Heroin Chic: Analyzing the Fashion Trend of the 90S

Legacy Healing Center Blog

From Uggs to low-rise jeans, the fashion world is seeing a resurgence in questionable styles from the 90s. Now, it seems as though both fashion and physique of the 1990s have resurfaced, including a trend called “heroin chic.” It started in October when Bella Hadid had a dress spray painted onto her body to close out Paris fashion week at Coperni. Her tiny frame, pale skin, and dark undereye circles drew concerns from other models, influencers, and celebrities alike. 


What Is Heroin?

Before we get into what the heroin chic body trend is, let’s understand what heroin is. Heroin is a highly addictive opioid (narcotic) that is known for its euphoric and sedative side effects. Heroin is a synthetic drug made from the opioid morphine that’s commonly produced in illegal laboratories and is often made with random chemicals.  

Like other opioids, heroin works by attaching itself to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, gut, and other areas of the body associated with mood and pleasure. Heroin not only blocks pain signaling but also activates the reward system in the brain, leading to a surge of dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that’s naturally released whenever we do something pleasurable, such as eating. 

When snorted, smoked, or injected, heroin causes a euphoric high along with side effects like respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, and more. Individuals who inject the drug are also presented with additional risks, such as infection at the injection site and exposure to HIV, hepatitis, and more. 


What Is a “Heroin Chic” Body?

So, how do heroin and fashion click? The term “heroin chic” became popular in the mid-1990s and referred to certain features in top fashion models, including pale skin, dark undereye circles, and having a thin, svelte figure. In the years before heroin chic fashion, models were typically physically healthy and vibrant, including figures like Cindy Crawford. 

The mid-90s heroin chic look was meant to be a pushback against the supermodel look of the early 90s and created a new trend that inadvertently encouraged unhealthy behaviors. The heroin chic look was also reflective of various trends in the fashion industry. First, heroin had become purer and was being more commonly used because it was the least expensive of drugs. Intravenous use of heroin was also not the only method of use, with snorting becoming the new form of administration. 

Heroin had also become more popular among the middle-class and celebrities, whereas it has been associated with lower-class communities in the past. The grunge music scene, along with popular movies at the time – such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting – also contributed to heroin chic. The concepts driving the grunge scene were about self-loathing and depression, with the idea of heroin use acting as a coping method for withdrawal from people and escaping from reality.


Heroin Chic Models

The heroin chic trend was embraced by the fashion world as well as the movie industry and pop culture in general, but it’s also caused a lot of fear and concern for most of mainstream America. One of the most famous heroin chic models was Kate Moss, who became known for her extremely thin and waif-like figure and dark undereye circles. 

Other models known for heroin chic-like characteristics included Jaime King and Jodie Kidd. These models were all incredibly thin, almost angular, and they tended to have the grunge look that was popular at the time. 

Calvin Klein campaigns also leaned on this fashion trend, particularly with figures like fashion photographer Davide Sorrenti. Sorrenti died at the age of 20 and was a photographer known for capturing models who not only had the heroin chic appearance but who also took heroin at the time. It was rumored that his death was also due to the heroin chic trend.


Are You Battling Heroin Abuse?

The heroin chic look was about sustaining seemingly unhealthy and extreme thinness, to the point that the most popular models of the 90s appeared emaciated. Nowadays, however, there are growing trends related to body positivity, health, and overall body acceptance. 

On another note, not only has the resurgence of heroin chic threatened to affect the fashion world and those in it (again), but heroin abuse remains a nationwide problem. Long-term heroin addiction can have severe physical and psychological impacts. Even so, people with heroin use disorders usually require professional medical detox and addiction treatment to recover.


For more information about our heroin addiction treatment and other levels of care, call Legacy Healing Center today at 888-534-2295


Related Reading: 

10 Signs of Heroin Addiction

Choosing the Right Heroin Rehab for Your Loved One