Her initial style influences could be said to be drawn in part from outfits worn by Carroll Baker in the (then controversial) 1950’s film Baby Doll. The film contained implied sexual themes and Baker’s character - a 19 year old platinum blonde, is seen wearing soft feminine dresses of pale cotton and short frilly satin nightgowns. The other key inspiration cited by Courtney was the style of Christina Amphlett, Australia’s own rebel of rock from 80s group Divinyls. Christina pushed the boundaries of what was then acceptable, wearing short school girl uniforms on stage whilst moving in provocative sexualised ways.
Some of her most interesting key looks…
Perhaps the most iconic of Courtney’s looks, were her frequently worn collection of ‘Peter Pan’ collar dresses; doll-like dresses with a prominent white collar as the feature. These dresses originated in the 1960s and in the late 80’s/ early 90’s would have still been fairly easy to find in thrift stores.
In the images below we see the influence of Carroll Baker’s wardrobe in Baby Doll: pastel cotton vintage dresses with subtle floral prints, satin mini dresses (which in the 90’s came to in fact be known as ‘Babydoll’ dresses), worn with a punk twist; Courtney adding black stilettos, harsh red lipstick or a black bra showing contrastingly above a low-cut dress.
Also tying in with the kinderwhore aesthetic was the look where she would team a cutesy mini dress with white or red knee-high schoolgirl socks, or low white frilly socks, often worn with patent Mary Jane shoes. The influence of Christina Amphltet’s provocative schoolgirl outfits worn on stage are apparent here.
Courtney adapting the slip as daywear has gone down in history, and is a look she repeatedly came back to throughout the 90s. Appropriating the silky garments originally meant for underwear or sleep wear, she transformed them into a subversive fashion statement of rebellion and sexuality.
Cardigans were a grunge staple for many an alternative youth in the early 90s and Courtney often wore hers with, and in contrast to, feminine pastel vintage dresses. Her cardigans were often oversized, worn-in looking and torn at the sleeve.
In true punk form, she was known to sometimes write on her body before gigs and going out - using lipstick or marker pens, scrawling a word across her arm bitch, slut or witch; this was her subversive way of citing clichés of the roles women have been seen to play throughout history. On one occasion she even wore an old vintage doll attached to her outfit at the waist.