With all the ‘90s nostalgia currently floating around the interwebs, it’s no surprise that MTV—-known for its spot-on digital strategy—-has decided to relaunch the series, first with an online archive of old clips that lives on MTV Style, then through a documentary to be released on August 7 called House of Style: Music, Models and MTV. Finally, the network plans to hire a new host—who will be announced on the red carpet of the MTV Video Music Awards on September 6.
With its style blog already garnering around one million uniques a month, reviving House of Style is certainly a strategic move. I spoke with the execs behind the venture—Sophia Rai (vice president MTV Digital, who’s leading the project) and Dave Sirulnick (executive vice president, Multiplatform Production, News and Music at MTV, who’s been at the network for, well, ever)—about what’s ahead for House of Style.
Fashionista: House of Style is one of those brands that fashion-y people in their late ‘20s, early ‘30s are really obsessed with. We’ve been waiting for its return for what feels like forever. Why now?
Dave Sirulnick: House of Style had a really big impact. When it came to an end we sort of let it go for a while. Just over a year and a half ago, we started a style blog, which the audience has been gravitating towards. Today’s fashion is dipped in the past. Every young person we’ve talked to about where they’re getting their fashion inspiration, it’s the late 80s, the 90s. It makes sense, a good 15 years has gone by. So we realized we had this amazing treasure trove, and we developed the House of Style archive. We really wanted to get that back out there. Not much of it is on YouTube. Not all of these episodes are out there. There’s this archive you can dig into.What are some of the clips you think readers are really going to respond to?
Sophia Rai: One of the favorite clips in the building is definitely with Naomi Campbell. House of Style is in her hotel room, and Linda Evangelista and Kristen McMenamy are there. As Linda and Kristen leave, Naomi gets into her night routine. She puts on zit cream! That really resonated with our audience, that’s just an awesome moment. Another is the X-Girl fashion show. Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze were producing producing the fashion show. You see people leaving the Marc Jacobs show and going downtown to this guerrilla fashion show. It was such an important fashion moment of the 90s, and you see Sofia and Spike before the way we know them to be now. Cindy Crawford? She took Duran Duran shopping at Sears. She didn’t feel pressure to be the cool person.
Dave Sirulnick: Todd Oldham. We loved working with Todd, he did a DIY of the week. They’re these amazing little pieces that are just so inspiring–how to make over a bland dorm room, showing guys how to cut their hair. These fun, quirky elements were a wonderful mix with high fashion. That mix of high and low, that was a big part of House of Style. Especially in the pre-Internet days. Another big element was humor. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of humor in fashion, there was more of a preciousness. We wanted to bring out the personalities, the fun side they had.
So you’re not re-launching the 30-minute tv show, though. At least not yet. Why?
Dave Sirulnick: The idea of the new House of Style is that it runs on all of our platforms. MTV is a fully multi-media company. You’ll see it on television, on the web, on our aps. Not a lot of people are looking to consume 20-minute television shows on their phones. At least not yet. We want to make it really accessible for our audiences. Pieces will get windowed on to television, with the notion of the ability to to a longer form programming style. The documentary is a long form piece.
So, in terms of the new content: Things have changed since 1989–even since the late ‘90s. Models, actors, musicians are much more guarded and PR-ed up. How do you plan on infusing that off-the-cuff feeling into the new stuff your team creates?
Dave Sirulnick: Everybody has to deal with time moving on. But it’s going to be able to have that same spirit. A lot of people who are in the know want to work with us. There’s going to be some openness, because of the long-standing credibility.
Sophia Rai: We do want to go backstage with models, and the people that we talk to have such a fondness for the show that they want to be involved. But the original series didn’t just cover the convergence of music and fashion, it also featured architecture, design. We want to do that, too.
Finally, any hints as to who you’ve chosen as the new host?
Sophia Rai: We don’t have the host just yet. We’re talking to a lot of people. Probably everyone you’re thinking of and everyone you’re not.
So… Any guesses?
And so you can relive the magic of the X-Girl fashion show: