Categories
Blog Filmic Fits Reclamations

The Lost Boys’ Found Fashion

Of all the iterations and reinventions of the classic vampire narrative, there’s only one near and dear to my heart—Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys. Far from the cliches of the traditional Dracula aesthetic, this film ushered in a new age of the undead, in a full embrace of culture clash that defined the 80s. From the punks, to goths, to yuppies, to the new romantics, and valley girls, the microcosm of California coast culture in the 1980s America was the ultimate crucible to set this hyper-styled warped Peter Pan. One of the elements I love most about this movie and the meticulous curated environment it’s surrounded by is the fashion that distinctly marked this movie away from the cloaks and cravats of the Transylvanian origin story to reframe the machismo bad boy. Just as the universe of Santa Monica was stratified among social groups, Schumacher’s and costume designer, Susan Becker’s, influence on the costuming mimes this reality among the film’s varying cliques in the most iconic display of 80s garb to make any other vampire eat their heart out.

Perhaps the most underappreciated group out of all of this are the Frog Brothers, played by Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander. They fully embody the 80s action antihero in full Sylvester Stalone Rambo iconography. From the muscle tees to the dogtags and red bandana adorning Feldman’s forehead, their hypermasculinized aesthetic reeks of toxic machismo and identity conflict. One of the best clothing bits we get from the brothers is a shirt with almost an Araki flair. It reads, “Why waltz when you can rock & roll” with a machine gun partly obscuring the text. Ignoring the rhetoric of a shirt like that, it’s easy just to see the counterculture rebel hero the boys try to emulate in their style. In the iconic fight scene, both brothers gear up in an almost comical revolutionist uniform of berets, airborne shirts, and ill-fitting ERDL camouflage as the true expression of the kind of man that takes no prisoners and kicks ass according to his own rules despite the boys being about 14 in the film. The obvious parallel to draw from their military depot couture is the vicarious reappraisal of Vietnam heroes as a reactionary measure against changing gender expressionality in the 80s. 

Their embrace of ruggedness in respect to the lone wolf protagonist from the comics they read fully sets them apart from everyone else in the film, and most distinctly from Sam who represents the antithesis of their fashion’s ideology. Sam looks like he just stepped off a WHAM music video set with his visually assaulting devotion to the ‘mall fashion victim’ aesthetic of incoherent patterns clashing on top of each other. He’s a fish out of water in this new environment and is recognized in his own way for standing out. There’s definitely a queer reading to Sam who literally had a ‘Born to Shop’ t-shirt and semi-nude photos of men adorning his room, but we’ll save that for another time. I’d also go into more detail about a particular iconic outfit he wears in the film, too, but honestly, everything he wears is just some variation of a primary color abstract pattern button down which you can pick up at your local thrift store. Sorry, Sam 🙁

And then there are the vampires–the men that shaped my taste in boys and incidentally have left me disappointed ever since. First things first: those mullets are luxurious and voluminous which is a must when you need your hair to flow through the wind on your motorbikes as you terror your community. Kiefer Sutherland’s in particular stands out because of its peroxide platinum blondness almost as a signifier of the artificiality of the western coast atmosphere. More than what Sutherland’s character wears, it’s how he wears it. His outfit specifically is rather understated, opting for the all black, but nevertheless he has a distinct coolness in his long leather overcoat, leather pants, leather boots, AND leather gloves…I’m sensing a pattern here and I’m loving it. The contrast between his ultra white hair and his all black attire is such a bold contrast, and he has a definitive English Travelever look about him that’s ultra slick with a layer of grime, making his trashiness ultimately sexy.

The other vampires opt-in for more distinctive looks that speak more than the characters actually do.  Paul, Dwayne, and Marko definitely fit more into the West Coast Sunset Strip delinquents vibe, opting for the fitted ripped jeans, big hair, and jackets adorned with patches, studs, and safety pins. The tops underneath are something to behold in their own way; mesh tanks and crop tops under leather (my heart just can’t take it!). Just like Nic Cage in Wild At Heart, their jackets are a symbol of their individuality, and their belief in personal freedom–possibly; we honestly don’t know anything about these guys other than they’re hot and mean. Marko’s jacket in particular is alluring just because he himself has a Baroque style angelic face, and his jacket uses so many rich warm tones with all the patches and tapestry squares that look almost like an Italian church mural. Perhaps the best element of the vampires and their 80s makeover is the detailing of their blood. The special effects makeup artist totally transformed not only their faces but he specifically added glitter to the fake blood, heightening the glam element of these vanity vamps. This evokes a very new generation of expectations for the undead as they adapt to the world around them more than being isolated from change.


