From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The look, which promoted emaciated features and androgyny, was an alternative that stood in direct contradiction to the healthy and vibrant look of models such as Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Heidi Klum. A 1996 article in The Los Angeles Times charged that the fashion industry had "a nihilistic vision of beauty" that was reflective of drug addiction, and U.S. News and World Report called the movement a "cynical trend".
This waifish, emaciated, and drug-addicted look was popular in the fashion world and was the basis of the 1993 advertising campaign of Calvin Klein featuring Kate Moss. Film director and actor Vincent Gallo contributed to the development of this image through his Calvin Klein fashion shoots.
19th Century precedents can be found in the skinny beauty ideal in the fin de siècle.