"Film has always captured my imagination. Even as a child, I was quick to lose myself in its rich worlds. During my grad school days and in the years after when I was modeling, it took on an especially intimate significance. What better way, after all, to recharge after the latest bout of exams or keep myself company during those twilight hours of jet lag? But all of those hours in front of the silver screen did more than entertain: film has been an education in the world of style—and in the art of creating stories through clothing. Some movies continue to shape my eye and I would love to share them here as essential viewing:"
Vertigo (1958)—Hitchcock’s tale of obsession cemented his reputation as a master of psychological suspense. But Kim Novak’s star-making turn as the enigmatic heroine (or is it femme fatale?) steals the show every time. Her transformation into the paradigmatic Hitchcock blonde is as mesmerizing as it is thrilling. So is her impeccable wardrobe of skirt suits, couture coats, and croc handbags that all but defined American aristocratic polish.
Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966)—William Klein’s satirical look at the fashion industry is worth noting for both its sharp wit and its over-the-top costumes. Following a 20-year-old rising model through the pitfalls of the industry, Maggoo is like a Henry James novel…on acid. The lush black and white cinematography creates a hypnotic pop universe—while those metallic runway looks (many inspired by the creations of Paco Rabanne) seem especially in sync with this season's must-have alloys.
Blow-Up (1966)—Rare is the cinematic gem that captures the zeitgeist of a generation. But that could certainly be said of Michelangelo Antonioni’s murder mystery set against the psychedelic underground of swinging London. Look for cameos by David Bailey and Verushka—but pay special attention to Vanessa Redgrave in those knit turtlenecks, A-line skirts, and Op Art plaids. By the time early fall comes around you'll want to wear little else.
Belle de Jour (1967)—Like many of my generation, my first encounter with Saint Laurent was through Luis Bunuel’s surrealist tale of a strict housewife who turns call girl by day. The late master provided the costumes for Catherine Deneuve and her impeccable haute bourgeois chic remains as fresh today. The genius lies in how she manages to make dressed up seem positively subversive. Underneath those rounded day coats, tailored sheaths, and block-heel sandals simmers a rebellious sensuality that never fails to provoke.
Possession (1981)—Okay, fine. Technically this is a somewhat obscure horror movie starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill as a married couple falling apart in Cold War-era Berlin. Directed by the enigmatic Andrzej Zulawski, the film creates a dream-like atmosphere that inspired the likes of David Lynch. Just as noteworthy, however, is Adjani’s wardrobe: chic utilitarian shirt-dresses, wide legged trousers, and midi-skirts in rich shades of Yves Klein blue. These were chosen for symbolic reasons, but I would snap them up today as timeless staples.
The Hunger (1983)—Before Bella and Edward, there was David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve as star-crossed immortals trying to find love anew in the sleek, New Wave '80s. This is vampire romance for grown ups—with styling to match. Instead of low-rise jeans and high-school hoodies, we're seduced by sharp-shouldered suits and sculpted dresses.
Heathers (1988)—I will admit it: I have worn a scrunchy. But it was only while channeling my best Veronica Sawyer! This dark comedy of high school intrigue certainly appealed to my inner rebel (I was, after all, never one of the golden-haired Heathers). So did Winona Ryder's penchant for bad boy rockers.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989)—Peter Greenaway enlisted Jean Paul Gaultier to costume this tale of greed, gluttony, and decadence. The results are a marvel—perfectly carried off by Helen Mirren, who was flaunting that infamous rocking body at its prime. The sumptuous scenery and clandestine love affair set against gourmet diner courses will assure you never look at comfort food the same again.
JUNE 10,2014, LEILA YAVARI | CULTURE NEWS/ Photo: Everett Collection
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