The Lost Boys presents the sexiest iteration of vampires of all time. Before the Cullens, before Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, there was Kiefer Sutherland with a cigarette behind his ear and my heart in his hands.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – My Own Private Idaho

Submitted by Kamryn Cannon

On day 56 of self-isolation, I decided it was an opportune time to check off a few films on my watchlist. At this point I had not seen another human being in weeks and wanted to watch something that matched my lonesome mood. What better way to complement my sense of yearning than with Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho? This screenplay based on a Henriad tetralogy is the kind of avant-garde film that finds itself in the hall of fame of the New Queer Cinema movement. Van Sant tells the story of a young street hustler named Mike (portrayed by king River Phoenix) who embarks on a journey to find his mother, while overcoming obstacles like narcolepsy, poverty, and unrequited love. Through captivating landscapes and a mesmerizing, steel guitar-filled score, we follow Mike on a globe-trotting mission to uncover insights from his past in an attempt to make sense of his identity. Along with Van Sant’s directorial and writing abilities, I was equally impressed by the costume choices of one Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, whose other works include To Die For (1995), Good Will Hunting (1997), and my personal favorite — Aeon Flux (2005). With the new rise of the soft boi and e-boy aesthetics, we would be remiss if we didn’t appreciate the inspiration by which a lot of these trends stem from. Hints of 90s fashion always seem to find themselves in recent fashion cycles, and My Own Private Idaho is a classic example of this era.

In the opening scene we find a pensive Mike trying to comprehend his surroundings after experiencing yet another narcoleptic attack. As seen throughout the rest of the film, these characters have an affinity for sherpa-lined corduroy jackets. Along with the moss-colored coat, Mike dons a vertical-striped blue shirt with a name-tag that says “Bob” over two t-shirts on opposite ends of the gray spectrum. Pasztor makes use of layering akin to recent F/W lines by Gucci–eclectic, disjointed, and slightly oversized. Aside from the price, a large difference between her and Alessandro Michele’s stylings is that Mike and his gang of friends layer their clothes not only as a way to express themselves but to provide protection from the chilling  winds of the Portland streets they sleep on.

Mike and his best friend Scott (played by a mid-20s Keanu Reeves) are brought up in very different social classes. Scott is the mayor’s son and Mike lives on the streets. Another contrast in their characterization is the way Pasztor designed their fashion expression. Scott dresses himself as a bad boy motorcyclist who likes all black attire and sometimes abstains from the incessant layering by not wearing a shirt at all. On the other hand, Mike regularly wears attention-grabbing fiery ensembles that juxtapose his somber attitude. In most of the movie he is shown in his signature scarlet jacket with a variety of layered shirts beneath. From the top down his polychromatic costume becomes progressively darker, starting with a light yellow dress shirt and ending with black leather boots. Although Mike doesn’t have much abundance in his life, he makes the most of his clothing options.

The penultimate scene hearkens to the theme of class struggles and parallel worlds. Here, two nobles die. One the king of the poor and the other the king of wealthy. Up above the powerful mourn one of their leaders, while a few hundred yards away the powerless celebrate the life of their mentor. While giving a mundane sermon, a priest wears a black suit, his neck wrapped in a regal purple stole. Scott returns to claim the throne he has inherited and sports another sleek black outfit, but this time he ditches the jackets and ripped jeans for an upscale suit and sumptuous pea coat. All flamboyance is lost as he transitions into his new life. Meanwhile, his old crowd of friends are in their usual rags. They mix and match classic autumn colors like burgundy and honey with juniper and carob. All in all, I like to think that the legacy of costumers like Pasztor continue to inspire the fashion choices of modern-day alt kids across the world.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

The Importance of Costuming in No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men is my favorite film from the Coen brothers for several reasons. It is probably the best adaptation of a book I have ever seen. It stays remarkably true to Cormac McCarthy’s original novel, and when the Coen brothers stray from the original text, it is always an improvement, not a detraction. Despite having seen it several times, No Country for Old Men keeps me at rapt attention with a rich atmosphere of pure dread, heightened by the film’s great sound design and near complete lack of a score. The action scenes are some of the most intense ones ever put to film, in my opinion. Anton Chigurh, portrayed by Javier Bardem, remains one of the most iconic antagonists ever put to film. The Coen brothers apply so much polish in this production, that nearly every detail seems deliberate and purposeful. One of the most important details in No Country for Old Men, one that I appreciate especially, is the purposeful costume design of its characters. The film’s costuming, as I will explain, reflects not only the backgrounds of its characters, but the greater themes of the story as well.

