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Entries in Threads (4)

Wednesday
Nov122014

Threads: Summer garb from "Atonement"

Andrew here, taking up the mantle for newish series “Threads” while Nathaniel's in LA. Each Wednesday we’ll fixate on one specific costume.

This week, to distract from the flurry of snow that some parts of the U.S. might be experiencing let's go summer. To be honest, I'm mostly using this as an excuse to talk about Keira Knightley since 2014 has been a great year for her and she may well hog the red carpet soon. She's probably the best of the cinematic clothes-horses  right now. It helps that three of her most significant characters were dressed by the excellent Jacqueline Durran. Durran does not work as much as Sandy Powell or Colleen Atwood, but when she does she's simply oustanding.

I’m sure when you hear Atonement  and costume design your mind immediately goes that lush green dress. Why wouldn’t it? I remember the majority of the push for Jacqueline's Oscar campaign in 2007 was around that gown. As lovely as it was, though, it's not the costume I find most impressive in Atonement. For that, look to the understated blouse and skirt Cecilia spends the first 15 minutes wearing.

The simplicity and detail is such a great example of Durran’s ability to triumph with the simple just as with the grandiose. It’s such an effective get-up for Cecilia. The large buttons on the skirt and that unusual pocket placement, the blouse that looks thin enough to deal with the heat. The flowers point to the season but they're not too busy or finicky to seem out of place on Cecilia. It's detailed enough to betray her wealth, but not too ornate to make her seem ostentatious. Particularly obsession worthy is the unusual print on the skirt; the designs should clash, but they miraculously don't.

Like everything in Atonement it photographs beautifully. She strips of the outfit soon enough, though, in that fateful fountain meeting. To reveal, beneath it, a matching slip. I've always wondered if the tan coloured slip was a Jacqueline Durran original, too...

Previously on "Threads":
The Book of Life; Snowpiercer

Wednesday
Nov052014

Threads: "I love her to death"

Jose here, each Wednesday in "Threads" we'll be obsessing over a single costume we're fixated on that week. This week, because we're coming down from a Halloween candy sugar rush, we discuss the exuberant elegance of La Muerte in The Book of Life (which Nathaniel had already suggested as a great Halloween costume). 

 
Clad in tight-fitting red fabric from top to bottom, La Muerte’s (voiced by telenovela superstar Kate del Castillo) outfit only truly comes to life through its accessories; particularly that larger than life hat adorned with hanging skulls, flowers and candles, all of which are dazzling to behold from an aesthetic perspective, but are fascinating because of their symbolic meaning. La Muerte, which is Spanish for “death” is a festive representation of the Mexican Day of the Dead, in which family members visit the graves of their deceased ones and bring them offerings which include chocolate skulls, sugar bread and tequila.

This particular vision of death, not as a Grim Reaper, but a beautiful, even sexy skeleton, became iconic after illustrator José Guadalupe Posada created it as a satirical representation of Mexicans who had adopted foreign traditions and were betraying their culture. The Catrina, as it’s known in Spanish (“catrina” also means “well dressed”) featured in the film combines several cultural elements (notice the Aztec prints on her dress and the altar on her hat) and also pays homage to one of Mexico’s greatest screen legends: María Félix, who was known for her larger than life personality, unique sense of style and her memorable performances.

Félix inspired artists like Diego Rivera, Bridget Tichenor, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and the jewelers at Cartier, who designed a now legendary snake necklace just for her. She also inspired Francis Cabrel to write the song “Je l'aime à mourir” for her, literally “I love her to death”, talk about coming full circle...

Related: this year's Oscar race for animated feature
Anne Marie interviewed Book of Life exec producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez
Previously on "Threads": Snowpiercer 

Wednesday
Oct292014

Threads: "Know your place. Accept your place. Be a shoe"

Each Wednesday in "Threads" we'll be obsessing over a single costume we're fixated on that week. This one's an apology: how on earth did Snowpiercer get left out of those Halloween Costume Suggestions yesterday?

Tilda Swinton spends the bulk of her screentime in Snowpiercer, now on DVD, in a politican-conservative white top and matching skirt adorned with medals. Well, as white as clothing can be in the sooty environs of this dystopian movie where the earth's only living citizens have lived on a speeding train for decades. But when we first see her she's wearing an burnt orange fur with matching tinted glasses, over a brilliant purple skirt suit and boy does it pop surrounded by the grays, blacks, and dour miserabilism of the train. The costume's purpose? Surely to intimidate with its wealthy grandeur and add to that same miserablism. Or, as costume designer Catherine George put it in an interview with Clothes on Film, her inspiration was

...images of women from the from late 60’s/early 70’s, a certain type that I remembered growing up who would wear their fur to go into town and scoff at people who were less better off, a bit of a Margaret Thatcher type, really. The suit was a typical conservative politician shape and style – the purple has the royal quality and it pops with the colour of the fur.

Minister Mason launches into her instantly classic "Be a shoe" monologue in this ensemble in order to put the low class citizens in their 'back of the train' place.

The costume is glorious but Tilda is crazy enough to be hideously unattractive within it. Despite her fashion icon status and ageless alien beauty, the actress has always been without vanity as a performer and the cinema is all the better for it.  The tables are eventually turned on Mason, a self proclaimed "hat" to inferior "shoes," and she is forced to wear a shoe on her own head.

A shoe is not a hat. Except when Tilda wears it, fully revelling in its absurdity.

New group fantasy for the weekend: What if everyone on earth dressed up as their favorite Tilda character this weekend? All  these unforgivingly cruel and icy dystopias that are so in vogue would melt away leaving a Swintonian Utopia in their place.

Snowpiercer is now available on Netflix Instant Watch 
Related: this year's Oscar race for costume design 
Previously on "Threads": Outlander 

Wednesday
Oct222014

Threads - New Series!

In order to indulge more of TFE's fetish for costume design, in this new Wednesday series "Threads" we'll discuss (briefly) whichever single costume we're most obsessed with that week, from anywhere in time and any filmed medium. Let's begin with a look from Outlander, currently airing on Starz.

I know this will be very shocking and quite impossible to believe if you haven't yet seen the show, but THIS bandage fetish wear on fantasy-man Jamie (Sam Heughan) is not the best costume on display however enticing it may be...

Click to read more ...