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nss 90s: the cult of Winona Ryder

Not just a simple actress, but the face of the 90s generation

nss 90s: the cult of Winona Ryder Not just a simple actress, but the face of the 90s generation

Blur vs. Oasis, River Phoenix, P.J. Harvey, Winona Ryder, Kurt & Courtney, My own private Idaho, Afterhours and Marlene Kuntz, Johnny & Kate, Trip Hop, Jeff Buckley, Liv Tyler, Vincent Gallo, Spice Girls and Take That, Beverly Hills 90210, the Riot Girls, the Buffalo, Fiona Apple, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the pacifier-shaped pendants, Cioè, Sofia Coppola, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the denim overalls, the Invicta backpack, ...

The 90s are back and nss wants to celebrate them in its own way, inaugurating a format entirely dedicated to those magical years: nss 90s!

We, who lived through that period, will tell you about the fashion, the marriages, the icons, the movies, its objects, its trends, the songs and the phenomena that have marked the decade, for better or for worse.

Starting with the face of Generation X: Winona Ryder (aka the mother of the kid who died in the first season of Stranger Things).


She wanted to be a writer, maybe a skater.

It ended up that she became not just an actress, but an icon of an entire generation.

Those who weren't teenagers in the early 90s cannot even imagine how powerful, invasive and pervasive the figure of Winona Ryder was.

A daughter of the intellectual counterculture (creators of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library, the world's largest library of psychoactive drug publications), she was born in Minnesota and raised in a radical Californian hippie community together with the likes of Timothy Leary, the LSD guru, as her godfather. Obsessed with JD Salinger and "Catcher in the Rye", and bullied as a child because of her boyish look, she became part of the DNA of anyone who grew up in the decade of the 90's.

When she was seven years old Noni (aka "no knee"), as her friends called her, sees Greer Garson in "Random Harvest" and decides she wants to be like her, an actress. No sooner had the thought been done, when makes her film debut not long after, in the comedy "Lucas", but her life (and that of many of ours) changes when Tim Burton casts her for the role of the young witch Lydia Deetz in "Beetlejuice" and, above all, in that of Kim Boggs in "Edward Scissorhands", a dark tale that seals the media "marriage" with Johnny Depp and crowns one of the coolest couples in history. Like all the rest of the world, the young rebellious actor of the "21 Jump Street" series is enchanted by her fawn eyes and diaphanous skin, but also by a certain mixture of fragility, neurosis, strength, ingenuity, and sagacity.

All traits manifested in the numerous characters she's played on screen: from angry teen, Veronica Sawyer of "Heathers" to the martyrs' life, lived by Charlotte Flax in "Mermaids." From the iconic Mina Murray of "Dracula" by Francis Ford Coppola to the rebel Jo March of "Little women", from the aristocratic May Welland of "The age of innocence" to the aspiring director Leilana Pierce of "Reality Bites", the psyche poster of Generation X.

Each film serves to highlight the image of an alienated teenager, someone who is never completely at home in her own skin, the dark antidote to any heroine of John Hughes, the impersonation of a certain romantic unease that makes her an outsider, constantly out of time.

Out of time and at the same time an incarnation of the spirit of its era, Ryder is a winning contradiction.

She had the perfect personality and style, at the right time and place.

Fashionable and alternative long before those words became another way to sell, she constantly balanced between delicate femininity and unrepentant grunge.

She loves red lipsticks and men's jackets, elegant vintage dresses and worn-out looks, tomboy, androgynous pieces and antique lace.

Call it normcore, gothic, grunge, vintage, pre-hipster ... it does not matter, there is always something unique about her, something that is difficult to ignore and not to love.

It is not only the world of cinema that realized it, but in all the medias. They become the ones that contend for Noni's images, to promote her as the non-conformist goldengirl of America, to shout out to the miracle cool girl every time she appears on the screen, changing clothes or simply combing he hair. When she cut her short hair in 1993, she seems to have made a revolutionary gesture or invented the pixie cut. Vogue announced:

"The new pixie cut by Winona Ryder recalls Audrey Hepburn's chic gamine".

And the world went crazy.

Winona is an international star. Ubiquitous. Ubercool. Iconic.

The media pressure on the actress becomes more and more suffocating and crushing, but she goes her own way, finding new boyfriends (the most enduring being Dave Pirner, lead singer of Soul Asylum) and one film after another.

Until something breaks.

Two episodes that seem to push the 'it' girl into oblivion lasting about twenty years. The first is in March 2000, when the actress attends an award ceremony with the Oscar for best-supporting star, Angelina Jolie, co-star in "Girl, Interrupted", a project strongly pushed by Ryder who, though not even named, is seen to snatch the honors away from her colleague, and daughter of "Hollywood royalty."

The second, the one that will open a Pandora's box of malice difficult to close, was the compulsive shopping-kleptomania scandal.

If before her name was enough to unroll the red carpet, now all the doors slammed in her face.

It's the end of an era.

At least in one reality, because in the parallel world of the internet Winona has never ceased to be iconic, to live, crystallized in eternal adolescence.

Our "Nostalgia" keeps her captured there, just as she remains in our memory and in our hearts, hand in hand with her then boyfriend, Johnny Depp.

Equal to herself.

Perfectly imperfect.