Monday, 10 November 2008

A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun is a film reflecting changing times in the 1950s. Starring two great screen beauties, Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift in essence is struggle of money and class portraying Clift as someone on the up and torn between his place and that of debutante Angela (played by Taylor). It is quite a gruesome story in terms of Clift's character and actions.

The real significance in terms of costume is the dress Taylor wore in the pool room scene - a strapless boned bodice top with an enormous white tulle skirt over a pale green satin and white violets covering the bust. Edith Head won the Oscar for best costume in the black and white film category and the dress captured the public imagination so much so that every prom had many an Elizabeth Taylor. In fact one could argue that this dress defined a look for proms and brides ever since 1951.

Publicity shot for A Place in the Sun - here Taylor is wearing the other dress designed by Edith Head.
To see the dress view the YouTube video.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Plein Soleil

Now it used to be that on a Saturday if I wasn't working I'd have a leisurely brunch with The Guardian and in the afternoon pop to the shops for a browse and purchase an item or two. A most satisfactory pursuit which would involve a cappuccino along the way. If I'd been styling all week It would be the book shops that got my full attention. Since the start of my MA in Fashion and Film, I've either been working on a Saturday or studying hard.

But yesterday I drove over a 100 miles to Warwick Arts Centre to attend a screening of Plein Soleil (1960)a French film adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr Ripley. Highsmith commented that Plein Soleil was "very beautiful to the eye and interesting for the intellect", although she took issue with the ending.

Adapted and directed by René Clément, Tom Ripley is played by Alain Delon. The screening of this film was in the context of a talk by Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson on fashion and film criminals entitled 'If Looks could Kill'.

Alain Delon is pure evil in the film but equally he is pure male beauty. It is a stark contrast to Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) as Tom Ripley is extremely cold and also the most beautiful person on screen, compared to Minghella's where Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Dickie (Jude Law) are the eye candy.

The talk focused on the typical cinema criminal most notably the gangster and their appropriation of the suit, how a gangster is obvious with their flamboyant use of dress and the vanity associated with dress. The gangster always admires himself in the mirror and will always see his tailor upon release from jail before his 'gal'. The narcissistic quality of dress is integral to Plein Soleil and Alain Delon's portrayal of Tom Ripley, being a French film you can imaging the quality of the style right down to the very Italian Riviera white leather Gucci loafers which are so soft and delectable you can almost feel their quality from the screen. The cinematography and colour is outstanding in this film

Highsmith was disappointed with the film's ending, calling it "a terrible concession to so-called public morality." However Clement had constructed such a cold, evil, narcissistic and beautiful Ripley in Plein Soleil it seemed the creator needed to reign him in.