Monday, November 12, 2012

Michael Kaplan, the stylized stylist - Moods

Brainstorming the wardrobe for films can be fun. One of my favorite costume designers is Michael Kaplan. He designed the costumes for Blade Runner, Fight Club and Flash Dance. He's done many, many other big movies but I love the costuming in the aforementioned films. I love the moods they create, the accents they give to the iconic women characters.

Blade Runner tapped into the Film Noir genre and 1940s influenced tailoring. Kaplan infused everything with a 1980s, dystopian, science fiction aesthetic. The final product works wonderfully. The character of Rachael, with her tightly buttoned up suits and exaggerated shoulder pads, conveyed a woman with the appearance of control but was fragile and secretive.

Daryl Hanna's Pris utilized a wardrobe for a woman that is part punk and street urchin, who's ultimately not human. She uses both her childlike demeanor and sexuality to seduce. She's like an adolescent robot who's lost and vulnerable. Her costumes are expressive and pieced together. Garter belts reveal her (literally) killer thighs.

The women in Blade Runner initially have much to hide. They are felons and created to be laborers on off-planet colonies. They aren't suppose to be living on earth, indulging in human pursuits. Yet they are inclined and yearn to live like the people they were replicated to be like. Their clothing is directly part of their disguises and reflection of their character's story. Rachael, who is unaware that she's a replicant, is fully clothed and lives quietly and works for the company that created her. Pris is confused and on the run, she's aware that her time is running out and her clothes hang seductively in tatters as she lives on the streets. Zhora (the snake woman), is desperate. Enraged and finding herself caught, literally has nothing to hide. It was their bodies that belied their secret and as Zhora runs from Harrison Ford's Deckard she wears only a see-through raincoat.
(*love that Schlitz sign in the Zhora scene)

If I had a tumor I'd name it Marla. I've always liked the Marla character in Fight Club. Caustic and damaged, she was a very present and assertive character. Plucky and ultimately ready for a real relationship, she had a muddy sweetness about her. Michael Kaplan wanted her to appear "alone and birdlike". She's a thrift store princess, her clothes always cut to accent her delicate frame. Unsteady, she teeters on her heels as she runs to attach and involve herself with Edward Norton. Helena Bonham Carter probably wanted to rid herself of the corsets and bonnets of the stuffy English period pieces that she was known for. I love that pink $1 dollar dress that she wanders around in at one point.

Has cotton ever looked sexier?* Michael Kaplan's wardrobe for Flashdance is pretty memorable. During the day Jennifer Beals worked as a steel worker in jeans and flannels but outside of work she changed into her dance wardrobe. She arched and twirled in awesome leotards, leg warmers and the legendary ripped sweatshirt. The costumes for the dancers at the night club she worked at were awesome. Aerobics inspired and swim-suit like they had to be ready for water splashing out of the ceiling : ) When she goes to auditions she seems so rough compared to all the prissy ballerinas. But when she strips down to that black leotard, she is so beautiful and powerful (as was the dancer and body double Marine Jahan). That last audition scene has always stayed with me. I've thought about it before my own auditions.

Blade Runner,  Ridley Scott 1982
Fight Club, David Fincher  1999
Flashdance, Adrian Lyne  1983

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nighttime Thinking

There's daytime thinking and nighttime thinking, and both can be good. But mostly I do like nighttime thinking. When the sun goes down, it just pushes us all more inward. It makes kind of a dream come over you. There are certain things that you start thinking about, that you don't think about in the daytime.

-David Lynch

Thursday, November 1, 2012


When I get into a new project, I really like to go in deep, immerse. I hunker down at the library, watch hours of footage, endless google searches... Understand that objects and media that are directly influential can be sacred, cherished.

Mélodie Mousset made an organic flowing sculpture that was inspired by the tiled pattern of Frank Lloyd Write's Ennis House. Untitled, 2012 (Downward Dog)

The Ennis house is in LA, in Los Feliz. It sits atop a big hill and just sort of appears as you drive up a winding road. I went there once and poked around on my birthday. Mélodie Mousset did me one better by taking a dip in the pool. : )
Awesome. Connecting with one's work. Architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright. Yes.

there's a cute video about it on NOWNESS

Mélodie Mousset: Downward Dog

Mélodie Mousset  -