Site Specifics: Clothes on Film
By Violet Lucca
Early on in Ed Wood, the irrepressible director reads a savage opening-night review aloud to his cast, and chirpily emphasizes a bit of backhanded praise about the “realistic” costumes. Clothes on Film upends the well-established critical tendency to either make a punchline out of this component of filmmaking, or simply take it for granted.
Drawing on the wealth of precise vocabulary available to both fashion and film, the rewarding site’s diverse stable of contributors write about both disciplines in an articulate manner that is intelligible to a person versed in neither. In a stunning analysis of Get Carter (“Killer Suit”), site founder Chris Laverty grounds Michael Caine’s blue mohair suit in an intricate cultural-historical matrix, effortlessly relating several decades’ worth of trends in men’s fashion and textiles, and offers a deft description of just how the suit interacts with the actor’s physicality and movement: “When Carter slips on the heavy, rather taut jacket for his brother Frank’s funeral it practically slots into place.”
In interviews tied to new releases, costume designers share pre-production mock-ups (the half-drawn, half-Photoshopped designs for Sharen Davis’s Django Unchained costumes are both beautiful and hilarious) and research methods, revealing the large and small ways in which their craft is influenced by stars and directors. Fashions may come and go like the seasons, but the value of Clothes on Film will live on.