Saturday, September 26, 2009

Clothes on Film on Project Runway

One of film's great dresses on Gloria Grahame in "The Big Sleep"

Episode 6, Season 6 of Project Runway: the contestants were told to make costumes for films in five different genres, film noir, sci fi, adventure, period, and Western. Or maybe it was to make garments inspired by the costumes for the different film genres. Whatever their challenge, one thing was clear. The contestants don't watch enough movies. Apparently the designers who drew "Western" have never seen a Ralph Lauren collection, either.

Clair Trevor and Dick Powell in "Murder, My Sweet"

Three designers chose film noir as their genre, and heaven only knows what they thought film noir is. Films of that genre (although some critics claim that film noir is a style influenced by German Expressionism, not a genre) are usually about middle or lower class people doing sleazy things, and while gowns make an appearance, usually on the femme fatale or good-bad girl working in a nightclub, the iconic film noir look is simple, a dress or a blouse and skirt. That's the approach costume designer Renie Conley took when, at age 80, she designed the wardrobe for Body Heat, the 1981 movie in the film noir style.

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum in "Out of the Past"

One designer, Althea, kind of got it, although her design looked like the outfit a film noir character would wear after she got thrown out of a speeding car. Irina's design looked like a nightgown, which could have worked if she left off that mysterious white tent. Louise's design was just confused, which surprised me because she usually wears vintage-inspired clothes, which I assume she makes herself. The dress she wore for the judging was great, not that I can find a picture of it online.

Veronica Lake in "This Gun for Hire"

However this Episode did give me an excuse to post pictures of some of my favorite film noir actresses looking good in high contrast. Audrey Totter, shown wearing a fur coat, practically made a career out of being the bad girl who would do anything for a mink.

Lisabeth Scott in "Desert Fury"

Audrey Totter and Ray Milland in "Alias Nick Beal"

I totally didn't get two of the judges' top three picks, Epperson's and Christopher's. Epperson's genre was Western, and his design might work for, say, a punk biker Western. Shootout at Thunderdome, perhaps? Many viewers thought Epperson should have won this episode, but the raggedy-uneven whatever didn't do it for me.

Christopher did a period look. For a vampire wedding; his description. Thank goodness he qualified the character and the look, because then this outfit might fit in, say, a Van Helsing type of period movie. Otherwise it's from a period on another planet. A lot of viewers really liked his garment. I bet they liked Van Helsing, too.

My favorite design was Logan's. He chose action-adventure, and I can actually see Angelina Jolie stuffed into this outfit for Tomb Raider 3. Poor Logan is getting a lot of grief on the interwebs because he's straight and because he designs clothes that look like, well, clothes. Hang in there, Logan! I'm a fan.

NB: I wrote a post about Karen Walker's Prisoner-inspired collection; now IFC is rebroadcasting the entire Prisoner series. This time, I get to see it in COLOR!!! Damn, I'm old.

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