Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Clothes on Film: Who are You, Polly Maggoo? and Blowup

Fashion is pain

In honor of New York Fashion Week, the Sundance Channel rebroadcast many of its fashion films and documentaries. One of them was the 60s film "Who Are You, Polly Maggo?" which had disappeared for quite a while and is now enjoying a revival. Written and directed by William Klein, who had done fashion photography for Vogue, the film has a premise, rather than a plot: a young American model, Polly Maggoo, is being filmed for an interview show. In between shots of her being interviewed are fashion shows, fashion shoots, a subplot concerning a model-obsessed prince, debates about French and American culture, some spy thing that I still don't understand, and visits to the office of a fashion magazine where a Machiavellian Diana Vreeland-like editor reigns.

"What an adorable graveyard!"

But all that business fades to nothing besides the fashion and fashion personalities that make their appearance. The opening sequence, that features models parading around in garments made of knife-edged sheet-aluminum, is famous. There's a hilarious bit about a fashion shoot in a graveyard (Tyra Banks, take notice!) that ends with a shot of a line of models parading across the skyline reminiscent of the last scene of The Seventh Seal. Model Peggy Moffit, Rudi Gernreich's muse, makes an appearance . . .

Far left, white face, black eye makeup, Peggy Moffit

With all that going on, who needs a plot?

By the way, after writing the above, I caught a rerun of season four of America's Next Top Models, and there was a photoshoot of the aspiring models, dressed as the Seven Deadly Sins, posing in a coffin that had been lowered into a hole in the ground. So I guess the graveyard idea has been done. To death. Ha ha.

Photo groupies of the '60s

The divine Peggy Moffit, along with the fierce and fabulous Veruschka, also appears in the iconic 60's film, Blowup (aka Blow Up or Blow-up, I used the IMDB version). Blowup has a plot, more or less. It's about a jaded photographer in Swinging London who inadvertently captures a murder in the background of some landscape photos. The photographer, Thomas, played by David Hemmings, spends a lot of screen time enlarging the photos to see if he really saw what he thought he saw, but he spends even more time bullying models and rolling around on the floor of his studio with underaged girls (albeit underaged girls wearing, for a while, awfully cute 60's shifts and flat shoes). Unfortunately, it's obvious that there's only a story at all because Thomas is a completely a creature of film. If he acted like a normal person and, say, locked his door after the suspect appeared in his flat the first time, or called the police when he found the dead body, the whole story wouldn't have been longer than 15 minutes, well, maybe 20 with the ménage à trois.

Anyhoo, here's a link to Peggy Moffit's MySpace page, which has a clip of her scene, and a link to a blog with some great fashion stills. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Great post! I love this film!