Movie Inspiration of the Week – Le Mépris (1963)

The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desire. This is the story of that world

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Costume Designer Tanine Autré

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Aristotelian tragedies might not need elaborate costumes. After all, sometimes what you do not wear speaks as loud as what you do.

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This week, inspiration seems to be simple,  the always present, always perfect always modern Breton shirt. This week, more than ever, craving Summer by the harsh and timeless landscapes of Mediterranean sea.

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This was the first film that made me feel I could (I needed to) live inside it.

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You aspire to a world like Homer’s, but, unfortunately, that doesn’t exist

References

Contempt: A Visual Reading and Other Loose Ends

 

 

Movie inspiration of the week – La Dolce Vita (1960)

the smarter the clothes, the more dangerous the man, and the more damaged the clothes, the more vulnerable the man

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Costume Designer Piero Gherardi, Academy Award for Best Costume Design (BW) 1961 and 1963 for 8½

Piero Gherardi, self-taught in art and architecture, created the overall look of La Dolce Vita. He was costume and set designer, as well as art director. This is a stylish film as a whole, as Gherardi placed equal emphasis on the costumes for both female and male leads. Every scene in La Dolce Vita strikes you as a beautifully styled photograph and the film still guides sartorial aspirations around the globe.

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And aspire you do. To be ” the first woman on the first day of creation. [The] mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home”.  Of course much helped by the natural statuesque sensuality of Sylvia, costumes do play a decisive part on the construction this first Woman, the unattainable male fantasy.

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Much in the same way as they immortalized  the sophisticated, frivolous elegance of the thrill seeking Maddalena. Has ennui ever looked more glamorous on-screen?

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We need to live in a state of suspended animation like a work of art, in a state of enchantment. We have to succeed in loving so greatly that we live outside of time, detached.

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In La Dolce Vita‘s mid-century Rome, Sylvia, Emma and Maddalena are each either proponents or victims of the media-hyped sweet life, with Sylvia as the celebrity symbol of fantasy, Maddalena as a habitual consumer of the trivial, and Emma as an outsider suffering the undesirability of being so.

LA DOLCE VITA Yvonne Furneaux Madonna

But this is unmistakably a movie about a man, a magnificently attractive one. La Dolce Vita confirmed Mastroiani, even if he rejected the title himself, as the ultimate Latin Lover. This Latin Lover appears as a cultural symbol of the Italian as “other”, the “imagined embodiment of the primitive, whose unrestrained and exotic passion directly affronts the more civilized and restrained Northern European or American Society”. This cultural symbol is also a cultural commodity, a “poster boy” for Rome as the hot spot of the rich, the famous and the beautiful, but also for the “European Don Giovanni and the Italian style based on the emergence of Italian fashion and design”.

Fellini and Gherardi present fashion and clothing as a “subtle critique of Italian masculinity”. Jacqueline Reich claims that Marcello, the journalist, is an anti-hero (inetto), ” a man in conflict with an unsettled and at times unsettling political and sexual environment” but always immaculately dressed, the embodiment of the cultural heritage of the bella figura, “reflecting a taste for public display of self-worth though appearance”.

Malossi (quoted by Reich) observes that “the Italian male literally puts on a show for the admiring public. Like the dandy, the bella figura parades his sense of style, his masculinity, and his sensuality, regardless of his social and economic status. Both individual and national identity are written on the body through clothing and grooming and paraded for the community”. I have only been to Italy for work a couple of time, and in Rome stayed only a few hours, enough to walk to the Fontana di Trevi and drive past the Coliseum but, the parading of well dressed men did really make a strong impression on me. Never before I had seen in practice this notion that “dressing well [is] both a privilege and a responsibility” and the conscious use of public space as stage and tailoring and suits as costumes.

In La Dolce Vita, Fellini, presents us with the “discontinuity between surface and substance. Marcello Rubini is dressed in the latest fashions but the costuming fails to mask his moral, spiritual and sexual failings”. Still, at the end, vulnerable  and damaged in his white suit, Rubini is still showing us that, as claimed by Bruzzi, “masculinity is directly measured by narcissism”.

