Celluloid Style

Amy Jane Wood

We select our top moments of sartorial splendour on film.

Wild at Heart (1990)

“This is a snakeskin jacket and for me it’s a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom” proclaims Sailor Ripley in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. And boy, does he know how to wear his statement piece of couture – with tight, tight jeans and a southern drawl smoother than Elvis’, of course. No one messes with shooting, smoking, speed metal-loving Sailor, and no one should EVER tell him he looks like a clown in his snakeskin jacket. In fact, we hope no one has ever made a similar comment to Nicolas Cage, because it’s his jacket, and we all know what happens when Nicolas Cage loses his shit.

Paris, Texas (1984)

Who can forget the haunting image of Jane (Nastassja Kinski) under the sleazy, sullen blue lights of the peepshow room wearing THAT fuchsia, backless dress in Paris, Texas? The soft angora gem – perhaps a nod to her delicate disposition – worked a dream with her high-octane, honey-coloured bob and heartbroken demeanour.

A Bout de Souffle (1960)

Godard once mumbled in his Gallic tones that all you need to make a great movie is “a girl and a gun”. True, but very well-dressed girl at that. Cue Patricia, the doe-eyed flirt flying the proverbial flag for gamine chic and inducing serious outfit envy in A Bout de Souffle. Whether parading up and down the Champs-Elysées in a New York Herald Tribune t-shirt and black cigarette pants or seducing her felonious lover Michel with her delightful fifties dresses, adorable elfin crop and kitten-flicked eyes, Patricia takes the cake for her American spin on timeless Parisian style.

Grey Gardens (1975)

Edie Bouvier Beale, faded socialite and close relation to Jackie O, brings new meaning to the expression “all dressed up with nowhere to go” in the documentary Grey Gardens. Despite the crumbiest of existences, Edie displays a dedication to glamour that is most honourable – dressing to the nines everyday in glossy furs, headscarves and skimpy bathing suits to roam her ramshackle Hamptons house and soak up the East Coast sun in her post-apocalyptic garden.

Lolita (1997)

In the most recent film adaptation of Nabokov’s novel, often described as a “beautiful portrait of a paedophile”, was it Dolores Haze’s playful and provocative style that got Jeremy Irons all hot under the collar? Who wouldn’t be intoxicated by her whimsical look – all frilly crop tops and cherry lipstick, swiss braids and bubblegum. Don’t get us wrong, Lolita was definitely a nubile young woman, but it does make us wonder, would he have fancied her had she been clad like a nun? No, probably not.

Annie Hall (1977)

Woody Allen had such faith in Diane Keaton’s taste that he left her to her own devices to style Annie, which she did with clothes from her own closet. Although a vulnerable and neurotic character, Annie’s clothes said very different; dressed in her staple fedoras, waistcoats and ties, often layering with one piece too many but doing so with brazen confidence, Annie’s masculine and oversized aesthetic screams chutzpah. Proof if you ever needed it that you don’t have to bare flesh and embrace feminine shapes to be sexy. Word up Annie.

Gummo (1997)

With Chloe Sevigny in charge of costume design, Gummo was always going to be a winner. Amongst the wacky denizens of the backwater town of Xenia, Ohio, it’s the efforts of image-obsessed Dot (Sevigny) and her sister Helen that stand out the most. The two pour all their energies into experimenting with extreme sartorial styles; not content with having peroxided their mullets within an inch of their lives, they shave their eyebrows and tape their nipples, creating a strong and captivating look that can only be described as ‘albino chic’.