Thursday, April 28, 2011

[Un]Discovers: Clothes On Film

Unlike other movie review websites, Clothes On Film has a very unique point of view to introduce the audience to different movies by concentrating on the costumes. I still remember I encountered this site when I was reading the news about The Black Swan costume controversy and ever since that day this site has been on my radar. Today, I am happy to interview Chris Laverty, the brain behind Clothes On Films.

Black Swan : Amy Westcott Interview

Hi Chris, it's a pleasure to be able to interview you, especially your site is so famous right now! So, would you mind to give a brief description about yourself?
I’m a writer. I’m no journo, as just about everything at Clothes on Film is written with an editorial. I like to interpret rather than merely copy out a list of facts. My background is varied; not Jason Bourne shady, but I’ve had a few jobs. I’ve spent time on movie sets though I am not a costume designer. This is a passion more than anything else; something I feel compelled to do.

Sherlock Holmes Costume Guide Part 1: Frock Coats & Bustles

Passion is always the key to motivate you to create something great. Now I am curious, why did you start Clothes on Film? Do you think the audiences have been ignoring the costume element while watching a movie?
Pretty much, yes. Well, more that they had been ignoring contemporary costume in film, not by malicious intent but because costume design as an art form was, and still is, woefully misunderstood. I’m sure plenty of people do not come anywhere near Clothes on Film because they have no interest in ‘fashion’. This is a shame because fashion and costume are mutually exclusive.

Grease: "The Pink Ladies' Wear It Well 

To me, I think costumes do help to enhance a film and if you take this element out, for sure people will feel the film is lacking something. From your point of view, do you think costumes in the movies influence how people dress in the real world?
Sure, but nowhere nearly as much as they used to. I find it is mainly men that take inspiration from the screen, too. Interestingly I get far and away more questions to Clothes on Film about where to purchase period clothing for contemporary dress than any other. It’s about buying into the lifestyle a particular film proffers. Although, that said, I doubt there will ever be a movie as influential on mainstream fashion as Wall Street (1987). Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick created that wide shouldered jacket, vivid braces with contrast collars/cuffs shirt look based on what she had interpreted on visits to the real Wall Street before making the film. Then came the paradox; that the look she created based on what brokers were already wearing suddenly became the only thing for them to wear. When you think about it, that is an incredible marriage of art and fashion.

Basic Instinct: Sharon Stone, Devil in a White Dress

That is an interesting example that I have never thought about it until now! I think Ellen has set the standard "costume" for people whom work in the Wall Street area.  From all the movies you have watched last year, which movie you think has the best costumes? Why?
Haha, that is the sort of question I could have a different answer for every day! For now though I’ll say Jeffrey Kurland’s costumes for Inception. Not only were they the perfect interpretation of character, but also essential for reading the narrative (remember how fervently the children’s’ clothing at the end of the film was analysed?). Plus he designed and made every one of the main characters’ costumes from the ground up. It is frankly disgusting that he did not get an Academy Award nomination.

Sean Connery in Dr. No: The Template For 007

Yes, I have to agree on this. I am totally in love with all the clothes Joseph Gordon Levitt wear in the movie! Is there a major difference between movie costumes and fashion house's ready to wear collections? If so, what is it?
Utterly and completely different. Fashion is the expression of identity – body adornment essentially. Costume (on film) is the representation of character and/or plot. It is discourse. This can either function as separate to the narrative or be driven by it. Fashion and costume are not interchangeable, though they can be combined.

Inception: Jeffrey Kurland Costume Q&A

I do hear a lot of fashion designers like to take reference from movies but not the other way around and I think mainly because, like you say, ready to wear is not the representation of a character/ plot. Last but not least, what movies are you most excited to see this year? Is there any interesting interview coming up on Clothes on Films?
I’m excited about all the biggies, but always look forward to those sleeper hits of which we currently know nothing about. It will be fun to see what Jenny Beavan does for Sherlock Holmes 2. I suggested she put Holmes in 1910 era Levi Springbottom denim pants this time around! Lots of interviews in the pipeline but if I tell you about them I’ll jinx it. Just keep popping by the site; hopefully you won’t be disappointed!

Belle de Jour: Sex and Alienation
Now let's get to know Chris on a more personal level by reading these trivia questions!

Tea or Coffee?
Hot chocolate. I used to drink a bucket of coffee a day, but was dipping more than a rollercoaster.

Country of Pop Music?
Morricone – sorry I really should just pick one of your answers.

Alexander McQueen or Givenchy?
Givenchy – Audrey Hepburn in a sack dress sums them up perfectly.

Mars or Skittles?

PC or Mac?

The Fortune: Costume Guide – Dressing Soft For Murder

Red or Blue?
Blue, especially in suits.

New York or Los Angeles?
Los Angeles – awesome for vintage finds.

Comedy or Drama?

Inception or The Dark Knight?
Inception, every time.

Winter or Summer?
Winter – I love the snow. Plus, winter fashion can look good on everyone, dahling.

Thank you so much to Chris for answering my questions and I can't wait to see what interviews he has in store for us on the site. Make sure you click on the photos to go to the corresponding entries (trust me, they are very interesting!). All photos are courtesy of Clothes On Film.


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