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References

Jacqueline Reich, UNDRESSING THE LATIN LOVER Marcello Mastroiani, fashion and La Dolce Vita in Bruzzi and Gibson (2013) Fashion Cultures Revisited: Theories, Explorations and Analysis

classiq.me/style-in-film-la-dolce-vita

http://www.whatladylikes.com/2015/02/that-sweet-life.html

https://thefashioneaste.com/tag/la-dolce-vita/

mastroianni-dolce-vita

 

 

 

 

Movie Inspiration of the Month – The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994)

Costume Designers: Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner (Oscar Best Costume Design, 1995; BAFTA Best Costume Design, 1995; Australian Film Institute Best Achievement in Costume Design, 1994).

After a somewhat long hiatus caused by jet lagging, I’m back to being movie inspired, this time by one of my absolute favourites.

A story of blood, sweat and tears and a ton of sequins on a tight budget ($20.000) that results in a fabulous road movie extravaganza.

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Costume designer Tim Chappel says that for Priscilla, instead of getting briefed by the director or researching the characters, he and co-designer Lizzy Gardner started with the music. He was allowed to just do free association to the songs, and come up with ideas from that point. It was a truly creative experience.

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Reading those words just made me want to experiment doing the same. How would “normal life” look like like if instead of the weather forecast or your scheduled meetings, or any other practical consideration, each day was inspired by a song?

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Probably an idea worth considering.

I would like to have my words meet the grandeur and glamour of this larger than life adventure. The fact is, they can’t. Again in the the words of Tim Chappel this is a movie that taps into this idea of being yourself and absolute freedom

Glitter does never age and it does not get more fabulous than this.

 

Images via http://www.theguardian.com and http://www.nfsa.gov.au

Movie inspiration of the Month – Thelma and Louise (1991)


Costume Designer Elizabeth McBride

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I’m in Colorado for the week so it seemed natural to go back to a movie of South West journeys.

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While this is not a movie with elaborate costumes, clothes do tell a powerful story on Thelma and Louise, accompanying character development and the change of direction and the so

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You said you ‘n’ me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin’, look out ’cause my hair is comin’ down!image

they become more and more natural, but more and more beautiful as it goes on and by the end… just these mythical looking creatures.

Ridley Scott

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Movie Inspiration of the week – Il Gattopardo (1963)

Without Sicily, Italy creates no image in the soul: here is the key to everything.

Goethe

Costume Designer Piero Tosi. His work can be admired in luminous films by such directors as Luchino Visconti, Vittorio De Sica and Franco Zeffirelli.  Tosi earned five Academy Award nominations during his career and an Academy Honory Award in 2013. His designs brought elegance, artistry, passion and, dare I say, a mastery of fantasmagoria and nostalgia, and even humour  to neo-realist dramas, historical romances and farsical comedies, including Senso, Death in Venice (BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design), The DamnedLa Traviata (BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design) and La Cage Aux Folles.

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Martin Scorsese, who restored this 1963 classic to its former glory and brought it back to Cannes in 2010, has often referred to “The Leopard” as one of the five best films ever made, having live [d] with this movie every day of [his] life. One of director Luchino Visconti’s handful of masterpieces, the film features subtle, visual storytelling in a world of decaying opulence, with its “deeply measured tone … its use of vast spaces and also the richness of every detail.” .

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As far as costume design goes, this is a true masterpiece. Tosi was born in Florence amid art, and studied at Florence’s Accademia di Belle Arti.  Both his appreciation for art and his knowledge of art’s history as a living and breathing heritage is evident in the design of his costumes (Christian Esquevin)

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 The extraordinary, verging on obsessive, collaboration between Piero Tosi and Umberto Tirelli , the tailor whose fate led him to create not for men but their representations, created a magnificent work of art through costume. Something like 2,000 costumes were made for this film. Visconti was one of the most meticulous Italian directors, he loved historical accuracy and had a great attention to details. Tirelli often remembered him working together with the costume designers, picking the colours for the costumes, studying the silhouettes and the shapes, sampling the fabrics and checking upon the work made by the tailoring houses (Anna Battista).

