It’s been 20 years since the death of Selena Perez, which seems as unbelievable as it is unfair. Today, April 16, the iconic singer would have turned 44, and we want to celebrate by paying tribute to Selena’s eclectic, often-controversial, and groundbreaking sense of style -- especially since the looks she pioneered back in the early-to-mid 1990s are showing up now. (And were actually pieces she designed herself.)
So sit back, crank your copy of Dreaming of You, and bask in the fashion sense of a singer whose aesthetic was (and is) just as life-changing as her music. (Then, of course, watch the movie and sob.)
(Story continues below slideshow.)
1. Houston Alamodome, Texas (February 26, 1995)
If you’ve seen "Selena," you know what concert I’m talking about: a couple of months before her death, Selena showed up in a sequined jumpsuit and performed at the Alamodome for almost 67,000 fans, making it the largest event there to date (until 2001). It was recreated (arguably) perfectly by Jennifer Lopez in the biopic, and so was said jumpsuit: with cut-outs, sparkles, and a removable jacket, it looked straight from the Balmain S/S 2015 collection.
There’s only one person who can get away with a shirt that puffy, and it isn’t Jerry Seinfeld. However, Selena’s flair for mixing and matching clothes (in this case, ruffles and leather) was just an extension of her personality and persona. She mixed up music genres, challenged gender norms, and started her own fashion line. Of course she wasn’t going to deign to dressing safe.
Now let’s talk more about risks. To be frank, this isn’t the first time Selena stepped out in sheer, and it also isn’t the first time she paired what could be a very delicate piece with something the opposite. At one point, she wears a black sheer top with metallic overalls (or something), while this time, she opted for leather and a bustier. And what makes it even more interesting is that this was just one in a long line of looks that couldn’t be more different than the one before it.
Lest we forget that moment in cinematic history when Selena (played by Jennifer Lopez) removes her denim jacket to reveal a beaded bustier, much to Edward James Olmos’ horror and dismay. In a word, it’s the greatest. (Although technically, that’s two words.) And it’s also part of the foundation of this year’s spring looks: Donna Karan’s crop tops live in the spirit as Selena’s signature look, while Sibling paid homage to everything from the fit to the embellishments.
The day another person can pull of a matching hat, belt and bustier is the day we start over as a people because how dare somebody else even try.
We’ve already sung the praises of Selena’s ability to embellish (and pull off said embellishments), but now let us focus on a top so elaborate it looks like it’s been pulled from the racks of Saint Laurent’s spring collection. Ultimately, what this look succeeds in is evoking the singer’s fearlessness: she was bold and loud in the most wonderful way, and her flair for colour and decorum reflected that. Also, if anybody tries to tell you this isn’t the most '90s outfit in the world, cut them out of your life.
Wearing a dazzling white (and/or potentially gold) gown to the 1994 Grammys, Selena once again cemented herself as a style force (because again, lest we forget fashion was a serious passion), with a jeweled dress that was interesting not just for its embellishments (and shine), but for its geometric, Flintstones-like collar. Just please no one tell me the dress is actually black and blue because this isn’t the time for that.
Another piece perfectly recreated by Jennifer Lopez, Selena’s 1993 two-piece was a Lycra manufacturer's dream -- and/or the inspiration behind Tom Ford’s spring pieces. Another testament to Selena’s “if I look great in it, I’ll wear it” approach to style, the outfit is easily one of her (and cinema history’s) finest, outdone only by her updo, which we obviously all tried to recreate at subsequent proms.
Admittedly, yes, we’ve covered Selena’s affinity for leather. But despite her risks with fabrics and texture, she didn’t tend to wear a lot of animal print (minus this vest). However, her approach to the print always kept it wearable and not intimidating: by pairing it with neutrals or jeans, she made it fun and less scary. (Even when she wore it on a hat.)
To be honest, this is just me trying to prove that overalls are the most necessary fashion piece you can own. (So simple! So relaxed!) If Selena can wear them, then why can’t you?