Courtney Love Brings Her Style to Millennials

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You probably won't look as cool as Courtney Love.
You probably won't look as cool as Courtney Love.Photo: Mick Hutson

Last May, I went to see Courtney Love play at the Hollywood Bowl during her tour with Lana Del Rey. I was there for Courtney, not so much for Lana, but I was sad to find myself among the minority: The flower crowns in the crowd that night definitely outnumbered the baby-doll dresses. Onstage, Love gently mocked the crowd for having no idea who she was and wondering whether she was Lana’s mom.

I was decked out in my lace tights, paying my respects to the Live Through This era, while Love channeled Celebrity Skin in a long silk slipdress and no shoes. She ripped and snarled through Hole’s greatest hits, while I fought the urge to scream at the 19-year-old next to me, who was decked out in a red flower crown and high-necked white dress, and doing her best sad-girl pout again and again and again until she’d composed the perfect Snapchat. I felt like someone’s dad at a Grateful Dead concert.

But what does translate to the youth is Love’s style, as evidenced by the Nasty Gal–Courtney Love collaboration that’s available today. Updated and repackaged for 2016’s Girl Boss acolytes, that means baby-doll dresses, silk maxi dresses, witchy kimonos, lace bodysuits, high-waisted black panties, and mary janes that say “Love, Courtney” on the inside. If you ask Love, they’re clothes for “the Nasty Gals,” or, as Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso puts it, a wardrobe “for the girl with the most cake.”

We talked to Love — and her Nasty Gal collaborator, Amoruso — about why her ‘90s style deserved a Girl Boss upgrade, and why times may change, but she’s still not eating cheese.

Courtney, I just have to ask you, because I’m sort of obsessed with the fact that you are as obsessed with cheese as I am — have you started eating it again?
Courtney Love: I talk about cheese? Oh that thing from Lisa Suckdog from 1991? That’s so funny. But it’s so true. Cheese is so evil, man. I think it’s addictive. I still don’t eat much of it now. Especially not right now — I gotta look good for this Nasty Gal party tonight, don’t I, Sophia?

Sophia Amoruso: Far out.

How did this collaboration come about?
C.L.: I really wanted to design for a long time. I had been making clothes and they were really not cost-effective: They were Edwardian, and they were 1920s, and I was cutting them up and dyeing them and making these crazy clothes and there was nowhere to sell them. I was giving them to friends. My drummer and friend Scott Lipps introduced me to the guy who started the fashion department at CAA, and he talked me down off the cliff. He was like, Courtney, you’ve got to be realistic, this is not what’s ever going to sell, we need to find you a good partner to talk some sense into you. I know just the person and that person is Sophia Amoruso. So I looked at the Nasty Gal website and Frances did, too, and she liked it. And if Frances Bean loves it, it’s pretty cool.

Why did you feel like Nasty Gal was the right partner for you?
C.L.: I read Girl Boss. I love Sophia’s work ethic. That was a big part of it. We had a lot of shared history of how we became women that are in charge of doing stuff. I really liked the clothes on there. Some of that stuff is like — showing off your stomach is not for me right now. My bikini game is not that strong. I was really attracted to Sophia because she’s cool, and she understands my same references. It was a perfect pairing.

And Sophia, why was Courtney an obvious choice for a collaboration?
S.A.: Courtney’s a provocative person: she’s outspoken, she’s free, she’s wild, she’s a rock icon. She has a singular style. There are very few female musicians that you can look at and say, “I understand this person’s look.” In the age of the celebrity stylist, people who have their own style really stand out. She’s someone whose style has been borrowed by many high-end designers. She’s been a muse over the decades and never really taken credit for all of these inspirations she’s thrown into the world.

How did the design process work? Was it always going to be based off of your iconic outfits or did you guys come to the table with totally new ideas?
S.A.: It was really organic. I came with some references that I wanted to include and Courtney told me what she did and didn’t want to be included. I got to go to her house and get into her closet and pull out these iconic pieces. It was exciting.

C.L.: It was very fun. We’re kind of the opposite. Sophia is very organized; I’m very chaotic. We have different skill sets and they complement each other. I mean, her staff was fantastic; I just had one girl on staff dedicated to lingerie and all we did was talk about lace all day long.

We were using older dresses of mine, they were considered iconic — a dress I played Glastonbury in, a dress I played Reading Festival in, a dress I played Lollapalooza in — but we were considering who the Nasty Gal client was. I didn’t want it to be just retro but also modern and cool and now, not just copying my wardrobe.

S.A.: Courtney weighed in on every step of the process, she looked at every sketch, every swatch; you know, she said she wanted a lace bodysuit, a head-to-toe catsuit, so we made that. She said she wanted some nice lace doodads, so we figured out how to do it. But we added things like chokers — it’s not something she’d wear, but it’s the spirit. I want people to wear this stuff and have their own experiences and their own take.

Courtney, in sort of repackaging you for millennial women, you have to acknowledge that a lot of women shopping at Nasty Gal might not really know who you are beyond a fashion icon. What would you explain to them about who you are as a cultural figure or what they can learn from you?
C.L.: Listen, man, I just want more girls to play guitar.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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A shot from the look book.Photo: Courtesy of Nasty Gal