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The ball scene, where new and old Italy come face to face with each other,  takes about one-third of the total length of the movie and took a whole month to film, involving around 200 people in 14 interconnected rooms. 400 costumes were made for this scene alone, the most celebrate of which is, of course, the magnificent organza ball gown worn by Claudia Cardinale /Angelica Sedara.

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Il Gattopardo, an epic adaptation of Giuseppe de Lampedusa’s novel about an aristocratic Sicilian family’s adjustment to a changing way of life during the Risorgimento (1815-1871, the novel itself opens in 1860) is a tale of melancholy and change, a testimony of social avalanche, Art embodying History.

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Those were the best days in the life of Tancredi and Angelica, lives later to be so variegated, so erring, against the inevitable background of sorrow. But that they did not know then; and they were pursuing a future which they deemed more concrete than it turned out to be, made of nothing but smoke and wind.

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel

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All Sicilian sensuality is a hankering for oblivion … that is the cause of the well-known time lag of a century in our artistic and intellectual life; novelties attract us only when they are dead.

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel

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Fabrizio and Jean Baptiste Greuze’s The Punished Son (1778)

Do you really think, Chevalley, that you are the first who has hoped to canalise Sicily into the flow of universal history? I wonder how many Moslem Imams, how many of King Roger’s knights, how many Swabian scribes, how many Angevin barons, how many jurists of the Most Catholic King have conceived the same fine folly; and how many Spanish viceroys too, how many of Charles III’s reforming functionaries! And who knows now what happened to them all! Sicily wanted to sleep in spite of their invocations; for why should she listen to them if she herself is rich, if she’s wise, if she’s civilized, if she’s honest, if she’s admired and envied by all, if, in a word, she is perfect?

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel

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If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel

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Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda 2015

Everyone is either a fairy or princess.

Stefano Gabbana

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Dolce and Gabbana Alta Moda 2015

 

Look at all this beauty, truth and emotion, created from nothing but words. Just words. How can you possibly spend your life not trying to do the same?

Giuseppe Di Lampedusa, The Leopard: A Novel

Tosi and Tirelli magnificently bring to life the glamorous, sensual and desperate  characters in Lampedusa’s novel. This is also, a portrait of the “lost South” or as Jonathan Jones so eloquently put it Lampedusa’s Sicily is a place where the optimistic, progressive, rational forces of history as viewed in the 19th century – the march of liberal democracy and of socialism alike – get lost in baroque back streets at midnight. As a myth, as a fiction of history, The Leopard will continue to ensnare minds, and not only in Italy. Lampedusa’s despair is not so different from that of today’s world, with its shrunken political expectations. We are all Sicilians now.

References

Goethe, Martin Scorsese, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa,

Photos via http://www.virtual-history.com and http://www.vogue.com

Movie Inspiration of the week – Orlando (1992)

Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando
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Costume Designer Sandy Powell who has won three Oscars for Best Costume Design (Shakespeare in Love, 1998; The Aviator, 2014 and The Young Victoria, 2009) and is responsible for sartorially composing characters in some of my favourite movies.

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For it was this mixture in her of man and woman, one being uppermost and then the other, that often gave her conduct an unexpected turn. The curious of her own sex would argue, for example, if Orlando was a woman, how did she never take more than ten minutes to dress? And were not her clothes chosen rather at random, and sometimes worn rather shabby? And then they would say, still, she has none of the formality of a man, or a man’s love of power.

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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Yet again, though bold and active as a man, it was remarked that the sight of another in danger brought on the most womanly palpitations. She would burst into tears on slight provocation. She was unversed in geography, found mathematics intolerable, and held some caprices which are more common among women than men, as for instance that to travel south is to travel downhill.

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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Whether, then, Orlando was most man or woman, it is difficult to say and cannot now be decided. .

― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

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The film’s social commentary is never far from the surface, however, and “the sheer crippling unmanageability of Orlando’s bourgeois female attire… brilliantly conveys feminine physical and social constraint” (Pidduck, 106).