            The film’s false protagonist, Llewelyn Moss, played by Josh Brolin, is perfectly costumed as a southwestern everyman. The first time the audience sees him, he sports a pair of dark wash Levis, a tan check pattern western shirt, Larry Mahan cowboy boots, and a straw stetson hat. He blends into the rocks of the volcanic ridge he is hunting antelope from, his fashion is that perfect for life in the desert. Throughout the film he cycles through a series of western shirts, and during his nighttime visit to the site of the desert gun battle, Llewelyn dons a Carhartt chore coat. His costume design is directly in line with the audience’s expectations for the average Texan blue collar worker, and the same goes for Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones, who aligns with our expectations for a Texan lawman. He too wears a western shirt, adorned with a sheriff’s star and Terrell County sheriff patches, alongside a pair of brown trousers and boots, and finally topped off with a white straw Stetson. Like most police officers, he accessorizes with a leather gun belt. Both Llewelyn Moss and Sheriff Bell are clearly at home in the west. Their outfits incorporate a lot of the natural colors of the desert landscape they call home, and foreshadow their clash with the very dark and unnaturally costumed hitman, Anton Chigurh.

During the film’s opening monologue, the audience sees several shots of beautiful Texas vistas at sunrise. This establishes the film’s color palette of earth tones, beiges and browns, with some green in the desert scrub and vegetation. We are then introduced to Anton Chigurh, who is immediately at odds with both the desert landscape and its inhabitants. His dark clothing nearly renders him a silhouette, contrasting with the tan uniform and white hat of the deputy escorting him into his squad car. The film takes place in the summertime, yet Chigurh is always clad in an extremely dark navy trucker jacket. He wears this alongside a pair of navy pants and a dark brown shirt. Unlike nearly every other male character in the film, Chigurh wears no hat. Chigurh’s outfit eschews the western details of the film’s protagonists in favor of strong, straight lines. His ensemble establishes him as alien to the earth tone world of Llewelyn Moss and Sheriff Bell, and hints at his strange, violent nature before he commits a single crime on screen. Even his boots differentiate him from the other characters. He wears dark alligator skin boots (ostrich skin in the novel), a rather flamboyant choice, but one that further separates him from the other characters’ traditional style. The boots line up well with his unusual haircut, an odd mop of hair that places him more in line with the discoes of the seventies than the Chihuahuan desert.

His entire look is confusing, and aligns with the protagonists’ confusion at his motives and rationale. Elements of the outfit like the unseasonable denim jacket hint at Chigurh’s almost inhuman toughness, he can simply ignore the heat which the natives alter their clothing to adapt to. In fact, whereas Moss and Bell’s outfits seem to reflect the pale Texas sunlight, Chigurh’s dark ensemble is designed to absorb that light. The Coens effectively costumed Anton to be the antithesis of the world Llewelyn Moss and Sheriff Bell believe they live in, he is a visual representation of the titular country.

Then, there is the middleman of the cast: Carson Wells, played by Woody Harrelson. Like Anton Chigurh, his outfit avoids earth tones. His grey suit stands out fairly well in the desert, and this hints at him being a fellow hitman to Chigurh. Unlike Chigurh, however, he has adopted elements of western style. Wells’s suit bears pointed western yokes, he wears a hat (felt, in contrast with the straw hats of the protagonists), and his shirts snap up, like Llewelyn’s. Wells’s costume is a middle ground between the shadowy and strange attire of Chigurh, and the familiar everyman earth tones Moss sports. His role in the film is thus, that of a junction between Anton Chigurh and Llewelyn Moss.

To say No Country for Old Men has been influential upon my personal style would be a massive understatement. I fell in love with western clothing because of this film. I find myself poring over the shirt racks in thrift stores desperately seeking a snapshirt resembling the ones Moss sports, visiting western stores in search of a Stetson like his, and sporting Levis just as he did. But it is impossible to perfectly replicate his outfit, as every aspect was carefully crafted by the film’s crew to reflect Moss’s personality and the ideas he symbolized (I also can’t grow facial hair, which means I will never sport Moss’s amazing moustache). In studying the costuming of No Country for Old Men, it is clear that every character’s costume is carefully tailored to suit both their personal character and to reflect the themes of the film. No Country for Old Men is essentially a story of stubborn people being unable to understand the nature of the unstoppable evil lurking in their world. The western, antiquated earth tones of stubborn Texans meeting the unnatural and alien navy of Chigurh’s denim jacket and his bizarre disco haircut. Effectively, the Coen brothers used characters’ costumes to highlight this contrast between good and evil in a way that blends seamlessly with the time and place the film occurs in.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – Jesus Christ Superstar

For a countless number of years, I found every excuse I could when my mom would try to suggest Jesus Christ superstar for movie nights. Despite her valiant efforts, my reluctance to watch a “holy-art-thou movie” always came out on top. It was only up until very recently that i came to realize how wrong and foolish I was to deprive myself of this theatrical, groove-filled masterpiece for so long. Although the film is framed around the universally known Christian story of how Jesus came to be murdered by his government, it has something for everyone and surpasses every expectation that one might have. It is unconventional in every aspect (for starters, we get to see the drama unfold through the fresh perspective of the deeply misunderstood apostle, Judas), but above all else, the 70s-saturated fits of this sultry rock opera take home the grand prize of most amazingly eccentric. 

