Refinery29: Our Obsession With The 90s Butterfly Has A Deeper Meaning

REFINERY29: Our Obsession With The 90s Butterfly Has A Deeper Meaning

There’s something bewitchingly nostalgic about butterflies. They evoke the sounds of Mariah Carey’s iconic 1997 album while simultaneously conjuring up images of Salma Hayek walking the red carpet adorned with the delicately avian creature. When Billy Porter channeled a super-charged version of Hayek’s aesthetic at the 2020 Critics Choice Awards, his ensemble was celebrated as an ode to the trans community. Butterflies tell the story of metamorphosis; a nod to former versions of ourselves and a sign of how we've grown. This, according to South Asian-American designer Sheena Sood, is exactly why we’ve been seeing it everywhere lately.

“Perhaps we all come to love butterflies, a symbol of transformation, during adolescence, and then later the motif becomes a reminder of that uniquely beautiful and transformative time in our lives,” she says, remembering the flurry of faux butterflies she slept beneath as a child (she had wallpapered the border of her bedroom with them) and the giant one she sported with enthusiasm on her torso as a teen (her favorite shirt that was purchased, of course, at Delia's — the ultimate retail mecca of '90s style). “I was always told that if a butterfly comes near you or sits on you, it’s a sign of good luck and a blessing. So I associate them as being a breath of fresh energy, a good omen, a sign that I’m on the right track, and even a reminder of what’s important to me.”


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