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February 20, 2024

Kurt Cobain in Dresses

“I like to wear dresses because they’re comfortable,” Kurt Cobain told Melody Maker in December 1992. “There’s nothing more comfortable than that cozy flower pattern… It just feels comfortable, sexy and free wearing a dress. It’s fun.”

In 1991 Kurt Cobain wore a vintage canary-yellow ball gown on MTV’s popular heavy metal program Headbangers Ball. He also wore a dress in several scenes of Nirvana’s music video for “In Bloom.” In January 1993, Cobain performed in Rio de Janeiro in a tiara and a black slip-on dress. Later that year Cobain, alongside bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, also posed in a dress for the November issue of Mademoiselle Magazine.

Cobain frequently confessed to being more in touch with his feminine than male side growing up. This often put him at odds with the macho attitudes of others he lived alongside in the conservative North American logging town of Aberdeen. In addition to a fascination with women’s clothes, Cobain also experimented with makeup from a young age. As an adult, he wore women’s underwear regularly around the house. Most famously he wore lingerie to an important meeting with music industry powerbroker David Geffen. What is more, he regularly dyed his hair blue, red, brown and bleached blonde.

Despite challenging gender norms, Cobain denied his dress-wearing was a subversive act. In grunge biography Live Through This, author Evertt True notes that when asked why he wore dresses Cobain stated Queen had done so before. Kurt suggested it was more a matter of personal taste than a feminist statement.

While Cobain mentioned Queen it is likely Cobain, an ardent student of rock history, may also have drawn inspiration from another of his idols, David Bowie. Prior to his Ziggy Stardust fame, the British pop star regularly wore dresses around the period of his Hunky Dory and The Man Who Sold The World albums in the 1970s.


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