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I didn’t publish my usual Oscar blog and for that I apologise; I had the wedding mentioned in the previous blog to go to the next day and I didn’t think it polite to turn up bleary eyed and ready for a nap by the time it got to the speeches. However during my flit through all the red carpet dresses, it did occur to me that while I was as fascinated as ever with who wore what, the cinematic characters portrayed by these actresses were for once just as interesting.
Both on the big and little screens, there have been some deliciously meaty roles for women, and not just the twenty somethings either. Big Little Lies started it all off for me, followed by the Crown and the under-hyped Feud. But it was at the cinema that I really sat up and took notice (without even spilling my wine for once – they really shouldn’t allow me to take it in). I was captivated by the stories these women told and the icing on the cake was that there was so much sartorial stimulation too. From Frances McDormand in her old school boiler suits to Margo Robbie in her over embellished ice skating dress (did anyone else momentarily think of Jayne Torvill as a style icon based solely on her Bolero costume back in the day?), the costumes encapsulated the time, the person, the state of mind. As clothes tend to do, whether or not we intend them to.
So let’s look, as they say, at some of the achievement in costume design. And instead of the usual Oscar red carpet line up, let’s focus on the roles which got them there and the clothes which made us love them even more:
As if having Meryl Streep (the only multi award winning actress referred to as ‘overrated’ by a sitting president – kudos, it takes effort to be overrated) playing a 1970’s woman who owns a newspaper wasn’t exciting enough, La Streep does it in a procession of fabulously sensible middle aged outfits. High necklines and sofa prints are accessorised with Margaret Thatcher hair and the Queen’s handbags and we know exactly where
we’re at. Until that is, Meryl’s character Katharine Graham hosts a party in a show stopping kaftan and all of a sudden there is hope. Never has an unflattering triangular piece of fabric which lends itself to changing into your bikini on the beach, been so cool. I’m almost, almost tempted to get myself one just so I can start lounging about on my sofa at 6pm sipping cocktails.
The Darkest Hour
Frankly, I went to this film post Gary Oldman’s Oscar win to learn a little something about Winston Churchill about whom I knew embarrassingly little. I loved it, was surprised at how fascinating I found my impromptu history lesson on a Thursday afternoon and moreover, the unexpected wardrobe parade courtesy of Kristen Scott Thomas. Hold the kaftan, I thought, I’m over expensive hippy chic, pill box hats and nipped in jackets are where it’s at now. Kristen of
course is built like a twig but like Meryl, she makes being over fifty years old look like something to look forward to. I’ll take that and whatever she’s wearing.
Yet another character based on a real person and true events, former Olympic class skiier turned poker game host Molly Bloom gives a master class on how to fuse power dressing with slightly brassy sass should this be a look you ever wish to emulate. Jessica Chastain is a curvy non-stick insect type and yet she does the
cleavage and statement necklaces combo without looking like a hooker – no mean feat – I’m taking notes.
And so to the youngest character of the bunch and the loveliest film I’ve seen in years. This reminded me so much of my teenage years, I wish I could go back and do them again but with a better wardrobe. Christine (or Lady Bird as she refers to herself) does thrift shop chic beautifully, the pale colours and vintage fabrics managing to emphasise actress Saoirse Ronan’s youth and delicate Irish colouring. I comforted myself
when thinking back to the frizzy bobbed hair and oversized shirts I wore at 17 that nobody looks good in stuff bought from charity shops and then I remembered my friend Clare. Clare looked great in second hand flea-ridden crochet. I did not.
It’s been a great year for escapism via the medium of film at a time when it was never more called for. Here’s to more women in more films saying more good stuff and yes, wearing more clothes. Happy first day of spring everyone!