Her sense of style during the decade was, in a few words: cool, insouciant, and absolutely untouchable. During the ’90s, Amber Valletta effortlessly ruled the runways of every designer from Louis Vuitton to Prada, Gucci, and Versace. Her supermodel status was further solidified by her famously close friendship with equally stylish super Shalom Harlow, with whom she shared an apartment and hosted the culty MTV show “House of Style” from 1995 to 1996. On the catwalk, Valletta had an air of confidence like no one else, and her walk was fierce, often stealing focus from friends Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.
At events and in public, she took fashion risks that paid off. Think: a full-blown kimono rendered in shades of bright red and purple, or a bodycon black dress made anything but basic with a circular cutout above the chest and thigh-high slit.
She was unapologetic when playing both sides of the style field: as both a maximalist and a minimalist. She mixed high-impact Miami-esque prints and fearlessly rocked a plunging gold brocade jumpsuit with a matching jacket. Days later, she’d show up to a party wearing a simple black slipdress and jeweled choker, or an equally sleek charcoal blazer and trousers. Her ever-changing look was supported with an effortless blonde wavy lob, always parted in the center during the early ’90s, and worn with a sultry green cat eye or fresh-faced dewy skin that made her look as if she rolled up without a stitch of makeup.
During the 2000s, Valletta transitioned to a career in acting and starred in films ranging from “Hitch” to “Man About Town,” before making a return to fashion with her own line, Master & Muse in 2013, and landing roles in soapy ABC confections “Revenge” and “Blood and Oil.”
But to me, her style during the ’90s is still completely inspiring. Looking back at photos of the former model, her look is everything fashion lovers want to embody when getting dressed in the morning right now. We almost look as if we’ve stolen her clothes. Amber’s scarlet-red long-sleeve dress with matching skinny scarf worn to the 1999 CFDA awards: basically what all the It-girls (we’re looking at you, Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and Kendall Jenner) are wearing now. Messy, wavy lobs and no-makeup makeup? It’s practically a requirement for street-style stars, editors, and cool girls from New York to Paris.
In honor of Amber Valletta’s 42nd birthday today, click through to see some of her best looks on and off the runway during the ’90s.