The comparisons began when the click of cameras met the click of Olivia Rodrigo’s white platform shoes outside the White House on Wednesday.
Did Ms. Rodrigo wear a pink Chanel skirt suit from 1995 on her vaccination mission and channel Elle Woods’ Barbie aesthetic in Law School’s “Legally Blonde”? Was she referring to Cher Horowitz’s plaid sets in “Clueless”? Was her choice inspired by the famous, fashionable first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis? (A slightly unsettling suggestion, given the occasion most associated with that particular pink Chanel suit.)
“All of these references were in the back of our minds,” said Chenelle Delgadillo, who works with her sister Chloe as Ms. Rodrigo’s stylist. But the stylists were careful about being too obvious with a single reference – and making a statement that would undermine the White House’s vaccine campaign.
“Politics is always tricky,” said Ms. Delgadillo. “We didn’t want it to be red or blue. I didn’t want the internet to read more into the outfit than necessary, which is often the case. “
In her public appearances, Ms. Rodrigo, the 18-year-old pop star behind the hit single “Drivers License” (and now the No. 1 album in the USA) wears almost exclusively fashion from the 1990s and 2000s. It’s part of what makes her the perfect middle-part avatar for her generation.
Thrift has become a defining shopping habit of Generation Z, whose members account for more than 40 percent of the global $ 28 billion market for secondhand fashion, according to an annual report from ThredUp, an online mail order company. On the resale platform Depop, 90 percent of the active users are younger than 26. For the environmentally conscious Generation Zer, resale has meanwhile become a sustainable and ethical alternative to fast fashion.
Ms. Rodrigo, who buys and sells her clothes at Depop, “doesn’t necessarily care about the brand,” said Ms. Delgadillo. “She never asks, ‘Who is that?’ She asks: ‘Is this vintage or is it second hand?’ “
Prior to her visit to the White House, Ms. Rodrigo spent her post-album appearances in pink ’90s leather pants by Versace and printed jeans by Jean Paul Gaultier. Earlier this summer she paired a Vivienne Westwood plaid mini skirt with another Gen Z staple, the extreme lingerie-inspired crop top.
Each of these vintage pieces come from the Aralda Vintage store in Los Angeles, a popular resource for celebrity stylists, including Ms. Rodrigo’s stylists. This is also where Ms. Rodrigo found her White House outfit – a pink tweed set with checkered stripes (red, yellow, turquoise, and black slivers) that crossed at her waist to create a corset effect.
She also wore white patent plateau heels by Giuseppe Zanotti, which were almost 6 inches tall (previously seen on Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande); black socks were added to make the outfit look less sexy and more youthful and unexpected. The heels were later swapped for black Chanel loafers at the White House – a convenient choice, her stylists said.
If the logo-engraved buttons and tweed wool of her suit – a bit warm for the 90-degree heat of DC – didn’t make the outfit’s origins clear enough, Ms. Rodrigo also wore a thin silver belt with dangling charms that spell out Chanel.
When Karl Lagerfeld presented the suit on his catwalk show in the spring of 1995, he made a similar version in purple and light blue. The New York Times described the suits in this collection almost 27 years ago as “seductive,” as if to say that “sex is power to women, and displaying femininity, not suppressing it, is what women do.” triumphs over men. “
When Ms. Rodrigo’s stylists reached out to Aralda Vintage specifically for Chanel suits, it felt like “Kismet,” said Brynn Jones, the store owner. She has several in her inventory, but immediately thought of the pink and purple suits she’d bought in spring 1995.
“I feel awfully nostalgic about this particular collection – 1995 was the year the movie ‘Clueless’ came out and you can see so much of that era in this collection,” said Ms. Jones. “I was 10 years old when I first saw ‘Clueless’ and as cheesy as it sounds, the film was so impressive. I don’t think I ever looked at clothes again. Every time I’m able to find a special Chanel piece from the 90s, it’s a small win for both the tween in me and the 35-year-old. “
Ms. Jones’ inventory is eclectic and youthful, she said, and she described Ms. Rodrigo as a “dream customer” who goes beyond her personal style – someone who is “aware of what’s going on with the environment and how destructive fast fashion is. ”
“Olivia has worked with a few stylists and they all say she always wants vintage,” said Ms. Jones. “This newer generation is all they want.”