Tuesday, April 26, 2011
By Chelsea Turner
Heather Chandler’s costume of a power shoulder blazer, red shorts over white tights, crisp white blouse with broach closure and her iconic red scrunchie are iconic in this movie. The first time we see Heather at her ruling ground of Westerburg High in her powerful clique. Her on trend (at the time) and loud jacket communicate her authority and influence, not only over the less loudly dressed students but also over the other 2 Heathers and Veronica. The traditionally business plaid and double breasted style are also reminiscent of a forceful business man. Her red scrunchie and skirt is the symbol of her leadership status, as she states during a croquet match later that day, “I’m always red.” Later in the film, Heather Duke takes the same red schunchie and wears it, making the statement that she is now the most powerful Heather.
Bryan Boy front and centre; image courtesy of fashionbombdaily.com
In the discussion of the democratization of fashion, one cannot help but immediately refer to the emergence and acceptance of bloggers in the main current of the fashion industry. Blogs, in general, simply serve as an online format to communicate and present ideas, and have been on the rise of creation since 2005, with over 80 000 created per day during that time (Cantone). This insurgence of blogs has unveiled not only a subculture, but also hierarchical disruption in information dissemination and a new level of visual vicarious consumption. All of which leads to the question as to whether or not the fashion industry has been democratized, and has it been with the aid of the fashion blog.
The discussion of subculture leads back to the early work of British media theorist Dick Hebdige. It is not so much the actual subculture that is of interest, but rather, the incorporation/recuperation of the fashion blog subculture into the hegemonic culture. Recuperated in both commodity and ideological senses, the fashion blog has become a prevalent part of the press circle. Examples recall famed blogger Bryan Grey-Yambao of Bryan Boy quickly ushered to his seat with minutes to go until the start of the AW11 Costume National show.
The question of actual democratization can then be examined by taking a closer look and redefining the leisure/in-crowd. The fashion blogger can be included in the population of the higher middle class when noting slow return on investment in creating a popular online persona. Therefore, it is not a fair representation of everyone that participates in the consumerism component of the industry. But with that said, the blog platform has allowed for the participation of the average person through commenting, and the collaboration of bloggers and brands illustrates that the “more normal” person can earn a place in the industry.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), the protagonist of Mary Harron’s 2000 film adaptation of American Psycho, charmed both women and men with his lifestyle, good looks and sleek wardrobe. Bateman obsesses over his appearance, as made evident in his voice-overs throughout the film. In the iconic “raincoat scene,” Bateman slaughters his business acquaintance, Paul Allen, with an axe:
Patrick Bateman: Paul Allen has mistaken me for this dickhead Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and in fact does the same exact thing I do and he also has a penchant for Valentino suits and Oliver Peoples glasses. Marcus and I even go to the same barber, although I have a slightly better haircut.
Resolute to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and scrupulous with his presentation, Bateman embodies the consumerist 1980s Wall Street man. Though his actions are monstrous, he manages to look good—even when soaked in Allen’s blood. His wardrobe—the Valentino suit—is a classic symbol of male authority. The designer label adds further value to the symbol. Bateman, though psychotic, also seems to act independent of any higher authority. His apparel, then, reflect his self-perceived untouchable status.
Radio Raheem is an iconic character in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. His character in the film is a symbol of Black pride as racial tensions continue to mount during a sweltering summer in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Radio Raheem is never seen without his trademark "Bed-Stuy, Do or Die" t-shirt, "Love and Hate" four finger rings, African pendant, and oversized boom box.
In the 2007 movie Atonement, each costume was carefully designed to not only embody the character’s personality, but also the period of the 1930s-1940’s in which the majority of the film takes place. The costume designer Jacqueline Durran designed all the costumes for Atonement as well as for the film Pride and Prejudice, and she was nominated for an Academy Award for both films. The most infamous costume from Atonement is the emerald green dress that Keira Knightly so elegantly wears close to the start of the film. The color, the style and the fit are all important in order to portray Keira Knigtleys character and perhaps foreshadow later changes in the film. It is important that the viewer remembers this dress, because it is the dress Cecilia Tallis wears the night her entire life changes along with the tone of the film. The emerald green color is striking, and the green and silk evoke connotations of wealth and aristocracy. One of the many theories is that the green also reflects the envy that her sister Bryony Tallis has at the start of the film. Durran also said she chose the color because green symbolizes temptation which is a major theme throughout the film, especially during the events that take place while she wears the dress. This is the last time that we see Cecilia Tallis wear a dress that is as youthful, vibrant, sexy, and elegant. It reflects the character’s transformation from a naïve “child” to a an adult. Durran states: "instead of being constructed around Keira's body, the dress skimmed her [frame] and added to a feeling of semi-nakedness." This dress further evokes the ideas of temptation, youthfulness, playfulness, and sexiness all while remaining completely elegant. The costume also reflects the time period as seen in the slim fit, low back and long train. These were all characteristics commonly seen in dresses during this period. This is an example of how one costume can reflect a wealth of information about a character and further enhance the writer and the director’s vision.