Last night, Kid Cudi took to the stage in Studio 8H for the first of his two Saturday Night Live performances wearing pretty typical Cudi gear: a fuzzy green cardigan, a Chris Farley-memorializing T-shirt, jeans, and sparkly Nike Dunks. About what you’d expect from a musician with deep personal style and a serious jones for Cactus Plant Flea Market.
When the stage lights flashed up during his second appearance, though, they showed off something a little different: to perform his song “Sad People,” Kid Cudi was in a floor-length, spaghetti-strapped floral dress. Its sequins danced in the light.
Fans were quick to note that Cudi’s dress looked an awful lot like the floral number Kurt Cobain used to wear—and that Cudi’s performance happened to fall the same week as the 27th anniversary of Cobain’s death in 1994. The tribute was all but impossible to ignore—Cudi not so long ago sampled Cobain on one of his songs, and after his own struggles with depression and suicidal thinking, took on the cause of mental health awareness. Eagle-eyed fans also noticed that Cudi’s first outfit—the one with the green cardigan—seemed to reference another famous Cobain look, too. The guy did his homework.
While Cobain famously filched his dress from Nirvana’s publicist, Cudi’s has serious fashion provenance. On Instagram, Virgil Abloh shared that the piece was custom Off-White, “specially reserved for Mr. Rager only.” And if you picked up the April issue of GQ, you might have seen a pretty similar look: in our “Bite This Style” feature, we noted that Cobain’s legendary dress now feels awfully of the moment.
Of course, things have changed since Cobain’s dress shocked Nirvana fans in 1990. Harry Styles wore a Gucci dress on the cover of Vogue. NBA players are wearing skirts in the pregame tunnel. Gender-fluid fashion isn’t really a buzzword anymore—it’s just something many of the coolest people on the planet do when they get dressed, seemingly without thinking too much about it. Cudi’s matter-of-fact dress—paired with a wildly icy chain—followed that line of thinking.
Having paid tribute to a music legend, Cudi closed out his performance about the only way he could: by grabbing a handful of dress in each hand and giving the audience a polite curtsy. The crowd went wild.