As you might expect, Jesus is classically depicted in a white robe, paired with a nice rope belt to bring home the image of humility and purity. Judas, on the other hand, sports my favorite look of the film, giving us the bellybutton-reaching deep V of our dreams. He clearly stands out amongst the rest of the apostles with the most embellished and eye catching ensemble of the group, clueing the viewer in on who to keep tabs on. He’s a vision of indulgence, which is exactly what we’re meant to think of his character as well, being that he is soon to sell his dearest friend out for money. The neutral earth tones of his fellow apostles, although also fitted out, pale in comparison to this bold, monochromatic statement piece.

This film impressively contains perhaps the most midriff I’ve ever seen in any movie, all in this one explosive dance sequence. In a world where high-waisted pants are the current trend, I was shocked to be reminded just how long a torso could be. If it weren’t for the setting, you might also almost forget that this is a story taking place 1,987 years ago. It’s camp! It’s postmodern! It’s a delight! The color palette is true to both the jewel toned colors of biblical times as well as the earth tones of the 70s. The visual spectacle doesn’t even stop there. Being that a majority of the outfits worn by the cast are warm toned or muted, they pop out gorgeously against the saturated blue sky, all captured in the dreamy quality of 35mm technicolor film.

It’s immediately clear who the main villains are in this story– just find the group of angry men wearing all black and proudly sporting bare chest. Hierarchy is then obviously established by whose hat is most inflated. Their insecurities of losing authority to Jesus are just as ridiculous and pompous as their attire. The menacing capes and bejeweled breastplates let us know that they are not a force to be reckoned with. All that’s missing is the heavily applied black eyeliner. 

The next set of stylish villains are the Roman government cogs. Although their role of shuffling Jesus around from judge to judge seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things, their reverse Hulk-colored uniforms make a lasting impression. This look could inspire many generations to come, all the way from the timeless combat boots to the Julius Cesar graphic tank.

And of course, the final boss of biblical villains: King Herod, exhibiting flamboyance in its most extravagant form with his complimenting posse. This scene is where the film peaks in its visual decadence. The bright colors and beach glam outfits give us a sense of summer, while the body language and care-free attitude invites all in to their lackadaisical dreamscape. Herod and his courtesans seem to exist on an entirely different plane in comparison to the subdued rags of all the other characters. Where Jesus and his followers are giving us hand-dyed, natural aesthetics, this crew is putting us in a chemically soaked polyester sweat. 

Lastly, what’s a 70s musical without a disco fever dream? Judas is donning the same ambitious deep V as before, but this time with fringe and matching backup dancers. In his posthumous appearance Judas is wearing white, similarly to what we might expect of an angel in the afterlife, but replace wings with floor length arm fringe and giant bell sleeves. Despite this ethereal look, its flashy nature still reminds us of the contrast between how Judas ended up here vs how Jesus did. Nonetheless, the wigs, diamonds, and fur are an iconic sight to behold, and truly mark the climax of this fully fitted rollercoaster of a film.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – Fallen Angels

Upon the first viewing of Wong Kar-Wai’s spiritual successor to Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995) leaves viewers with an array of messy emotions and takeaways.  Wong picks up the grimy, neon-lit, and shadow soaked universe he dropped off in the leading section of Chungking, and follows five more characters: A Killer, his business partner, a blonde, a nonverbal eccentric, and a depressed woman looking for the sex worker that stole her ex. Divided by two narratives having very little to do with each other-save for a handful of casual encounters-the audience is taken on a motorcycle ride set at double speed through several nights of these characters’ lives. And while Wong is hyper focused on the loneliness and desire for connection these characters possess, costume designer William Chang outfits them in pieces that could fill any streetwear inspo lookbook and still personalizes their psyches.

She is the blueprint!

“no e-girl will ever be as 90s as this movie”

1990s fashion has been in vogue for the greater part of the last decade, for better or worse. Whether the reference point is Kids, Clueless, or Fallen Angels (all coincidentally released in 1995), internet kids and big-name house designers alike have more than enough room to pay homage to this era or blatantly cherry-pick the best, and worst, trends of the era. The fits in Fallen Angels reflect two different sides of fashion school archetypes: the hypebeasts and the e-girls, with both factions finding their roots in established trends and designers. Leon Lai’s Killer is the blueprint for the former group.  The kit never wavers: Black pinstripe jacket, a half buttoned black oxford with a white mesh tank underneath, baggy black linen pants, and silver chain link necklace only missing a rollercoaster clasp from the now iconic (or infamous) Alyx 1017 necklace. The entire package recalls something Rei Kawakubo or Rick Owens would feature on a runway. Baggy black business attire dressed down oozes cool when paired with the act of killing (but I’ll touch on this a bit later).

