Whether you’ve gone back to fashion school with me or not, you likely know that finding those black boots from 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan is a tough task. Not now! Well, at least not if you are a size 6. You can buy them here!
I told you I was sick and stuck looking at a bunch of magazines… If anyone thought that looking at the marked pages later would temper my responses, they were wrong! I am trying to move past the rants (and the 1980s) as quickly as possible, but here’s an upsetting thing from November’s Marie Claire that I could not ignore:
Rebecca Minkoff’s leather bracelets. Inspired by the strap on her handbags. Biker meets Barneys.
Is Rebecca Minkoff a big fat liar? A picture’s worth a thousand words — so here’s a picture of two of my own leather bracelets that I still saved from my days and nights in the 80’s:
I’m not going to say that these leather bracelets are a pure invention of the 80’s; they owe inspiration to the 60’s — and heaven knows who and where before that. Somethings go far so back, it’s nearly impossible to give proper credit. But to intimate that a current designer is responsible for or invented a look is maddening.
Marie Claire staff may be as young as Minkoff, and so maybe not one of them wore one of these ‘back in the day’, but shouldn’t someone recall seeing these before? They were everywhere in the 1980’s. If they forgot that mom, the cool babysitter, etc., wore them, then how about seeing them in glossy fashion magazines? Maybe even in their own publication, say September, 2008 — or the competition they peruse. Everyone’s talking about the 80’s (even though they might be doing poor jobs of matching looks), so how on earth does anyone miss these facts. (Period, cuz that’s rhetorical.)
OK, so maybe calling Minkoff a liar is a bit much… But let’s not act like she — or any of the plethora of studded and adorned leather bracelet designers out now — were inspired void of any knowledge of these accessories, of the styles and designs which came before them.
Designers who replicate the past and do not acknowledge such inspiration annoy me to no end; magazines who pander & promote such inaccuracies will get smacked in the nose by their own rolled-up glossy-page publications– just like a dog who pees on the carpet.
I had spotted this fashion shopping spread in that Elle‘s Women In Hollywood Issue, and the minute I saw it I was confused.
“Break out the jelly platforms, biker shorts, neon bouclé and juicy bangles for a totally rad ensemble,” it says — for Valley Girl?! That’s not the way I remembered the fashions in the film. So, jumping the que in our NetFlix account, I got Valley Girl (1983) to refresh my memory.
Valley Girl stars Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman in the ultimate 80’s Romeo and Juliet story — with a much better ending, as no one dies. *wink* It has sat in my memory all these years as a great film in terms of capturing and expressing the look and feel of the times presented — not just the decade, but those teen years — projecting it all onto a screen then, and preserving it for us now. (I’m not the only one who feels this way either.)
To be honest, Kleph has an excellent review of the film; I found it while Googling for photos and insist that you read it because I probably couldn’t say it better or add anything, really. Plus, this post is about other things about the film: the fashions in the film. So let’s get to it.
Like I said, I could have been wrong recalling the fashions in the film, so I watched it again to be sure… But I wasn’t wrong. Valley Girl is not full of jelly & neon.
This was a period of bright colors, but not neon; think hot pink, turquoise, and yellow, not day-glo colors. The 80’s also had a strong punk influence — black, red, and more black.
Overall, bright solids, stripes and blocks of color were predominant. Collars were ‘up’. Patterns and stripes were bold, clear & crisp, not the colorful cluttered-on-black zippered things Elle shows.
And Julie also wore quite a bit of the that romantic lacy look that I can best describe as Gunne Sax — not just in her prom dress (or the prom dresses of others), but lacy tops with long sleeves with plenty of buttons.
Julie doesn’t just wear these clothes for the cinematic conveyance of her difference, her ties to her hippie parents, her romantic side, or her nervousness dressing for a party (when her friend has to help her button those buttons on her sleeves); these fashions were strong in the 80’s. I owned and wore several of these sorts of blouses — and my prom dresses were all Gunne Sax.
