My interview with the photographer Rania Matar last week—whose series A Girl in Her Room depicts teenage girls in their sanctuary (aka the bedroom)—got me all nostalgic about the posters and mags I had in my room growing up in the 90s. Next thing I know, I’ve gone down the rabbit hole—spending hours looking for pictures of Leonardo di Caprio and Johnny Depp (my ultimate crushes, the two boys that fulfilled my teenage girl fantasy of sweet baby-face mixed with brooding bad boy) on Google. Then, there were my girl icons—Cher from Clueless, Daria, Kat from 10 Things I Hate About You, and topping the list, Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 (the original and the best). Let’s not even mention the ensemble cast that was Melrose Place. And I never missed an issue of Smash Hits, ripping out the centrefolds of Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men to adorn my walls with. When there were also free stickers, my life felt complete.
So here I share my wistfulness with you and present the top 10 mag covers from the 90s. We’d love to hear what your fave mag covers and posters were growing up in the 80s and 90s. Comment below or post on our Twitter page, tagging us in!
1. Johnny Depp on Sassy
Ah….I still melt. I was five when this issue came out in May 1990 but within another five years, Johnny Depp was at the top of my heart-throb list. Was I jealous of Winona? Oh you know, just a bit. For shits and giggles, I present to you a review I wrote of a Johnny Depp biography aged 15, entitled “Johnny Depp: Bad Boy or Mr. Nice Guy?”). Am not embarrassed. Johnny4Eva.
2. Will Smith on Seventeen
Who didn’t perk up when they heard the lyrics, “Now, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air”? Love the fashion, love (some) of the female characters, and especially love Carlton’s dance moves.
3. Brenda, Brandon, and Dylan on Rolling Stone
In February 1992, the three biggest stars of Beverly Hills 90210—which changed TV forever when it launched in October 1990—graced the cover of Rolling Stone, and it was just perfect. Let’s face it, we all secretly—or not—preferred Brenda, whose pictured here sandwiched between the show’s biggest dreamboats (sorry Steve and David)—Brandon Walsh (her brother on the show) and Dylan McKay (her bad-boy lover). Pass the popcorn, I’ve got some Beverly Hills marathons to watch.
4. Leonardo di Caprio on Interview
Oh Leo, you read my teenage girl mind! This cover is from June 1994, a year after Leo’s strong performance in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, and a year before his sexy turn in Basketball Diaries. By the time Romeo + Juliet came out in 1996, I was the biggest Leo fan there ever was.
5. The cast of Melrose Place on Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly put out a special edition Melrose Place issue in 1995. And I’m not the least bit shamed to admit that this show and Jackie Collins novels in part shaped my ideas about dating and sex as a teenager. I’ve moved on, am a feminist now, and realize that the women of Melrose Place were either portrayed as bitches, pushovers, or totally bonkers crazy (Kimberley, I’m looking at you), with no layers of complexity whatsoever. Still, I’ll always have fond memories of watching this with my bestie, Julia, in secret from our moms.
6. Alicia Silverstone on Seventeen
When Clueless came out in 1995, Alicia Silverstone firmly took a place not only as the cover girl of teen magazines everywhere, but also in our hearts (sorry, couldn’t resist).
7. Ellen DeGeneres on Time
Same-sex marriage was finally legalized in all 50 US states last month, but back in 1997, Ellen DeGeneres made history by becoming TV’s first openly gay star and gracing the cover of Time. Last year, the ever-pioneering Time made Laverne Cox—the first transgender person nominated for an Emmy—its cover star.
8. Backstreet Boys on Smash Hits
Wow. What a pic. Smash Hits made the popular boy band its cover stars in January 1998. The issue also had articles on Oasis, The Spice Girls, Peter Andre, and Aqua. Pure 90s bliss.
9. Joey of Dawson’s Creek on TV Guide
In March 1998, TV Guide released four collectible issues showing the stars of the hottest new TV show, Dawson’s Creek. Fans could collect covers of Dawson, Jen, Pacey, and of course, Joey, the show’s female protagonist. I’m sure like me you didn’t know what to think of Joey, who we understood one minute and hated the next (and who can get past the annoying side smile?).
10. Sarah Michelle Gellar on Dolly
I grew up in Melbourne so didn’t have access to Seventeen or Nylon, making Dolly and Girlfriend (the Aussie equivalents) my bibles. The October 1998 issue had everyone’s fave vampire slayer, Buffy, on the cover, as well as articles on Drew Barrymore, Tupac, and boy band Five. Remember them? No? I don’t blame you. Although this mag didn’t go beyond boys, beauty, and quizzes, and so is not what I would be advising young girls to read today, it was my a mainstay on my bookshelf—among the Jackie Collins novels.
Main image courtesy of fanpop.com.