And then there is Michelle Reis’ Agent with too many looks to handle. Whether she rocks a skin-tight leopard top just waiting to be captured by a Mac Photo Booth Selfie or a silk dress on an empty subway commute, she always finds a way to put everyone else in frame to shame. Yet her most iconic fit comes within the first five minutes. She is on the way to a routine cleaning of the Killer’s filthy Hong Kong flat in an all-black leather dress, choker around her neck, fishnet leggings, black stiletto heels and a black purse with a metal strap that evokes a Gucci Dionysus handbag. The comical nature of dressing up to housekeep empowers those who have decried function over form and all viewers alike that there’s no occasion too mundane to look your absolute best.

Emotional Establishment

From the opening shot, Chang and Wong waste no time establishing each character’s personal style. Christopher Doyle’s opening close-up bars us from seeing the rest of her outfit until the next scene, so what are Wong and Chang trying to present? We know nothing of the Agent’s character at this point except what we are shown, and the accessories embody the statement. Bangs over her eyes, cigarette nuzzled between her fingers, and a big ol’ glass ring resembling a rose lies on her index finger.  It’d feel futile to explain what a rose symbolizes – as this is obvious- but the choice to place a glass rose on the Agent’s finger shows us what we need to know. From jump, we see through the lie she tells the audience and herself, “I’m the practical kind/ I know how to make myself happy”. We know she wants to feel more than a business relationship with the Killer; her bangs curtain her eyes to inhibit the Killer from seeing what is inside. Unlike the killer, the audience can see through this, just as we see though glass.

Mob Mentality

Wong Kar-Wai is the master of forming an aesthetic through stylistic choices, whether it is a red-green filter over every shot or having Frankie Chan sample a Massive Attack track for a recurring score motif. This eye for glamour is ever present in the ensemble of pieces that comprise the Killer’s look. The black pinstripe jacket harkens back to the Italian-American mobsters of the 1930’s. The Killer is, well, a killer after all. The choice does not feel too on the nose, however; the pinstripes are subtle and only noticeable when Karen Mok’s Blondie shines a light through the jacket to dry it. In fact, the only time the Killer is not portrayed as the cliché man in black is this moment. The Killer borrows a blue tee and jeans from Blondie, completely stripping away any mysticism the character retains. By just going home with Blondie, he is acting on his own volition (something he admits happens seldomly). Recalling an earlier scene in the film, the Killer admits that he has a desire to participate in commonplace occasions (like attending a wedding). It is no coincidence that the one time the Killer does act on a personal desire, he has briefly cast away this violent lifestyle.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts (1985) as a momentous induction into the lesbian film canon is well-deserved on all fronts; from being one of the earliest positive depictions of women loving women, a killer soundtrack, and romanticization of one the worst places in America, this movie is the perfect piece of propaganda for U-Haul lesbians. But perhaps the most culturally relevant aspects of the film is the incredible costuming that makes Cay Rivers deserving of the title of a prolific fashion icon for the queer women community. At the perfect intersection of ‘Futch’ sensibilities, Cay’s look makes her the ultimate fantasy of an androgynous cowgirl, unrestricted by traditionally feminine clothing worn with a purpose to make the way she carries herself within them an unruly body in contrast to the drab and unflattering beiges of divorcees and the excessiveness of casino couture.

A staple in every gay girl’s closet should be an assortment of camp collar button-down tops paired with denim cutoff shorts that are just a little too short. From the moment, Cay enters the film, this look exemplifies her entire wardrobe; blue as her signature with a popped collar and ends tied around her waist should have been foreshadowing enough to the audience that she’s a top. Even within the confines of a hyper-sexualized space of a casino, she exudes butch Americana with embroidered dollar signs on the collar of her perfectly ill-fitted men’s shirt. There’s just something so alluring about a woman who maintains a uniform of such simplicity to the point that it’s iconically recognized and emulated within a real demographic of women.

Western wear on its own has never gotten full attention it deserves, and its stylization within the film acts as an approximate love letter to the aesthetic. The outfits are a constant borage of snaps and pointed pocket flaps to centrally locate the heart of the film as a western space that only uses the specificity of Reno to provide intrigue and nuance into the familiar utility-based fashion. Perhaps the best moment in the film for outfit appraisal is at Silver’s engagement party that perfectly highlights the glamor of 1950s Reno with the emblematic style of formal Western wear. If your engagement party isn’t full of fringed, bedazzled, silk jumpsuits complete with embroidery and big hair to match, what’s the point of having a party all? Even the men in silk ascots and 10-gallon hats show in their best digs in perhaps the gayest celebration to hit the biggest little city in the world.