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To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men. The social presence of women has developed as a result of their ingenuity in living under such tutelage within such a limited space. But this has been at the cost of a woman’s self being split in two. A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

 

‘we are one with a human face’.

 

 

…not a blend of masculine and feminine characteristics, but an absence of them, and where androgynes are perceived to rely on neither masculine nor feminine behaviors.

Larin McLaughlin

 

Photos via Costume Captures

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964)

 

Costume Designer Jacqueline Moreau, César Award for Best Costume Design for La passion Béatrice in 1988 and La vie et rien d’autre in 1990.
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French director Jacques Demy didn’t just make movies—he created an entire cinematic world. Demy launched his glorious feature filmmaking career in the sixties, a decade of astonishing invention in his national cinema. He stood out from the crowd of his fellow New Wavers, however, by filtering his self-conscious formalism through deeply emotional storytelling.

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Palme d’Or, Technical Grand Prize and OCIC Award 1964 Cannes Film Festival

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It’s been raining for over three months here. Every week. This is Southern Europe and it’s getting to be depressing. It doesn’t get much uplifting than this brilliant, bright and bold technicolor world of exuberant details where clothes even match wallpaper.

 

Getting to know who you are

What’s in a name

According to the label on it, I’ve had this t-shirt since I was 4. I guess these were quite popular at the time and my brother also had one.


At four, this was just a cute t-shirt with my name on it, now I look at it and see the beginning of my long saga of letting clothes tell me who I am. The fact that it actually has my name on it makes it even more important. I have always identified with the name chosen for me. Both of them. My two given names are Nadine and Stella. One meaning Hope and the other, of course, meaning Star. These meanings have, undoubtedly, shaped my main personality trait, I’m the eternal optimist, the obstinate one “that maintains that everything is best when it is worst.”

Nadine is the name everyone calls me, it’s also the name that has always made sense to call mine. Re-reading my 9 year old diary I realise that it also the name of the character I’ve created for myself. Most of the pages are full of descriptions of this girl called Nadine, an aspirational self, subject to countless experimentations of posture, behaviour, appearance, treated in writing like some amazing heroin in one of the countless books that were my most usual companions at the time.

Growing up in Portugal it was also too different from all the other names at school or the doctor’s office. At a time when you didn’t want to be noticed it was the kind of name that did not allow for any kind of invisibility. I didn’t actually realise how good that was. I do now. It is the kind of name that does not really require a surname. You can just be.

The imaginary or delusional grandeur I came to see in this name made it difficult to live up to it. How not to fall short from the character? I started by dressing it, all it’s moods, quirks, dreams and aspirations as a costume designer of some sorts. That’s how I ended up with a massive closet and no archiving space.

Stella has never been the protagonist. Others have never recognised it as a character and I am only slowly discovering that it might also be a name with it’s own voice.
Say Your Name

References

Voltaire

A character on 2046

Heartbreaking pasts and unchanged futures

 

2046 is one of my favorite movies of all times. It’s beautifully photographed, the wardrobe is divine and it leaves you with a permanent sense of longing and missing the future. I bought this dress on eBay and I was totally convinced that I could attain the sort of elusive elegance portrayed by Wong Kar Wai.

I’m not a movie critic of any sorts and even though I spend a lot of my time watching movies, I related to them primarily through an aesthetic involvement, I want to get lost in them. This particular movie mirrors what seems to be my most pervasive attitude towards life. Somewhat aimless, seldom focused on the outcomes, but always looking forward and enjoying the journey.

Is a dress that important? Having been on stage (not metaphorically) more than once, nothing makes me more aware of the character than the wardrobe that lets me understand what story I’m supposed to be telling.

On the other, the metaphorical stage, having the right props for the day’s performance always seemed to be the most enjoyable way of making the journey., transforming ordinary activities into moments of filmic fleeting beauty.

Every passenger who goes to 2046 has the same intention. They want to recapture lost memories because nothing ever changes in 2046. Nobody knows if that’s true because nobody’s ever come back.

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