By Laurel Pantin
Nov 02, 2018 @ 10:00 am
Photo Illustration. Photo: Courtesy.

If you were a tweenage girl in the mid-late ‘90s, the dELiA*s catalog was probably your everything. Stop me if this sounds familiar: The first one you saw was crumpled. It was well-worn, and closely studied by a friend (or maybe older cousin), but you found it carelessly tossed under a bed — this shocked you, until you realized it was six months old, and elsewhere in the room was a glorious stack of all the newer ones. You ran home and subscribed. Well, prepare to run screaming again, because 25 years after it first graced our mailboxes, the iconic catalog is being brought back to life.


When I first found my way to dELia*s, the contents of its pages — girls slightly older, slightly cooler, hanging out on inflatable chairs wearing grandpa style pants with baby tees and platform sneakers, or skateboarding in a micro-mini plaid skirt, rainbow knee socks, and a long flannel — well, they made me feel a little wild with desire. I can’t speak for everyone, but every single page of the catalog mattered to me. Every awkward pose was worth copying. Every baby tee, every smiley face choker, every pot of loose body glitter had to be owned. For me, everything down to the inexplicable capitalizations and punctuation made me feel like there was something missing from my life, and dELiA*s had it. I truly believed I had to have every single thing on every single page to become the person I was destined to be, and would beg my mom to place phone orders for me every month. (Yes, younger readers, we placed our orders over the phone. Can you believe?)


If you were one of those tween girls, just seeing the word dELiA*s now might still give you a special sort of longing feeling inside. You probably know the brand has faded into obscurity and been reborn several times now — most recently, and promisingly, in 2015 when it got an internet address and all — and YouTube! and Snapchat! Alas, just like the paper catalogs you yearned to hold onto until they were practically dust, this last reinvention didn't make it, and the old website redirects to Alloy (which you remember, too, only slightly less fondly).

Mega fans would know that in a super special corner of the internet, they can already buy dELiA*s deadstock, on the site Dolls Kill. Rainbow earrings, teeny tube tops, and actual telephones delight, for prices that feel way more accessible now than they did to me as a preteen striver. And wouldn't you know it, Dolls Kill is exactly the site bringing the brand back. "Everyone loves a comeback," the website says, in the mix-match font and all. Seeing that sent me into a nostalgia spiral. The Romeo & Juliet soundtrack played in my head, and I could almost smell the Bath & Body Works peach lotion my friends and I applied by the bucketload.

“Every ‘90s girl remembers the dELiA*s catalog hitting her mailbox,” Dolls Kill co-founder Shaudi Lynn says in the brand’s press release. “Tearing through the pages, coveting the ‘it girl’ looks. dELiA*s was an obsession, shaped a culture, and left a permanent tattoo on a generation.”

The revival — a limited edition collection of 70 pieces leaning heard on '90s nostalgia — predictably, features lots of groovy flower prints, baby tees, chokers, rainbow socks, platform Mary-Janes, and minis with the brand’s signature asterisk shaped zipper pull. To make this happen, Dolls Kill licensed the dELiA*s name, and all products will be sold on its site, with prices ranging from $18 to $88. The feel is very dELiA*s for the digital age (alas, there's no catalog to get in the mail), but everything else stays pretty true to the original. Models wearing space buns and tiny sunglasses stand pigeontoed and gawk awkwardly up at the camera. And, as if instinctively, WANT WANT WANT flashes like a massive red sign in my brain.


Would I wear this stuff now? Probably not. But do I want it? Yes. I want it for the same reason we all want things from our past, for the same reason there’s currently a teal and lavender Caboodles trunk sitting on my desk. Because those things magically suck you back to the time they featured so prominently in your life. Looking at the new dELiA*s is like hopping into a time machine, not just a collection of clothing and accessories.

Of course it is not possible to actually turn back time, to be a gawky middle schooler again, feeling alive simply because of the way a pair of pants looks on a page. But if we've found a way to harness a little bit of that joy, up here in 2018? Well, sign me up — what's the phone number for orders?