Almost in a comically dichotomized fashion, lesbian films have relied heavily on color-coding their protagonists into diametrically opposed archetypes—every queer and lesbian woman inevitably presents a uniform, dawning a primarily red or blue ensemble that’s in contrast to the woman they’re impossibly in love with. Despite its current status as a visual trope to easily indicate to audiences the forbidden romance as evidenced in Portrait of a Lady on Fire or Blue is the Warmest Color, its roots in Desert Hearts is fairly revolutionary and skillfully crafted into the subtleties of character progression within the slow-burn of romance.

Cay acts as the ‘blue’ queer woman in this iteration, and the color takes on symbolism with its attachment to the water and freedom that it provides. Additionally, the blue indicates an obvious marker of masculinity as Cay refuses to be confined to traditional expressions of femininity. Vivian learns her ‘gay color’ of red as abandons the beige of lounging divorcees to build her attraction to Cay. Red is the intensity and deeply dyed in clothes she buys to establish her freedom; it’s the obvious foil to slow toiling of the waters and Cay’s love. It’s within this iconic engagement party and subsequent scenes where Cay’s iconic blue ensemble take on new meaning when she dawns a powder blue silk fringed jumpsuit paired with a red leather belt and red cowboy boot; this is the gesture to Vivian—who ‘s fitted out in her own embellished red Western shirt—that Cay’s attachment to her has reached a tipping point and feels that they’re slowly becoming one and the same. The most tender expression of affection you could show someone is to betray your style brand and wear accessories just to catch your crush’s eye. There’s genuinely no way to resist such a passionate plea. In the end, the film goes full circle where Cay dresses in red as she says her final goodbye like a physical manifestation of a light being strong around her heart and glowing red for everyone to see.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – Wild At Heart

A lot can be said about David Lynch’s unruly, passion driven Wild at Heart , but one thing I couldn’t let go unspoken in regard to this film is the catalog of looks that were served throughout. While my mind scrambles to find the relation between runaway lovers being unknowingly chased by hitmen and The Wizard of Oz, my eyes feast on a myriad of tight leather ensembles and flamboyant outerwear. The south is HOT, it only makes sense that the outfits should follow suit. 

Lula and Sailor, despite being destined for absolute chaos and disaster, are completely dedicated to one another. They are true to themselves and each other above all else. What I love about them is not only their unapologetic relationship, but also their equally unapologetic sense of style. This sentiment is best put by Sailor in his iconic line, “this is a snakeskin jacket. And for me it’s a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom.” Words that deserve to be embroidered on a pillow. I too would find it hard to be anything but confident and reckless when donning a snakeskin jacket with every outfit– something I think we should all aspire to. It’s a fail-proof and timeless formula: basic top (T-shirt/ button up) + black jeans & belt + statement jacket = looking like a million bucks. Lula is also no stranger to making a statement. For a night out, she is sporting a black leather bralette, black lace capri-leggings over pink underwear, black cowboy boots, and her staple red lip. As a couple, they never cease to give the viewer something to gawk at. It’s evident that they’ve never had to have the “what are you gonna wear?” conversation in preparation for an event. This is self expression at its purest!


It only gets hotter from here. Isabella Rossellini as Perdita Durango displays my favorite looks of this film. From head to toe there is so much to indulge in. The juxtaposed blonde wig + peeking brunette hairline look is something I did not know that I needed. It sounds like a mess in theory, but in practice it is oddly transcendent, like oregano on sandwiches. Or it may just be that Isabella Rossellini is hot and can pull anything off, but I’d like to believe that it’s both. The skin-tight leather set accompanied by the bright pink lip and red shoe is a look that almost seems to embody the entirety of southern heat. This scene left me secondhand sweating. 

Another thing that I really eat up in Wild at Heart is the attention and care that went into the accessory choices. The mismatched circle and sword earrings are powerful enough on their own, but the way that they were utilized– along with the blonde wig and thick brows– to identify Perdita and Juana (Grace Zabriskie) as working for the same forces was a delicious detail. At the same time, they both encapsulated the essence of their own characters perfectly by style of dress, with Juana’s disheveled presence being captured through her unconventional shoe pairing and sashed suede dress. Also, obviously not the main attraction here but we love to see a turtleneck and blazer combo.