I didn’t live in Southern California, but my friends and I dressed a lot like this (the ‘trickle to the heartland’ theory of fashion); one of the reasons that this movie spoke to us all then — and is fondly remembered now.
That Elle might get the fashions wrong is sad… It’s not just that I want the staff to be old enough to remember Valley Girl (though that would be nice!), fashion was a huge part of the film. As Kleph wrote:
That’s partly because Coolidge understood the distinction was a fallacy to begin with. The valley kids define themselves through what they buy while the Hollywood kids do it by what they don’t – but they still show their allegiances via what they wear. And it’s important that, in Valley Girl, when Julie and Randy first see each other – first become interested in each other – it’s at the beach when they are not in the usual garb of their tribes. It’s also no accident the film starts inside a mall but ends outside it.
Valley Girl is an iconic film which preserves fashions of the time as much as it uses them for a point, yet in pushing the return of such retro 80s fashions, Elle gets it all wrong. For the fashion mag to get the fashions so wrong isn’t ironic; it’s a tragedy.
It’s impossible to avoid the return of 1980’s fashions. From the latest shots of Kim Cattrall & Sarah Jessica Parker 80’s re-do in the filming of the next Sex And The City film…
To the coverage of retro English punk in the November issue of Marie Claire…
(It’s interesting to note that as American’s jumped into the punk scene, they dropped the more dramatic graphic of the English flag — I say it’s a better fashion graphic and offer the fact that it was not replaced with the US flag as proof of my statement — and the term “Punk” was replaced with New Wave.)
As the spread of retro 80’s fashions comes ever-closer, I now will get off my arse and look to see what few items I saved from the 80’s have survived the various downsizings with each household move. (You know how you desperately dry to lighten and compact those boxes!) If I find anything worth noting, I will share it here. Threat or promise? *wink*
John Galliano continued his “tailoring-with-underwear” theme with Christian Dior’ Spring 2010 couture collection. According to Sarah Mower, this collection is based on a forties film noir theme:
Galliano said he found the cinematic cue while thinking about Lauren Bacall. “She was a great Dior client; there are amazing photos of her in the salon with Bogart. It was that and Arletty in Hôtel du Nord,” he said. That central character—a provocative, smoldering femme fatale with a side-parted, over-one-eye hairdo and red lips—gave him free reign to script a wardrobe narrative. It started with abbreviated wartime trenchcoats, flipped through silver lamé dresses, arrived at a sequence in which the heroine is seen in her scanties, and then followed her out to make a drop-dead entrance in some nightclub or other.
But when I look at the photographs of what walked down the runway, what I saw was fashion stories depicting wealthy women deemed homeless, each doomed to wear whatever she had on her back that night her house burst into flames. That may sound like “film noir” to some, but to me, it was far more 1980’s Madonna than 1940’s Bacall; right down to the ZZ Top Legs video girl ankle socks.
Of the 47 looks shown, only two seemed to have the elegance of Bacall and real film noir style in mind. The first, a bustier bodice with skirt, seems to have forsaken the less-is-more mantra with a bulky necklace.
This red ensemble is fabulous though — had Bacall dared to bare her bra, this one seems most likely to be chosen.
All Christian Dior photos by Monica Feudi.
The trouble with girls & young women today is they just don’t know enough about fashion history.
Overheard at the mall (and no, dear daughter, I wasn’t listening to you & your friends; I heard this while waiting in the food court for you), a group of teens discussing the 80’s fashion comeback. They apparently, if my teen-to-adult translator was working right, were disappointed to find that stores weren’t selling “classic 80’s Madonna, like from her Desperately Seeking Susan days.”
“Where,” they snarkily commented, rather than asked, “are the short skirts, the wild boots?” — “That stuff was rad original and iconic!”
Clearly these girls didn’t know that Madonna had ripped-off — or borrowed — from Joan Crawford, so how could I tell them that pretty much everything from Madonna’s “rad original & iconic look” (save for the neon colors – ugh) was the vamp revamping past fashions?
