Something's Very Wrong Here

Teeki Swimwear - Summer '11

In some ways this image/post could be linked back to my post of the sexual child look frequently used by hollywood, but in reality this image has taken that idea a great distance in the wrong direction. I'm not sure if there's been an error in the editing but the proportions of this model give the impression of a 12 year old child with a woman's figure wearing a scaled down bikini and heels. I can't image that being what has actually been photographed, so it must be an adult model with an oddly large head (the proportion of head to body usually seen in prepubescents). Or perhaps it is the styling with big hair and huge sunglasses falsely giving the impression of such a large head. However when coupled with her gap-toothed grin and head titled to the side, the overall impression is incredibly uncomfortable to look at.


The Sexy Child

One of the things that's cropped up in both the old movies we've watched and the readings we've done is the concept of the woman as both naively childlike and overtly sexual.
Particular examples from the lecture series are Marilyn Monroe and Bridget Bardot, though Audrey Hepburn is a less sexualised example.

Marilyn was constructed as an uber-sexual ideal, her hair dyed platinum blonde and her wardrobe filled with slinky, fitted clothing. Yet she was always portrayed as quite dumb, easily taken in by the men around her. And it is this combination that makes her appealingly safe as a sex object to men, she's gorgeous but in no way threatening. Despite this she has a 'tongue-in-cheek' quality that makes her similarly appealing to women, she knows her affect on men and uses it to her advantage.

The huge skirt and feet pointed inwards are very childlike,
 while the cleavage and  amount of skin showing from her
only-just-staying-on dress is very sexual. It's the two together
that make her so widely accessible.

Bridget Bardot had a similarly created persona, combining sexuality and innocence. Her hair was also dyed blonde and she exhibited a childlike dishabille which when first exhibited to the world at the Cannes Film Festival put her on the road to fame. She became renowned for her overt sexuality and innocent nonchalance.

Like the Marilyn image Bridget is photographed
showing a lot of flesh, her 'clothes' similarly barely
on, with her cleavage emphasised. Whereas her pouty
lips and wide eyes give her a very young look.
According to studies done on this phenomena is has a lot of genetic basis. Having a young mate means that she has a long period of feritility and health ahead of her, so appearing young is very sexually appealing. However it is actually about a 50-50 mix of childlike and mature features that has proven most attractive in photo comparison studies. The mature features mark the women as being sexual mature.
People with 'baby' features also tend to be viewed as innocent and more likeable, and are less likely to be punished harshly for any indiscretions. This treatment from those around them can also lead to those with baby-faces playing up to this impression, acting more childlike to garner an even stronger reaction.


Architecture vs Fashion Design Thinking

Working on my fashion film with two architecture students is opening my ideas to the huge differences in the style of design thinking that encouraged by the different faculties.
In the context of our film they seem to be drawn more to viewing figures from a distance, to capturing the entire scene at all times and having the mood set by the landscape surrounding. As a fashion student I find I'm drawn more to including extreme close-ups of the details of the movement and overall to have the figures filling a fair portion of the shot.
They focus on the main structure and concept of the idea, whereas I find myself wanting to concentrate more on the practicalities on how it will be done.
When it comes to actually styling the "models" for our scene they can see the importance of how the clothing shapes the persona but when I brought up the importance of make-up and accessories to complete the look, they seemed surprised that it would be necessary. The comparison that occurs to me with this is having the completed building and then bringing in the interior designer to finish off the look. Buildings are too big and complex to have one person (or small group of people) concentrate on every detail of its entirety; whereas in fashion we design the 'building', construct it, decide what sort of people will live in it (at least in the short term) and then design the "paint", "curtains" and "garden" that will finish off the look of it.

These differences have made for some communication challenges, but hopefully will lead to a stronger final product.


Beautiful Clothes, Huge Age Difference

In class today we watched Sabrina, and while the Givenchy clothing Audrey Hepburn wears as the title character are absolutely beautiful, what really caught my attention was the incredibly age difference between Audrey at 25 and Humphrey Bogart playing her lover at 55 (he in fact died 3 years after the film was released) and how incredibly uncomfortable seeing them kissing makes me feel. I'm sure a lot of it is that she was my age and he was about the same age as my father.

And it isn't just this film where she is paired with a much older man (I'm counting any age gap of more than 20 years, old enough to be her father), the situation is the same in Roman Holiday, Funny Face, War and Peace, Love in the Afternoon, My Fair Lady and Charade. It was only in her mid-30s that she began to get paired with men of a closer age.
According to Pamela in our lectures this was a deliberate decision by film companies to emphasise her youthful looks and childlike figure. She would almost always play the "girl", not  in control of her emotions or her circumstances.