Last but not least, a note on Bobby Peru, perhaps one of Lynch’s sleaziest characters to date. Accomplice to Perdita, it’s only fair that he also have a showstopping appearance. There is not an inch of wasted space here. From the slicked back hair to the prepubescent mustache, disturbingly small teeth, and chain smoking, it is immediately clear that Bobby Peru is going to be up to some antics. The color palette may be neutral monochromatic, but once again, accessories do all the heavy lifting. His leather fringe jacket serves a similar unspoken purpose as Sailor’s snakeskin jacket, bringing a true touch of rowdy Texas personality to Bobby’s look, along with the classic bolo tie. I may or may not have howled upon first seeing Willem Dafoe walk into frame sporting this ensemble… It’s menacing and well-constructed all the same to give a sense of misplaced confidence. The body language here says it all! All in all, the 90s were not ready for this masterclass in fashion and self expression.

Categories
Blog Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – Totally Fucked Up

Gregg Araki’s 1993 Totally Fucked Up is a one-of-a-kind artifact. Essentially John Hughes for the misfit crowd, Araki shines a light away from the jocks and library-bound nebbish types onto the burnouts, producing a portrait of adolescent ennui fueled by 120 Minutes and college radio. One of the foremost voices of the New Queer Cinema movement, Araki rises above the aesthetic transgressions of early adulthood, thoughtfully interrogating the spectral threat of HIV/AIDS in the queer community and its paralyzing effect. With a framing device of videotaped interviews lifted in both tone and style from Penelope Spheeris’ The Decline of Western Civilization and a chapter/intertitle structure borrowed from Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie, the film acts as a showcase for Araki’s early potential as a stylist. But beyond these film school bona fides and ability to tackle the big questions, my pitch is this: the film is the rare teen romp that gets the burnouts right. There are no broken softies like Judd Nelson’s Bender nor is there an eccentric goofball similar to Jon Cryer’s Ducky. These kids are moody bummers with an outsized sense of importance, but they look good as hell in the process. With  “Katy’s Song” needledrops to pretty boys using Morrissey lyrics as come-ons. There are shots lifted straight from Jesus and & Mary Chain videos (a pretty extended riff on the “You Trip Me Up” video being the best), fevered discussions on the merits of the Cocteau Twins, and plenty of brooding eroticism. Quite frankly, it’s the ideal adolescence. More importantly, the fits are of the highest order, interpreting the fashions of west coast hardcore kids with an anglophile goth bent. 

Fit 1: Outerwear Masterclass

From moment one, strong showing. The real statements here come in outerwear, from the classic double rider on Andy (far left), Steven’s tasteful mac coat, and Deric’s oversized blazer (far right). The strongest of the three has to be the mac, showcasing a tasteful alternative to the stigmatized trench, which can make you out to be LARPing in your father’s close or drift into Klebold-core if you’re not careful. In terms of macs, I’m partial to A.P.C.’s offerings or if your pockets are deep, Burberry is always the gold standard. 

Fit 2: Use Protection (eye protection)

Of course in the heat of the summer, providing counseling on outerwear can feel a bit useless, I do understand. But Fucked has so much more to offer. Here we find ourself with advanced maneuvers in eyewear aplenty. Andy and Tommy’s protective gear for sunbathing gives two treasures, an elongated oval on Tommy immediately dating the film to its era and a daring circular frame that could pass in any epoch. In terms of circular frames, I’m quite partial to the Persol 3901, although they only seem to get more expensive as the years pass. In terms of Tommy’s silhouette, your mileage can vary from this slightly more angular take from Grey Ant or if you want to get real weird with it, take Loewe’s Ibiza sunglasses, taking the skeleton and putting a massive frame around it until it reaches the point of self-parody. In terms of Andy’s more understated metallic-framed shades later on in the film, the tried and true American Optical can get you mostly where you need to go. 

Fit 3: FBI – Full Blooded Italian

Undershirts aren’t cool. This is something we all have to accept, you look like a child, and I only ever think about Tim & Eric sketches when I see an adult sporting one. But you do have an enlightened option – the guinea tank. The superior undershirt, the guinea tank is a cornerstone of sleaze, a perfect warm weather option if you want to rock a camp collar completely unbuttoned, or you can just rock out undershirt only. Just a word of caution, make sure your pant silhouette matches. With wide pants in vogue, stick to a simple straight cut, or make the leap to slim denim if you are weak in spirit. No need to even give you a link, just walk into your local big box store and pick up a Hanes 3 pack.

Fit 4: We Live In a Society

We’ve reached peak graphic t-shirt awhile ago. Luxury brands can print out movie stills and sell them for $400 a pop, and everyone signed to a skate team can screenprint Princess Diana riffs for $35 a pop. It’s become completely ubiquitous, and yet the power of a good graphic still captivates me. What separates the good from the bad? Well, just like pornography, there is no definite parameter, but you know it when you see it. Here, we find ourselves in the presence of such a graphic. Tasteful, elusive, referencing something just out of reach in your mind, and just edgy enough to be labelled transgressive. There are reprints of the shirt that are easy to find, but they’re usually on Gildan blanks and won’t have the perfect fit and high neck seen here (I say this as a Gildan evangelist). Vintage prints seem to be pretty hard to come by, but never lose hope.