Sure, they might have guessed that the “granny booties” were a version of antique boots or Victorian shoes — daringly paired with short skirts. But clearly they didn’t have a clue that this had been done before too. And with cuffed (decorated, even!), slouch, calf-height boots yet.
Even the disheveled hosiery can be traced back to someone else… Now that’s old school!
If those teenagers would have listened to the creepy old lady who rambled to them at the mall — or if they visited here and read this post — and got back to fashion schooled, can you imagine the “No way!”s? *wink*
My first thought was the film thought — and the usual thought I have regarding Irene Rich: How ironic that when the talkies came in and (despite her fine voice) the film studios lost interest in her, Rich rebounded with a lovely career in radio.
And my next thought was about fashion: Look how lovely all those small stripes are!
In the 1980’s there were lots of jersey ensembles; pants, “unstructured jackets,” and pants — including wide loose fitting pants like these. Perhaps, with this current 80’s revival, I can hope from someone to put an ensemble like this into production.
With all the hype of Twilight, which I’ve not seen, I wanted to focus on my favorite star-crossed-by-fantasy-curse lovers film which captured my heart as fiercely as Twilight seems to have captured the hearts of legions today.
While Twilight seems to strike a chord with teens, who are very impressionable when it comes to romance sans sex, and, something which seems to amaze or impress the press, “moms” and other women who are missing the romance with or without the sex, this chord of emotional longing is also something that most of us hunger for at any age. (If you don’t believe me, please consider the theme of the bulk of popular music in our culture, of which longing, loss and pain are the mainstay. See also Alessia’s Puppies, Kittens & Vampires, Oh My!) So while this film is a film I first saw when I was in my still-wistful-and-not-yet-jaded 20’s, it continues to move me as an adult of a certain age.
The film is Ladyhawke (1985).
In Ladyhawke, thief Phillipe “The Mouse” Gaston (Matthew Broderick) escapes from the dungeon prison at Aquila, with the medieval soldiers of the guard of the ruler of Aquila in hot pursuit.
Just as The Mouse is cornered, he is rescued by a mysterious black knight. This knight is Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer), and his appearance creates quite a stir with the soldiers — not just for his rescue of the escaped prisoner, but, we soon learn, Etienne is the bishop’s sworn enemy.
When Etienne discovers that The Mouse has escaped from the dungeons of Aquila, the knight decides that the thief’s knowledge of escape can be used in reverse to sneak in unseen to Aquila and kill the evil bishop. As the two travel together, The Mouse (and we the audience) discover some odd things about the black knight…
He rides on horseback by day, talking to a hawk on his arm; at night he disappears, and at the same time a wolf appears. And that’s not all; when the hawk disappears at night, a beautiful woman appears.
When both Etienne and the hawk are injured during another fight with the bishop’s guards, The Mouse is instructed to take the hawk to an old abbey where Father Imperius the monk (Leo McKern), will heal her. It is there at that abbey that we see the hawk transform into the beautiful Isabeau d’Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) — and the monk tells the tale…
The wicked bishop lusted after Isabeau, but she and Etienne (then the captain of the bishop’s guards) were lovers. Once the bishop learned of their love, he turned in rejection, bitterness, and hate to the devil, selling his soul to the devil for a curse to be placed upon on the lovers.
The curse made Isabeau a hawk by day, resuming her human form at sunset when Etienne took the form of a wolf. At sunrise, Isabeau would get a glimpse of her love returning to human form before she would become a hawk again, and sit on his arm.
The cursed lovers were doomed to always be together… Yet always apart… Catching glimpses of each other at sunrise and sunset.
But now, armed with The Mouse’s knowledge of the dungeons & the monk’s belief in a scientific prediction, there just might be a way to break the curse — or at least seek revenge…
The film’s scenery is amazingly, undeniably breathtaking. So is Michelle Pfeiffer. I think Vincent Canby, at The New York Times, said it best:
… Miss Pfeiffer, who may well be the most beautiful woman in movies today, is demonstrably someone worth risking eternal damnation for. Her presence, both ethereal and erotic, is so vivid that even when she’s represented as a hawk, she still seems to be on the screen.
