Style Icon: Cher Horowitz, Clueless

This year Amy Heckerling’s cult rom com Clueless, like, totally turns eighteen. Last Friday Tee’s and Cee’s screened the movie as part of their We Love the 90s Film Fest: four nights of classic 90s flicks at Portobello Pop Up outdoor cinema. When better then to look back at the on-screen style of the main character in Clueless, Cher Horowitz.

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Set in California in the early 90s, the film re-imagines Jane Austen’s Emma. The microcosm of upper class Regency England is replaced by that of a Beverley Hills high school. Here, fashion choices are less about muslin frocks and dashing breeches, more about Calvin Klein minis and backwards caps. But while the situation might be different, Heckerling’s adaptation is pretty faithful to Austen’s story. Fifteen-year-old Cher is just as we would imagine Austen’s eponymous heroine fast-forward 180 years: beautiful, smart, really quite lovable, but also superficial and a touch selfish.

In a world where even the most admired Bettie (hot girl) can derail her social status by hanging out with an inappropriate Barney (unattractive guy), Cher understands the importance of appearance in the popularity stakes. To say she likes clothes is an understatement. The mall is her Mecca and shopping her therapy. When it comes to decisions on what to wear, Cher has it down to a finely-tuned science. In one famous scene, she picks out her outfit for school using a computer which analyses her wardrobe. To the soundtrack of David Bowie’s Fashion, a virtual Cher wearing a yellow tartan skirt suit flashes on the screen, indicating a match made in fashion heaven.

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Like any coming-of-age high school movie worth its salt, Clueless follows the highs and lows of the teenage cast along the way towards personal growth. Scenes linked to clothing and appearance define Cher’s journey to becoming more grounded and self-aware. The arrival of Tai, a skater girl with a predilection for alien cartoons and herbal highs, initially seems to represent the perfect opportunity for Cher to use her love of fashion for the greater good. But Cher’s makeover project goes seriously awry, nearly ruining the mutual attraction between Tai and a fellow pot-head and talented skateboarder, as well as her own love life.

As she starts to realise she’s been as clueless as she originally supposed her protégée to be, Cher takes on a new look that reveals her growing clarity about life and love. Her usual glamorous wardrobe is ditched for more paired-back ensembles, reflecting her aspiration to make-over her soul. Lonely and overwhelmed by self-doubt, Cher is the picture of vulnerability as she cuddles up to her father wearing pink flannel pyjamas. When she takes a leading role on the school’s disaster aid team as the first step towards a more worthwhile life, she even wears jeans while gathering emergency provisions. Yes, jeans.

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Before we experience niggles of shame at mourning the loss of the not-so-nice-but-better-dressed Cher, Heckerling offers up a get-out by showing that Cher is still as fashion-conscious as ever. The final scene sees Cher in full-on babe mode as bridesmaid at the wedding of two sweet but nerdy teachers from her school, her one successful match-making attempt. Working tumbling curls and cappuccino satin, Cher is a vision of fresh-faced beauty that would make even the most benevolent of brides spit feathers.

 

Style Icon: Helen Mirren, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.

Directed by Peter Greenaway and with a truly excellent British cast (Michael Gambon, Tim Roth, Helen Mirren), The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover was released in 1990 to great acclaim and controversy. Helen Mirren plays the glamorous, but neglected Georgina Spica who is married to a notorious and vulgar restaurant owner (Albert Spica – Michael Gambon). The story is intense with Georgina having an affair with a customer of the restaurant ( Michael – played by Alan Howard) right under the nose of her violent and short tempered husband. This passionate intensity is also expressed through the glamorous and almost regal costume design presented in the movie.

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Greenaway was inspired by Baroque painting and had a grand artistic vision with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. To realise the vision he had to rely on the beauty and style of Mirren and also the artistic eye of the fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier. The talented cast, auteur director and fantastic costume designs ensures The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover is an interesting movie to investigate, but it is the beauty and style of Mirren that makes the movie so intriguing and the character of Georgina so iconic. Mirren’s role is to look glamorous and she does this through the extravagant costumes that present feathered head wear, luxurious dresses and dark and proactive lingerie.

She is the antagonist to her husband and she expresses this through style and grace and showing her freedom through her clothing. This is despite her domineering husband desperately trying to control her. Georgina wants to be break away from Albert and this is the catalyst of her affair. However her unabashed and bold style makes Georgina desirable and in control of the situation regardless of what her husband may think.

Style Icon: Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws

The name Richard Dreyfuss is not normally brought up when discussing style icons, no doubt due to the actor starring in such film as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Not the sort of film that pays much attention to fashion. Yet Dreyfuss’ portrayal of Oceanographer Hooper, in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is an example that the guy can dress. Everyone knows the story of Jaws. Set in quiet, seaside town Amity during the summer of 75′. After a late night swim resulting in one of the most famous openers to a film ever, the town is grief stricken by the savage death of a teen girl who was attacked and killed by a shark. Soon the town is in a state of panic with Roy Schedier’s Police Chief Martin Brody demanding the mayor to shut down the beach with little success. Soon it becomes Brody’s task to set out, along with Hooper and crazed fisherman Quint, to find and kill the beast.

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Quint and Brody are equipped with the best lines, one of the most famous being “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” But Hooper spends most of the film with the best outfits. He might spend all of his times with a large, what most people nowadays would deem as cool, pair of spectacles glued to his face, he does have his own signature look. Not surprising for someone with a career as an oceanographer, Hooper’s wardrobe has a strong nautical style to it. Hooper spends the film wrapped up in a weathered old denim jacket, his head covered by a rolled up beanie and carrying a navy duffle bag on his shoulder. Already his outfit is sounding like something Topman would duplicate and I haven’t even mentioned his beard. Hooper pulls off a stylish weather worn, nautical look with ease. So next time someone asks you about style icons remember to mention Richard Dreyfuss.