Archive for the ‘THE MOVIES’ Category
Ahhh I love me a good fashion film. From Lagerfeld Confidential to The September Issue, they bring to life a world that you only usually encounter on a glossy, two-dimensional surface, or for a few fleeting, ephemeral moments during a catwalk show.
The latest is Mademoiselle C, a documentary that follows Carine Roitfeld after she leaves her position as Editor in Chief of French Vogue and starts on her first project, which comes to be called CR Fashion Book.
She leads in this impossibly glamorous, luxurious life, yet you still get to see that this is a real woman with feelings – when she tears up talking about her daughter Julia having a baby and how she hopes she’ll be as good a grandmother to Romy Nicole as her own mother was to Julia, it’s moving and the anxiety she expresses on leaving French Vogue to strike out on her own is completely authentic.
Leaving the comforting familiarity of any job you’ve done for a long time and having to establish yourself as an individual is daunting, and even though she’s living in a different universe to most of us, where money and connections are really no obstacles, such is her honesty and warmth, I found I could identify with her situation.
Carine has a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous, making me feel that if she wasn’t a superglam fashion editrix, she’d just be a fun, jazzy French lady who shamelessly enjoys the finer things in life – food, wine, clothes – who could be your mate’s (sexy-as-F) mum. There are delightful moments of humour in the film – Karl Lagerfeld pushing a pram, Donatella Versace’s totally deadpan expression (or is that the surgery?) on being told by Carine that she has become a grandma.
She has a sweet, genuinely loving relationship with Tom Ford – they’re like an old married couple who understand each other’s thoughts and intentions before they’ve voiced them. She even manages to make monogamy look chic and sexy, having been with the same man for 30 years (without marrying him.)
Some people get angry with fashion documentaries that seem to be all about the surface gloss of the business, but I think they’re missing the point – fashion’s substance IS the superficial. Honestly, I love the artifice and luxurious fantasy of it all. This is a world where, quite literally, your feet don’t touch the grubby ground, instead moving seamlessly from car to carpet, spike heels sinking into the deep, plush pile.
In the show notes to his final collection for Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs wrote “I take pleasure from things for exactly what they are, revelling in the pure adornment of beauty for beauty’s sake. Connecting with something on a superficial level is as honest as connecting with it on an intellectual level.” That’s what makes a fashion film like Mademoiselle C – or Funny Face, or Valentino: The Last Emperor for that matter – such an unashamed pleasure.
I haven’t been to a truly awe-inspiring exhibition for quite some time now – there have been a few goodies at the V&A, namely the Baroque and Diaghilev ones, but nothing ever came close to the Golden Age of Couture (Anna-Marie and I were lucky enough to attend the magical opening night a few years ago and it was probably my most memorable experience in a museum ever – there were macarons!) Until now. Hollywood Costumes is huge, breathtaking and really rather emotional – yes, I actually cried.
Ohhh they tease you, they know how to lure you round and then BOOM! The most breathtaking collection of iconic costumes the world will ever see, all together in one place for the first time. Goths will rejoice at seeing costumes belonging to the Addams family (including Goth Idol Wednesday’s dress and two of Morticia’s!) and I can’t believe I’ve been in the presence of Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress and Charlie Chaplin’s actual real tramp costume AND the Dude’s bathrobe!
Joan Crawford’s blood red gown from The Bride Wore Red was covered in millions of shimmering scarlet beads – that thing was ALIVE, pooling on the floor like liquid blood. I naughtily scuttled past the techy motion capture avatar stuff – borrrring, show me the pretty dresses!
The exhibition’s curators came up with endlessly ingenious ways of conveying the moving pictures that the clothes featured in – dynamic, inventive, witty, making full and imaginative use of technology – script pages turning before your eyes, bringing the clothes back to life, breathing life into hanging fabrics. There are digital ‘mood boards’ and screens facing each other showing an imagined conversation between Tippi Hendren and Edith Head, costume designer on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
So why did I cry? Well, if you’ve watched a film scores of times, seeing some of these costumes is like encountering an old friend – I got this lovely familiar feeling when I found Lucy Honeychurch’s marvellously Edwardian white cotton frock from A Room With a View – that took me right back to afternoons at my friend’s house watching it on VHS, endlessly pausing and naughtily rewinding the bit where the boys dance naked round the pond in the forest and Lucy encounters them!
And when I saw Barbara Streisand’s golden gown from Hello Dolly I immediately welled up – that was a familiar sight from my childhood and was probably one of the triggers for my lifelong love of fashion.
The final room actually made me choke up (again), it was so breathtaking. Seeing the costume Christopher Reeve wore in Superman flying from the ceiling, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers all small and scuffed and faded really brought home to me the vital role clothes have played in creating these characters who are part of our cultural landscape – it’s like looking into the 20th century’s wardrobe.
Tickets are selling out ridiculously quickly, especially at weekends so I would strongly advise you to buy yours NOW.
Hollywood Costume at the V&A runs until January 27, 2013. For more information and tickets visit vam.ac.uk