Monday, July 03, 2006

Clothes on Film -- The Thomas Crown Affair I

The 1968 version of "The Thomas Crown Affair" is a completely unappreciated mid-century classic if only for divalicious star Faye Dunaway's extravagantly silly and totally fabulous high-fashion wardrobe.

When I was searching for photos of the divine Faye in her divine outfits I landed a couple of movie sites containing fan reviews of TTCA I. Some viewers complained that the movie was spoiled by the dated costumes. Twits. TTCA I was a Modern Film, featuring a groovy semi-psychedelic theme song (The Windmills of Your Mind, which I'm sure made more sense when sung in French), correspondingly mind-blowing experimental split-screen photography and a heroine wearing costumes symbolizing the Sexually Liberated New Professional Woman of the Future (SLNPWotF) as conceived by Hollywood circa 1968.

Viewed in this context, Faye's wardrobe makes perfect sense, because of course a SLNPWotF will always have perfect hair, eyeliner and nails and of course she will wear highly structured and perfectly accessorized mini suits, honking-big hats, inch-long false eyelashes and at least 5 lbs of artificial hair at any given moment because not only is the SLNPWotF all business, seduction is her business. Not to mention the fact that by the time those reviewers finished typing "dated" 60 styles were back in again. Balenciaga, Fall 2006, anyone?

There's one dress, the one Faye wears in The Big Chess Game Seduction Scene, that looks like it could have been made yesterday and that people will want to wear forever. It's a white pleated halterneck mini of the type much loved by Rachael Zoe, stylist to Lindsay Lohan and Nichole Richie, not that those wizzened midgets could ever work it the way Faye did. It helps to have a little flesh to fill out the pleats.

But I do have to acknowledge that in 1968 people didn't go see TTCA I for Faye, even though she was fresh off her triumph in "Bonnie & Clyde," (the costumes for TTCA I were designed by Theodora van Runkle, who also did the costumes for "Bonnie & Clyde) they went to see it for the King of Cool, Steve McQueen playing against type as a Boston Brahmin. He appeared wearing a couple of snappy outfits, too. RIP, Steve, ye were too cool to stay with us too long.



Ooh la LOVE.

I saw this movie years ago, and I was so so so so SOOOOOOOO impressed with Faye's costumes (and how modern and cutting edge the style of the film was).

I'm with you, and blogged about you:

Gidget Bananas said...

Why, thank you kristopher!

Lorraine said...

I loved the original Thomas Crown Affair to my the best version. Very chic and classy. Faye's and Steve's clothes were extremely stylish. I can appreciate that the hemlines smacked of the 60's but what a decade.

I would be interested to find out what happened to the clothes as seen in the film. Are they rotting somewhere in a film studios wardrobe? I would love to own one of the outfits.


London England