In the example of Sabrina she grows up enamoured with the younger of a pair of brother, an irresponsible playboy who at the beginning of the film has already had 4 failed marriages. Upon seeing him romancing his next girl she tries to kill herself. She is rescued and sent to Paris to go to cooking school  to forget him.
She comes home with a new wardrobe and outlook on life (supposedly), and as soon as he sees her looking beautiful and begins to try and romance her (despite being engaged), she goes back to mooning over him.
The older brother sees this and the disruption it would cause in a business plan he has with the fianc├ęs father, and so decides to seduce her away.
Audrey realises he is doing this, and cries about being seduced away from her love, but seems completely incapable of doing anything about it. She is the little girl, being controlled by these older men. And she just accepts it.
While I have grown up in a very different time with different social norms, that time period also portrayed strong woman in other films. I just find that it makes me angry that she is so used and controlled by them and just accepts this as her role.


Diamond Lovers and Further Essay Thoughts

We briefly discusses our essay topics in our tutorial today and I believe I have decided on my Nana idea. I'll have to trawl the library to try and find some books to help me with it. I do find it interesting how the manga and anime use actual Vivienne Westwood clothing when dressing the members of Black Stone, I'll have to rewatch the movie to make sure it also features them. And I need to check up on the designers worn by Hachi in all three mediums so as to try and keep my essay more balanced between the two, rather than just focussing on the punk aspects.

After watching Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  again and the iconic "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend" musical number, we were shown Madonna's "Material Girl" music video which is heavily based on it. While looking for image stills from the original movie I found links to many other versions featuring either the song or the look of that original scene. I find the comparison between them all quite interesting to look at, especially looking at the very different women trying to step into Marilyn Monroe's shoes in taking on this role.

First the original clip:

Now the more modern renditions:
-The Muppet Show w/ Carol Channing (who played the part in the Broadway musical) & Miss Piggy

- Madonna's Material Girl

- Kylie Minogue in a live performance  for the opening of 20th Century Fox's Australian Studios

- Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge

- Beyonce in the ad for Giorgio Armani's fragrance 'Diamonds'

- and most recently w/ Kristen Bell and Christina Aguilera in Burlesque

The huge diversity kinda has me feeling a bit like this.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Today's film was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a rule to live by my grandmother Anabelle began teaching me from before I can remember.

Particularily interesting about this film is the contrast between the types of females portrayed by Marilyn Monroe (Lorelei Lee) and Jane Russel (Dorothy Shaw) and how they are costumed to fit these roles.

Dorothy is the tough, sassy, no-nonsense brunette best friend of Lorelei, the sexy, sweet, innocent gold-digger. Even in the same dress they are very different girls.

In almost every scene Lorelei wears more fitted, brightly coloured, overtly sexy garments; whereas Dorothy is dressed in darker, slightly more conservatively cut clothes, that emphasise her height and broad shoulders. Lorelei is the sort of girl you can't help but like and whose wide eyes beg you to take care of her. Dorothy is much tougher and you can tell she can definitely take care of herself.

There is one scene near the end where Dorothy dresses up as Lorelei to rescue her from some trouble she's gotten herself into and you suddenly realise quite how tall Jane Russell is. She towers over the men surrounding her and looks oddly masculine. This just goes to show how carefully crafted each stars persona was by the studios of Old Hollywood, the entire look is suited to them and seeing Russell dressed up as the curvaceous innocent just doesn't quite work. (Of course it might be because she oversells the act)


Green Dresses, Old South Racism and Analysing Costume

As part of my winter school course a uni (Fashion and Film) we need to keep a blog charting our impressions of and ideas inspired by the lectures and tutorials.

Our first day was mainly a discussion of what the course will be about and encouragement to begin working out what we want to write our essays about. One part of the tutorial I  found particularly intriguing was a chart drawn up breaking down a way to analyse the use of a particular costume in film (or I suppose in a stage production or on TV).
I found it fairly amusing that the list under Spectacle is one of the first things we learnt in First Year fashion design, though thinking about it that makes sense as like costume designers we are aiming to create a persona. The difference being only that our specific goal is to use this fantasy to sell our garments, and the costumers is to further the narrative of the story.
This is looked at in some depth in our first reading (Screen Style - Sarah Berry) which discusses the development of star style in the 1930s. With the advent of ready-to-wear clothes female movie stars were used as "types of women" to break up the huge variety of clothing now available in to more easily saleable groupings. Having this based on actual people who would continue to be in more movies wearing different garments added an obsolescence to the garments, for soon one would have to buy the next new garment to continue to be like that star. This of course continues today in pretty much every fashion magazine around.

