Unordered List

Sunday 22 April 2012

Capitol Couture in The Hunger Games.

It's a little late for a review of the Hunger Games movie itself, so in summary: I thought it was an excellent adaptation, and the few things I did have a problem with (too much exposition from the Games commentators; too many important and/or traumatising details cut from the book) were understandable for reasons of making the film accessible to a wider audience. I've had a few people ask me if I'm going to write about the costumes, and yes, I'm finally getting round to it, although you may not all agree with the result. For a film adaptation of a book that has so much to say about fashion, vanity, and the immediate visual differences between social classes, the costumes in The Hunger Games could've been a lot better.
I'm not suggesting moment that the Capitol costumes didn't look fantastic. It's the background concept I have a problem with. Effie Trinket, the first person we see from the Capitol, was perfect. Her purpose is to illustrate the huge chasm between Katniss' life in the impoverished District 12, and the thoughtlessly cruel frivolity enjoyed by the people who dwell in the Capitol. Even though Effie has more contact with people from the worker districts than most Capitol citizens do, she still has very little understanding of how they live or the fact that the Capitol is so widely loathed and resented. There's no possibility of any common ground between her and a girl who has to illegally hunt with a bow and arrow in order to save her family from starvation.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Disturbing viral marketing for Prometheus: Happy birthday David, from Weyland Industries.

Previously: The Costumes of Alien, Part 2: Space suits, retrofuturism, and Prometheus.

I'm not having the vapours over Prometheus the way I currently am about The Avengers' pre-movie shenanigans, which is probably just as well as Prometheus doesn't come out until June. I am, however, quietly impressed by the direction their viral marketing is taking. These days most sci-fi/geek-oriented movies use viral videos and ARG sites alongside traditional marketing, but quality varies.
In the case of Prometheus, Guy Pearce's 2023 TED Talk (in character as the CEO of Weyland Industries, an early precurser to the Weyland-Yutani corporation of the Alien Quadrilogy) was an intriguing turn, especially since Prometheus takes place decades after 2023. Likewise, the new David8 robot ad from Weyland Industries features one of Prometheus' main stars, but doesn't seem like it's going to appear in the movie itself.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Sheguang Hu, and why The Hunger Games' Capitol should've looked more like Beijing Fashion Week.

Beijing Fashion Week rarely makes it to mainstream American/British fashion magazines and blogs, and coverage outside of highlight galleries seems to be nigh-on impossible to find. Which is too bad, because if you enjoy truly out-there couture (which I do) then Beijing is streets ahead of Paris at the moment. Although designers like McQueen are still regularly turning out excellent couture shows, I've found that many of the major fashion houses on the London/Paris/Milan/NYC circuit have been noticeably lacklustre over the last few years.
photos from here.
Autumn/Winter 2012/13
Last month's Sheguang Hu show in Beijing was gothic and alarming, and filled with expressive and over-the-top millinary.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Pre-Movie Avengers post: Loki's costumes, armour, and image-consciousness.

Related: Movie Costumes I Have Loved: Thor.

I suppose I could apologise for making another Avengers-related post, but I ain't sorry. Nope. I need to get rid of all my Avengers excitement somehow, otherwise I'll just run around in little circles waving my hands in the air until the top of my head comes off and steam comes out of the hole. (<--- actual example.)

So here we go: Hello, Tailor's first ever pre-movie costume review, brought to you by the many clips and trailers Marvel has helpfully provided in order to whip fans into the maximum possibly frenzy prior to the movie's release. Thankfully none of these trailers contain any information about what actually happens in the film itself, so this blog (and my brain) will remain gloriously spoiler free until April 26.
Picture of Loki and Thor grinding Get Low by Lil Jon, from The Art Of Thor.
Thanks to my recent introduction to Game Of Thrones, I had armour on my mind as I perused the various Marvel teasers. For the most part, the battle costumes in Game of Thrones are quite closely modeled on the kind of medieval armour we expect to be worn by jousting knights, and is reasonably practical. The armour we saw in Thor is pretty much the opposite -- showy, sparkly, and inspired by comicbook illustrations drawn by people who were making it up as they went along. Which is totally fine! The fact that the costume designers for Thor managed to make the Asgardian clothes look even remotely like something worn by actual people in real life is enough for me. Thor and Loki are both alien princes. For all we know, the non-metallic bits of their armour are laser-proof and knitted from meteor rocks, as opposed to being the slightly cheap-looking pleather they appear to be. Haters to the left.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Game Of Thrones: Unwashed Northerners, royal conspiracies, and decapitations all round.

This post contains no plot spoilers.

I began watching Game Of Thrones recently -- mostly because I was promised cute baby dragons, and I love cute baby dragons -- and I think this poster more or less sums it up:
No one is safe. This show has the highest body-count I've ever encountered. Luckily I didn't get very attached to any of the characters until several episodes in, thus saving myself a lot of decapitation-based heartache. Because the folks of Westeros really like their decapitations. It's like head-severing is their national sport or something (their second-favourite activity being incest).

The costume design in Game Of Thrones doesn't blow my mind, but it definitely fulfills my criteria of costuming following characterisation. The source material itself is a real gift: a combination of historical and fantasy-based costumes, the two main costume design crowd-pleasers both in terms of awards and audience recognition. I haven't read the books so I can't speak to the authenticity of the show's visuals, but my guess is that the show differs significantly from George R. R. Martin's original vision. There isn't a great deal of overlap between costume/fashion experts and revered High Fantasy greybeards.

Monday 2 April 2012

If there's no such thing as a vintage Captain America venereal disease PSA then I'm going to be so disappointed.

One of my favourite parts of Captain America: The First Avenger is when Steve Rogers, clad in a delightfully low-budget proto-version of the "real" Captain America costume, goes on tour with a chorus of USO girls and stars in public service films urging all patriotic Americans to invest in War Bonds. Not only is Steve Rogers unendingly adorable in the role of bashful-yet-enthusiastic wartime mascot, but this one small montage leaves room for all sorts of great backstory elements: The urban legend of Captain America having punched Hitler in the face (he did, multiple times -- onstage), the idea of the comedically naiive Steve Rogers going on tour with a bunch of chorus girls in sexy outfits (it'd be like Some Like It Hot, except with superhero outfits!), the development of Steve's own ideas about the press and what it means to be a public icon... There are just so many possibilities! Actually, I think you should just watch the "Star Spangled Man" sequence, which caused me to grin so widely when I saw it in the cinema that I thought the top of my head was going to come off.
I only saw the movie once, but rewatching that clip I noticed something that for the 1940s, is pretty damn awesome: Cap's backing guys -- his unit, I guess -- is desegrated. I don't know enough about Captain America in general to comment on how that relates to comicbook canon, but I find it pretty unlikely that WWII propaganda films would be that liberal. Integrated units were still illegal in those days and I don't think I've ever seen a British or American military information poster featuring a non-white soldier. So I'm just going to go ahead and assume that Steve Rogers specifically asked for there to be some non-white guys marching alongside him in those PSA movies because he loves freedom and hates racism. (Seriously, I can't help but be fascinated with the idea of how Steve Rogers is going to react society -- and politics -- in 21st century America, and hope that the Avengers movie at least touches on this.)