Steal This Idea!

Due to the absolutely perfect weather in Albany today (after days of wretched heat and humidity), I found myself walking to school. What to wear when it’s 72 degrees? Why a sleeveless shirt and a hoodie, of course. I dug a blue and white striped sleeveless top out of my pile of t-shirts and it occurred to me that I bought it last summer with a very specific vision in mind: “It’s sooo Jean Seberg in Breathless!” Can’t get the mental image? Let me be of assistance. As I take a quick skim through Google images, I find that I’ve actually conflated two of her blouses. This is the first:

seberg 1

And this is the second:

seberg 2

Now all I need is a motor scooter and Jean Paul Belmondo and I’ll be set to run all over Paris looking fabulous. (For the sake of good aesthetics, given the shape of my skull, I’ll pass on Seberg’s haircut.) Is the power of the shirt such that I can honestly confuse Albany with Paris?! Now that’s a powerful fashion image!

All of this makes me wonder: how is it possible that no one has created an entire clothing line based on iconic costumes? Sure, Michael Kors (and everyone else on the planet) has done a version of Hepburn’s LBD from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. That’s only a half-step. I don’t mean some sort of vague homage, wherein a designer picks a single image of Talitha Getty for inspiration. I mean an entire line of nothing but copies of those instantly recognizable instantiations of sartorial brilliance. Examples? So glad you asked! Fall line 2007: all Edith Head for Hitchcock, including Kim Novak’s gray suit from Vertigo, Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Janet Leigh’s driving outfit from Psycho (alright, this last one is a bit creepy). Spring line 2008: gamines and divas. Audrey’s bohemian turn in Funny Face, any of Joan Crawford’s suits with the linebacker shoulder pads, Ann Margaret in Viva Las Vegas, Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. Resort 2008: Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai.

The power of fashion simulacra is nothing to be scoffed at. As much as many of us would like to forget the desperate, slavering desire for a lace glove circa 1986 as a way of accessing a part of the early Madonna aura, that phenomenon moved thousands of units of a truly hideous accessory. Imagine what could be done with chic little outfits instead. Despite recent efforts by Diane von Furstenberg and the CFDA to create legislation enabling the copyright of designs, no such bill yet exists. The field of phashion phantasy is wide open, enterprising young designers.

*original images to be found here and here.

3 thoughts on “Steal This Idea!

  1. Examples? So glad you asked! Fall line 2007: all Edith Head for Hitchcock, including Kim Novak’s gray suit from Vertigo, Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Janet Leigh’s driving outfit from Psycho (alright, this last one is a bit creepy).

    Wait, Janet Leigh’s is creepy and Novak’s is not? The creepiest of all Hitch’s films, Vertigo. Shiver.

    “It can’t possibly matter to you!”

  2. On second thought, you might be right. My first thought was “Novak doesn’t end up dead!” But she does. At least she wasn’t murdered in the shower? Just slowly transformed into someone else by her controlling boyfriend before “falling” off a roof? (I love that line, BTW. Both an order and an assumption.)

  3. I saw a link to this article on Facebook (Hey, Facebook is good for some things.) Anyway, I remembered reading “Steal This Idea!” a while back and thought you might enjoy it. It’s fashion and theory rolled into one. Fashoery? Theorshion?

    If Foucault spoke in terms of “labels” (Vera Wang) rather than labels, he might have written this. You are what you wear? Maybe, but only until you change outfits and say something completely different about yourself the following day. Then, of course, your own interpretation matters not, particularly when others perceive you however they will… because labels come with labels.

    http://www.popmatters.com/pm/columns/article/46866/too-many-mirrors

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