with the other great fashion fad of the early '90s - retro '60s styles. This is where I begin to space out about the years I've lived so far. In 1990 - 1960 was our retro. In 2016 - 1990 is our retro. Can you hear Bill & Ted? Woah man! So for services to retro fashion, we salute you Lady Miss Kier!

#2. Cathy Dennis

She wasn't on the scene for very long, but for the time Cathy Dennis WAS around she was rarely ever seen out of her catsuits. They were her signature item. Her closet was home to green, red, pink & faithful ol' black catsuits. And they were always turtleneck (my favourite catsuit neckline) & they all had that radtastic keyhole cut out of the chest part. Cathy Dennis ROCKED those catsuits...

#1. Julie Newmar

There's a lovely circle of life vibe going on with our #1 Catsuit Queen.

Julie Newmar starred as Catwoman in the original (& the best) 1966-67 TV series of Batman. It's entirely possible the catsuit even originated with Catwoman, so in essence we can look towards Julie Newmar as a pioneer of the catsuit.

I have absolutely nothing to back that up with, but it certainly seems plausible so let's run with it for a moment. If the catsuit was born in the '60s, it was MADE in the '90s. And Julie Newmar was there for it all.

Revisiting her catsuit days 26 years later, for George Michael's Too Funky in 1992, Ms Newmar was actually in danger of being TOO. DAMN. FUNKY. She looks fierce. She owns her black latex catsuit and it's like she's letting that fresh crop of 'supermodels' know that she's still the reigning Queen of the Catwalk/Catsuit and there aint nothin' they can do about it y'all.

And that is why Julie Newmar bags the top spot. All hail Catsuit Queen - Ms Julie Newmar!

 

FASHION EDITORIALS | CREDITS

Harper's Bazaar (US) May 1992

Cover: Niki Taylor | Photography: Rico Puhlmann | Makeup: Rumiko | Hair: Mark Garrison

Wild for Catsuits: Daniela Pestova | Photography: Steve White | Hair & Makeup: Dawn Jacobson

Dolly Magazine (Australia) April 1991

Cover: Winona Ryder | Photography: Blake Little

One-Piece Wonders: model unknown | Photography: Derek Henderson | Hair & Makeup: Michele Deveraux | Styling: Roxan Geranio