Defining a Nineties Icon
What makes an icon? It's not just about being famous (though that certainly is a big part of it), but being famous for the right reasons. An icon is someone who is imitated, emulated, and revered, to the point where they become representational of the culture of their respective era.
The ‘90s was defined by the rise in feminism, the increased skepticism of the government, and the acceptance of alternative forms of lifestyle and culture. It was an era that embraced the power of the individual to contribute to the community. It also marked the very beginning of the Internet age, helped by the development of technologies that would change the world in the ‘00s.
The icons of the ‘90s were utterly symbolic of these shifting trends and forces. So who exactly were these icons, and where are they now?
1. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo’s face was plastered on the walls of practically every teenage girl in the ‘90s. Starring in romance films that defined the decade like Titanic and Romeo + Juliet, he's continued on to become one of the most prominent figures in all of Hollywood. Among his more recent hits includes The Wolf Of Wall Street, where he starred alongside Margot Robbie.
2. The Spice Girls
Because of the rise of equal representation in the music industry, a lot of influential 90’s women are icons! And the Spice Girls are a perfect example of this trend of ‘girl-power’ taking the world by storm. This British girl group soared to fame with their catchy, strong lyrics, and overall funkiness. They've drifted their separate ways since the ‘90s, but fortunately for fans, they're reuniting for one more hurrah around the world.
3. Brad Pitt
Known for playing cocky and confident characters, Brad Pitt has swooned his way into the hearts of moviegoers worldwide. Although he’s now in his fifties, Brad Pitt hasn't lost an ounce of his signature smouldering looks. He's taken a more backseat role in film and media but he’s still a familiar face on the big screen, recently starring in the upcoming Once Upon A Time In Hollywood with Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. Naomi Campbell
One of the most inspirational fashion icons of all time, Naomi Campbell was one of the first black women to ever appear on the cover of French Vogue magazine. She proved herself as a fierce and fabulous supporter of both women empowerment and people of colour in the ‘90s, and she still regularly appears on runways and fashion magazines around the world.
5. Britney Spears
The darling princess of the decade, Britney Spears lived a colourful life of music, partying, and media glamour like no other star at the time. However, after a media fallout in the ‘00s, she faded out of public consciousness, and was placed under a conservatorship in response to her mental health issues. In 2021, the true circumstances of her conservatorship, held by her father for many years, came to light in a series of court appearances. Most recently, he has been removed from the conservatorship in order for Britney to obtain better quality of life.
6. Mel Gibson
The mind behind the classic film Braveheart, Mel Gibson was one of the powerhouses of acting and film production during the ‘90s. After a brief dip in his public image during the early ‘00s, he's since returned to spotlight thanks to his directorship role in multi-award winning film Hacksaw Ridge.
7. Whitney Houston
Whitney's soulful voice and powerful lyrics made her a musical giant in the ‘90s, where she recorded some of the best-selling music in history. While the latter half of her life was shadowed by personal trouble and drug use that ultimately led to her untimely death, her music still remains a memorable influence on the entire music industry.
Nirvana has long been hailed as one of the greatest 90s music icons, and one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Known for their dynamic sound that characterised grunge for years to come, Nirvana shocked the world with headbanging guitar riffs and infectious musical hooks. While it ultimately saw its end with the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, their legacy and influence – particularly in members like David Grohl – live on even today.
9. Jennifer Lopez
Before she was Jenny from the Block, Jennifer Lopez stunned audiences everywhere with her role in 1997's Selena. She's gone on to become a fiery fashion and music icon, and she looks just as good as she did in the ‘90s!
10. Jennifer Aniston
Rising to fame on one of the most beloved sitcoms of the '90s, Friends, Jennifer Aniston inspired envy all over the world with her perfect hair, girl-next-door looks and marriage to '90's heartthrob, Brad Pitt. Since those days she has only gone from one success to the other, starring in many films, and most recently winning a SAG award for her work on Morning Wars.