I recently looked up the Pippi Longstocking books from my basement, her being the one character I remember from my early ages who was a properly badass girl. The other female protagonists used to be more like Pippi’s BFF Annika – a cute compliant girl with blonde hair in a neatly ironed calico dress. It was specially interesting to me bacause I had never before paid conscious attention to the storytelling that was embedded in their costumes.
Pippi’s dress was supposed to be blue but she ran out of fabric so she had to put in some red patches here and there. Her skinny little legs were covered with long stockings, one brown and the other black. She also had shoes exactly twice her size.
I’m assuming that’s because Pippi’s life is rough and messy, with no parents to groom her properly (although with shoes like that – the girl has potential, with ‘bigger shoes to fill’). But because Pippi herself had made that dress exactly as she liked it, to every detail, it wasn’t a style forced upon her by anyone else (e.g. parents). Pippi did whatever she wanted and wore her heart on her sleeve at all times. What you see is what you get. While the “proper ladies” are trained to do their best in concealing their visible faults. Despite Pippi looking like what is conventionally thought of as ‘the homeless look’, I can’t help but see a junior’s declaration of independence.
Or as a homeless guy once told me, “homelessness is the end of your social life, but it’s the beginning of your real life”. Haa, take that.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman costume looks like a fabric of open wounds and old scars. She is so busy being badass she doesn’t have time to get it properly fixed. She has more important things on her mind and she doesn’t really care that much either. It’s like she bought this oufit once and even though it is entirely worn out by now, the outfit has become so integral to her self that she finds it difficult to let go of. It’s the feeling you get with the ‘favourite pair of jeans’ that you keep on repairing and patching up, all the while it becomes more and more you, until there is nothing left of the original. You can buy the exact ones in a new pair but it just isn’t the same, all the familiar wear and tear is gone.
In one of my first drawing classes at the academy, my teacher referenced this lady when giving an assignment to draw our “self-portrait” on a piece of clothing. To this day, when I think about Elle Driver’s clothes in the movie, my brain jaw-drops and starts clapping like a teenager. The maniacal precision with which the clothes are surgically “perfected”, down to the shoes, in a weird way reminds me of beauty surgeon’s drawing on the body – remember Nip/Tuck? – before they start sucking the fat out. Because you can’t find or can’t be bothered to find the clothes you want, it really is more time-efficient to project it on a more-or-less decent canvas yourself.
In a way, I wish this would be the way the world works some day, that you draw on your blank sweater before going out. That we agree to have immediate self-expression on clothes. Fast-fashion is trying to come closer and closer to that immediacy but I’m afraid there has to be some other quantum-leap to reach Elle’s level. I hear Zara has got the production down to 2 weeks, but sometimes we just want it NOW, right?