Alice in Wonderland [Tim Burton, 2010]
Last week, WORN’s Editor-in-Pants tried to schedule a staff meeting. “I can’t come,” I told her. “I won tickets to an advance screening of the new Alice in Wonderland movie.” Apparently I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t make it and the meeting ended up being rescheduled. “Maybe you could write about the movie’s costumes for our blog?” she said, subtly reminding of how long it had been since I last wrote a post (her exact words being, “it’s been a long time since you wrote a post.”) I told her I would.
After my last class on Wednesday I bolted for the TTC, hoping to make it to the theatre in time for the 7 pm screening. Long story short: I was too late, and the doors were closed by the time I got there. “Well, that’s it,” I thought. “I’ll have no article to turn in and everybody in the entire world is going to hate me for being a terrible, terrible blogger and for making my editor reschedule the staff meeting for nothing” (sometimes I get dramatic when I’m tired). But gosh darn it, I had promised our good readers here at WORN an Alice in Wonderland themed blog post, and I am a woman of my word. So here you go:
Neco z Alenky [Jan Scankmajer, 1988]
It’s not like there’s a lack of anything to say on the subject of fashion and Alice. If I had a penny for every artsy film adaption, inspired runway collection, and magazine editorial entitled “Through the Looking Glass” I would have enough cash to buy not only my own movie ticket, but theatre-priced popcorn – and that’s saying something. I want to start this post somewhere else, however. After all, my own introduction to Lewis Carroll didn’t happen with a visually-saturated interpretation of his stories – no, not even the Disney one – but rather on a more literally literary level.
I can name more than a few reasons to watch and revisit the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago: the cinematography, the passionate love story, the incredible acting and, of course, the costumes that won the film the 1965 Oscar for Best Costume Design. With its lush costumes creating a stunning depiction of the time period’s trends, the gripping tale takes the protagonists from a lavish life of leisure to the poverty of war. Set against the Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war, the film takes place mostly between 1912 and 1921, creating a vastly different view of pre and post-revolutionary Russia.
Geraldine Chaplin plays sweet and supportive Tonya, Yuri Zhivago’s step-sister turned wife. Her introductory scene shows Tonya hopping off a busy train from Paris at the Moscow train station in a fitted, pale pink dress and overcoat with matching fur hat and grey muff. The costume garnered much attention from Director David Lean, a stickler for details in the film, who insisted on a few revisions to the design before it hit the set. In Doctor Zhivago: The Making of a Russian Epic, Costume Designer Phyllis Dalton explains, “That was a sad argument I had with the Director at the time because I designed that same costume in pale grey with a black fur hat because I thought she would be so sophisticated she would want to go with the utterly grown up thing, and a rather tight skirt that she could hardly run in, which was very in in Paris in those days.” Geraldine Chaplin recalls the conflict, saying that Dalton then had a white version of the outfit made, which Lean rejected since it made Chaplin’s teeth look “too yellow.” Dalton goes on to say, “David didn’t say he didn’t like it but he was quite adamant that he wanted a pale colour. He said ‘try pink’ …and it’s the most beautiful outfit in the whole film.” The look is elegant early 20th Century Parisian, a chic yet glamorous show stealer. Among the details Lean is known for implementing in his films, he is said to have made all his actors wear period undergarments beneath their costumes for added authenticity, though they were never visible in any of the film’s scenes. Continue reading
Just to show you all how incredibly fickle I can be when it comes to my sources of inspiration, I will transition from the senior-citizen-inspired post I wrote last month to something considerably more childish… Charlie Brown.
Peanuts has been my favourite comic strip and cartoon for as long as I can remember. I think there is something about the sarcastic, sad, and sort of morbid way that Charlie Brown talks that always just made me feel like I could relate to him a little. Whatever the reason, Mr. Schulz is responsible for some of my very favourite holiday specials, from Halloween to Christmas and Thanksgiving, too. It wasn’t until this year when I was desperate for some form of inspiration in the middle of dreary, uninspired January that I actually saw myself looking to Lucy’s and Charlie’s little sisters’, even to Peppermint Patty’s, wardrobes, and noticing a characteristic style I could latch on to.
Now I’m sure that I’m beginning to appear a little desperate, looking to cartoons for wardrobe inspiration, and maybe that’s true to a certain extent. Every January I wind up suffering from a serious case of “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear,” and this January was far from the exception. The excitement of layering wore off after Christmas and all the wonderful spring collections are starting to rub their pretty floral prints and sweet flouncy pastel dresses in my face, but I know there are still several months of boots and tripled tights and scarves and hats before I can bust out my dainty little oxfords and prance around without worrying about falling down and breaking my hip on the icy sidewalk! So I guess seeing the young ladies in C. Brown walking around in cute little saddle shoes and easy-to-slip-on long-sleeved frocks with their hair all done up made me at least a little bit excited to get dressed in the morning again!
When we first meet Clementine Kruczynski (played by Kate Winslet) in Michel Gondry’s 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she has blue hair. Introducing herself on a bus to Jim Carrey’s Joel Barish, she explains her reasoning behind the dye job. “It changes colour a lot,” she says. “It’s called Blue Ruin…this company makes a whole bunch of colours with equally snappy names. I apply my personality in a paste.” In watching this movie for the first time I may or may not have yelled at my TV screen, “Geez Clementine, why don’t you just wear a sign around your neck that says ‘tra la la, I’m so quirky!’” (I might have a problem with contrived one-dimensional “offbeat” film characters – yeah, I’m looking at you, Natalie Portman in Garden State). Of course, to the film’s credit, Clementine turns out to be a well-developed character and the movie escapes many typical clichés, earning Oscar nods for both Winslet and the screenplay. The reasons behind its success are evident – but since we are on a fashion blog, I will be focusing solely on Clementine’s hair.
As the film unfolds in a non-linear fashion (hey, it worked hard for that best original screenplay Oscar!), Clementine’s hair colour changes from blue to orange to red to green. While I gotta love any movie that treats a personal styling choice as a plot device – the hair colour helps keep track of the movie’s constantly shifting timeline – more appealing still is the way that it is unapologetically treated as a realistic artistic outlet. Clementine isn’t the first film character to express herself via hair colour; honourable mentions go to My So Called Life’s Angela Chase, Ghost World’s Enid Coleslaw and Whip It’s Bliss Cavendar. However, there’s something to be said for a woman who is more than a couple of years past teenager-dom willing to repeatedly experiment with crayola-coloured hair.
My own adventures with hair dye start a bit younger; going to summer camp in the ’90s, hair mascara was all the rage. The smelly, sparkly, purple-y goop joined Bonnebelle lip smackers and Caboodles nail polish as the must-have beauty products for the preteen girl set. Once I got to middle school, I was met with a strict dress code that deemed any unnatural or dramatic hair colours to be an “academic distraction.” My mother used to take me to her hair salon to get blonde highlights (occasionally I would be able to sneak by with a little bit of red in there). I made it through the eighth grade with the secret knowledge that at the back of my closet hid a bottle of L’Oreal do-it-yourself hair colouring in Purest Black.