For my essay I've had 3 different ideas: the simplest stems from my fascination with the 90s fashion style portrayed in Clueless and how the films release marked a shift in youth style from the grunge of the early 90s to a more preppy look. I do fear that this is a bit too simple and doesn't allow for enough analysis to fill a 2500 essay.

The second is to look at Bruce Willis in films like Die Hard and  the Fifth Element  as an archetypal man, the smart-arse tough guy and how that is added to through his look and how that is fairly standard in most of his action movies and how this would influence the fashion look for the more masculine male. However, much as I love Bruce Willis action movies, I don't find myself passionate enough about mens' fashion (especially more masculine fashion) to sustain me through writing an essay about him.

My third idea is to look at the Japanese manga, anime, film Nana and it's two different types of girls as shown by the two Nanas. Particularly Ai Yazawa's use of Vivienne Westwood fashion for the punk-rock Nana and how this could perhaps have brought greater awareness of the brand to a new group of girls, ones attracted by the more girly Nana. I also found that the controlled Star system in Japan reminded me a lot of the Star system of classic Hollywood. I am worried that I might be taking on too much with this topic and that I might find it fairly hard to find academic texts to reference.

Each day after our tutorial we return to the lecture room to watch a film, preceded by some discussion of the context and relevance of it. Our first film was almost half of Gone with the Wind (it's 4 hours long and only is allowed out of the UTS library on a 2hr loan). The two most memorable and striking gowns in this film are both green, the first from the big BBQ and the second I haven't seen but have been told is made from curtains.

Our lecturer Professor Pamela Gibson mentioned that their is a long history of iconic green dresses in movies and this got me thinking about some examples I remember from my short film viewing lifespan.
Anyone care to guess where the following examples are from?


Star Trek Celebrities

Came home from work to my roommate watching Star Trek: Next Generation. So I end up watching as well, while pestering with questions about what on earth is going on. As part of the plot these ugly, snake-like aliens are introduced called Cardassians, which I keep hearing as Kardashians. On googling this amusing comparison I found that I'm not the only one who noticed it.
On the website 'Overthinking It' they used this picture for a very nerdy article on whether or not Cardassian females have nipples.... I'm going to assume yes based on evidence provided by their earth representatives the Kardashian sisters.

"Cardassians are snake-like in every sense of the word.  They are manipulative, with metaphorical “forked-tongues.”  They have scaly skin.  They like the dark and love moisture.  One of their favorite pastimes involves sitting on piping hot rocks, possibly to raise their body temperature."

I'm probably just being bitchy, but comparing the two does make me giggle.


A(nother) Promise to Post Religiously

So since my last post 7ish months ago I have moved out into my own apartment!! Well it's really only half mine, since I'm sharing with my darling friend and fellow costume party devotee Hamish. Which totally gives me an idea for what I can do with this post.

My goal for the coming year is to go to MANY more costume parties and dress up in a completely over the top way for every one of them. And to inspire me I'm going to post all the photos I have of the various costumes I've put together over the years.

Nov 2010 - Under the Sea Housewarming
~Algae Covered Rock~
Jun 2010 - Random 80s Hangout
Accompanied by Maggie Thatcher and Cyndi Lauper
Jun 2010 - Disney 22nd
~Ariel's Sister~ 
Accompanied by a Gypsy
Mar 2010 - Japanese 21st
~Cat Girl Maid~
Oct 2009 - Masquerade 21st
~Raven Masquerade~
Sept 2010 - Japanese 21st
~Glam Loli~
Jul 2009 - General Costume 21st
~Pirate Wench~ 
Accompanied by Pimp and Blue Fairy

Feb 2009 - Tim Burton 21st
~Sally the Ragdoll~

Jun 2009 - Alice in Wonderland 21st
~Alice Grown-Up~
Jan 2009 - Mexican 21st
Nov 2008 - Clue Murder Mystery Party
~Miss White the Maid~
Oct 2009 - Halloween
~the Black Dahlia~
So that's 12 costumes in almost exactly 2 years. My goal will be to try and do that many again, only all in this year. Yay Challenge!