It’s 26 th of August. A van driven by ‘roadie’ Kurt Cobain and featuring his artwork is auctioning on eBay this weekend
Couple of days ago, when visiting one of the monstrous ‘cool’ chain stores I saw a sweatshirt with an image of the musician in his iconic outfit. Picture that was shot by Jesse Frohman for London Observer Magazine in 1993. The shoot took place just five months before Cobain’s death, and they’re some of the last ever taken of him. In characteristic Cobain fucked-up-ness, he arrived at the shoot three hours late, in a leopard coat with red painted nails and white sunglasses that he refused to take off;
I loved the sweatshirt instantly and looked at the price to discover that it is much more then I was expecting. It was something around 50 or 60 euros. I thought to myself that Kurt would rather not like it. His own image is being sold to mainstream that he hated so much for a lot of money to make money. So what is left of his grunge legacy and what the heck is this sweatshirt doing here?
I remember listening to Nirvana age 13, absolutely fascinated, having three out of four walls in my room covered with Kurts and Nirvana images that I’ve managed to collect from alien at that point Internet or steal from my older cousin’s poster collection. When I was growing up Nirvana was around but it felt more like being part of an outcast if you listened to the band, rather then belonging to something like everyone else then that listen to POP and Britney Spears. Because that’s what it was like then it was representing teenage angs and anarchy against ALL. And it felt good to rebel against my father that was continuously pissed that I listened to the tunes too loud, that I wore strange shoes (DMs), colour my hair blue or pierced my belly button and tongue.
Today it feels opposite, I can go to Urban Outfitters and choose from the sizes they offer the sweatshirt with Kurts image when I’m not even sure if kids recognise who this guy in funny sunglasses is (that by the way you can also buy on Amazon by simply typing in : Kurt Cobains iconic sunglasses), pick a Walkman for 40 euros and a old school cassette of Nirvana for 12 to look more like what ? Hip ? Cool ? Don’t give a fuck ? Or is it just nostalgia for an icon that todays reality seems to be missing?
One thing for sure, Kurt is not just as one of the most prolific rock artists of my generation but he has clearly got an influence on fashion today. Where grunge, a movement that revolutionised the cultural landscape of the 1990s, and one that continues to reverberate in fashion and music came into life because Cobain pulled liberally from both ends of a woman’s and a man’s wardrobe. It was completely counter to the flashy aesthetic of the 1980s in every way and brings a smile on my face to see that kids still recognise Nirvana for its symbol of rebel. At the same time though I don’t think that the mainstream fashion should be using his image to represent what’s trendy now. R.I.P Kurt