Fit 5: Make Hedi Proud

The perfect double rider has always been an aspirational item, spending hours of my teenage years yearning, looking through inspo albums during the reign of Hedi’s SLP. It was everything I wanted, a jacket that signaled danger, you smoked unfiltered, and that you probably owned a film camera, all things yet to be played out in 2015. Here, we find ourselves with the platonic ideal. A beat-up, worn-in perfecto jacket sported by James Duval’s Andy. I find certain details to be a bit much, the hanging belt and epaulets reeking too much of functionality LARP unless you actually ride motorcycles. The gold standard for perfecto jackets is the Schott original, the very same one Brando wore in The Wild One. If you’re a bit pickier, you can go with TOJ successor Falcon Garments that allows for customization and MTM options, but the price is a tad higher. Of course there’s the vaunted designer option, with Hedi still on his quest to craft the perfect biker jacket, but at $4500 you’d be a dipshit to purchase instead of trying to get steals on his SLP output secondhand. 

Totally Fucked Up is available to stream on the Criterion Channel.

Categories
Filmic Fits

Filmic Fits – California Split

Filmic fits is a weekly column in which a film is just not on the content of its character, but what truly matters: the content of its clothing. 

California Split is many things. The tale of a relatively straight-laced magazine editor (portrayed as a passable cypher by George Segal) joining forces with a veteran gambler (Elliott Gould at the peak of his powers, running on the fumes of his stoned Phillip Marlowe in the previous year’s The Long Goodbye), finding both friendship and fuel for the fire of degenerate gambling within the other. In terms of merit, despite some questionable trans representation and being a pretty low-key affair, there’s a fair amount to be found. Split pushes the boundaries of Altman’s overlapping dialogue present in Nashville and 3 Women, makes a compelling case for Elliott Gould as the hottest of the New Hollywood rogues, is maybe the greatest film ever made about gambling (Uncut Gems may have it beat at this point), and an all-time entry within the subgenre of hangout films. But above all else, California Split is fitted. A study in the prep/sleaze dialectic, the eventual synthesis is a sight to behold. 

George Segal’s Bill Denny taking ivy style and making it far less stuffy, even a little bit playful.

From the first moment, you’re in for a treat. Segal’s Bill Denny puts on a masterclass in the subtleties of metropolitan prep, a prescient vision of Frank Muytjens’s better days at J. Crew would come to be. A heavy chamois overshirt that in less experienced hands might end up as a statement piece instead plays support, complimenting a chunky cream cable knit turtleneck, and finished off with voluminous brown cords. Here texture is all the game, letting neutral tones do the work and the contrast of fabrics making it all pop. (side note: However, you wouldn’t fucking know much texture, with Columbia letting this film languish in licensing hell, leaving VHS quality rips to be the best available option), but trust in this: cord and a chunky knit can transcend even the lowest of fidelities.

Elliott Gould’s Charlie Waters shows off the infinite possibilities provided by the perfect undershirt.

Gould’s Charlie Waters showcases the garment to end all garments: the fitted white t-shirt. Here, fit reigns king, giving a blossoming dadbod the appearance of virility and strength, understanding the role of clothing as emphasis of your most flattering assets, and camouflage for insecurity. While this isn’t any sort of revelation or advanced maneuver, it reminds you of the first rule of dressing yourself: fit is everything.

The Sleazecore blueprint.

A sleazecore masterclass, from the lapels to the highly visible undershirt, everything about this fit oozes disrespect to mores of formality and an embrace of casual comfort. A relic of its tine, Gould’s blazer is all 70s with oversized notch lapels and boxy cut. Pairing that with a patterned camp collar (long sleeve at that!) is one thing, but going for an advanced maneuver with his collar spilling over and covering the lapel is what takes this over the top. Emulate with both caution and confidence, as belief in yourself can be the deciding factor between coming off as a charming lowlife or Cosmo Kramer. A testimony to the idea one must wear the garment before you let the garment wear you, sleaze is all about a perverse embrace of personal style over stuffy convention.

The dialectic in its full form, sartorial tradition and modernity fighting for supremacy before our very eyes.
Detail on Segal’s uni-stripe OCBD

Much the same from Gould here, now just confirming an aptitude for choosing the right print and another showcase for the visible undershirt as conscious decision rather than faux pas. Segal puts on a prep showcase once again, playing with brown tones and an immaculate university stripe OCBD, throwing a playful twist on what could’ve been an otherwise self-serious ensemble.