In January 1994, Nirvana graced the cover of Rolling Stone in matching pinstripe suits. 28 years later, boygenius — Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus — are bringing it to a new generation.
The new cover features the indie supergroup posing as each member: Baker is drummer Dave Grohl, Bridgers is Kurt Cobain, and Dacus is bassist Krist Novoselic. The original 1994 image was shot by Mark Seliger, while this time boygenius was photographed by Ryan Pfluger.
“The reason why I said yes to this cover was because it was three queer ladies that I really think are fucking awesome,” Pfluger says in the video above. “Having them reinterpret an iconic cover that Nirvana originally had done, I thought it was really contemporary and cool to do. If it wasn’t them, I wouldn’t have been interested. They have similar mentalities of ‘fuck the system,’ and not necessarily caring about what is cool or hip — which ends up being cool and hip.”
“I hit the ground running looking for the perfect fit,” adds stylist Jared Ellner. “I love the Gucci suits for the cover. It was really important for us to have three matching menswear suits to get that exact silhouette that they had. I feel like there’s so much thought that went into all this — there’s so many little details — everybody put their heads together and made sure that there were so many moments and little hidden treasures throughout the whole thing.”
The inside images in the magazine nod to a different Nirvana shoot by Stephane Sednaoui, where the grunge icons dressed in women’s clothing on a street corner in 1993 for Mademoiselle. The concept of recreating that shoot was conceived two years ago by vintage fashion specialist and friend of boygenius Alexandra Mitchell. She even reached out to Gene Meyer, the designer of the scarves Nirvana wore, and he shipped them from his home in Morocco.
Mitchell went a step further by hiding Easter eggs in the suits for this shoot: She individually sourced pins and brooches that reference lyrics from songs by boygenius and each member’s solo work. (Close watchers of the video will spot glimpses of an “I Know the End” button from Bridgers’ Punisher, and one reading “Marlon Brando” from Dacus’ Home Video).
“The original cover was working against this idea of being buttoned-up when you’re not normally buttoned-up,” Mitchell says. “It’s almost like we had to double-negative that. ‘OK, we’re gonna be Nirvana, but actually, we’re gonna be ourselves.’”
“As a photographer and as a queer person and as a non-binary person, I find that this is the kind of work that I want to be doing,” Pfluger concludes. “It’s a cool thing to be apart of.”