WORN Cinema Society: Prêt-à-Porter

With Prêt-à-Porter, Robert Altman filmed a self-conscious, grotesque portrait of the fashion industry in an inaccurate, messy, but rather enjoyable manner.

In the first half of the movie, fashion is a playground for men. Olivier de la Fontaine (Jean-Pierre Cassel) runs the Chambre de la Mode. Designer Simone Lowenthal’s son (Rupert Everett) licenses the family brand to a Texan boot maker behind his mother back. Photographer Milo O’Brannigan (Stephen Rea) ascertains his power by blackmailing the holy trinity of fashion editors (ELLE, Vogue, Harper’s).

Women, however, quickly regain control. De la Fontaine dies and his statuesque wife Isabella (Sophia Loren) becomes the focal point of every front row. The editors put their publishing competition aside and team up against the golden boy of photography. Lowenthal shocks the industry by sending naked women down her runway.

(heads up for nudity under the cut)
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Network-ing: Taking style cues from Diana Christensen

Diana Christensen, the fictional head of programming for the also fictional Union Broadcasting System (UBS) in Network is one of the strongest lead female characters in 1970s cinema. As the neurotic, power-hungry Christensen, Faye Dunaway won an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role.

In retrospect, Christensen’s satirical obsession with ratings, reality TV, and angry shows was prophetic. The first show we see her sell is based on a lefty revolutionary group. Her argument? People are angry, and we need to mirror their anger on TV: “I want counterculture, I want anti-establishment.”

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Bob Dylan is my Grandpa

I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, watching documentaries about the chain-smoking, smart-talking folk singer, and sitting in corners of bookstores, rifling through an ever-growing pile of Dylan-focused books. I don’t mean “I got into Dylan two years ago, experienced all the hipster-hype, and I’m ‘growing up’ now.” No. I mean that Bob Dylan was a part of my childhood, just like he was a part of my teenage years, just like he will be a part of my adult years.

A couple of Christmases ago I bought my dad the Bob Dylan Scrapbook because I (secretly) wanted to read it first. Then, last summer, I was at an antiques warehouse and bought a 95-cent book from the 1960s for fifteen dollars. It wasn’t even in good shape and I had to glue the cover back on. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a 20-something Dylan in a blazer and dress-shirt, grinning and hiding from the camera.

Daniel Kramer’s Bob Dylan (1967), along with documentaries like Don’t Look Back and No Direction Home, have convinced me that if I were a man, I would do whatever it took to look like Dylan. I’d cut my hair like his, messy and uneven, and I’d wear slim-fitting slacks, blazers, polka-dot shirts, and high-heeled Cuban boots every day of my life. Yes, every day of my life. Oh, and Wayfarers, of course.

Not only would I be a shameless Bob Dylan impersonator, but I’d tell people the real Bob was my grandpa. I’d make up a story about how my grandma met him in Greenwich Village in the sixties, and “it was all very secretive” because I think he was with Suze then.

Everyone would believe me.

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The Wonderland Effect

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.
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