While Ladyhawke has been criticized for it’s “dialogue of a banality” (and please note that no one accuses the actors of ham-handed delivery of same — even considering Time Out‘s reference to Hauger being “camp”), I find the combination of stereotypical fairy tale talk & sometimes simplistic lines mixed with modern phrasings as both providing refreshing accessibility (sort of reversing the theory of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet) and amusing in a near fourth-wall breaking sort of a way.
The result is a transformation to a perceived collective “fantasy past” as well as a sense of possibility of living that dream today… It touches me, moves me, in ways that many might feel I should be ashamed to admit — or that I should refer to as a “guilty pleasure.” But I won’t, you see. Because to do so would smear Ladyhawke — and hasn’t she suffered enough? What’s more, calling Ladyhawke a “guilty pleasure” besmirches romance itself.
Why deny the existence of the power of romance? I’m no more likely to deny my love of romance than I am to deny my love of family (which is founded upon such notions & commitment) or my love of my country (which is a collection of families founded on romantic love — all of which agree to protect & pursue romance).
So, when the movie ends, I cry like The Mouse and the monk. And I won’t apologize for it either.
Speaking of Let’s Make Love & stuffed sausages…
As I mentioned, the film straddles two looks; struggling between remnants of New Look fashions and early 60’s looks. Certainly not yet “mod”… But then again, it rather fails to really capture much of any real style. However, the theatrical “sex pot meets Beatnik” style Monroe wore (the sweater over the black catsuit), does warrant some discussion.
I’m not sure how prevalent such a look really was (outside of performance garb, anyway), but those of us who lived — and dressed — through the 80’s can’t help but see shaker sweaters and stirrup pants when they see Marilyn’s costume for the big My Heart Belongs To Daddy number.
Thankfully, whatever the 80’s stole from the 60’s, they “over-sized” it & managed the proportions better.
The sweaters & tops not only were longer (fully covering the behind, no matter how round or large) but V-necks and bolo necklaces etc. helped lengthen the lines too. Long sweaters and knit tunics were also worn over short skirts to help give the appearance of length over nylons & leggings. Also, over-sized sweaters were typically worn belted (with chain belts, hung low; wide leather belts; scarves twisted into belts; and even the sleeves from other tops tied about the waist made a belt), so as to help define the bust from hips, ending the “apple” look. (While I was younger & thinner then, I was still aware that a size 8 or 10 was miles away from the fashion ideal; I still had moments where I felt more like a “lumpy Marilyn apple” than a supermodel.)
Leggings were worn, but stirrup pants also offered the opportunity, (especially with jackets, shaker sweaters & tops which stopped at mid-hip) to start wide and then narrow down to a tapered ankle — appearing as a geometric style rather than having legs suddenly appear like weak stems. Legwarmers also offered the opportunity to balance out top-heavy silhouettes.
Catsuits were also popular in the 80’s — but unlike the see-thru black nylon Marilyn wore, these were opaque Lycra or Spandex knit blends. Black was still a basic; like a blackboard for the crazy colored drawings or layering of sweaters, belts, big earrings and booties.
In fact, layering itself was huge in the 1980’s. And that’s before we even get to the eclectic layering of lingerie ala Madonna.
For Fall 09 RTW, Gucci’s Frida Giannini has an 80’s inspired line, said to be inspired by 80’s fashion icon and model Tina Chow — which is to say, it’s a minimalist 80’s look (as I type that, I’m aware of the oxymoron). Slimmer shoulder pads, more subtle asymmetrical looks, bold stripes — but carried more softly than the big loud stick of decades ago… A general softening of the retro look. (Or, more casual Dynasty meets classic Chanel than the rock or punk 80’s I wore.)
Which reminds me quite a bit of what we saw in the transition from the 80s to the 90’s; far more body conscious & monochromatic than powerful geometrics & contrasting colors. Perhaps this is how we too will swing back into the 80’s?