Blue Jasmine (2013)

February 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

There are some films that deserve a lot more than a worthy analysis of costume and set design on this blog. Blue Jasmine is one of them. Not that I simplify any of my posts, because I do have a habit of getting into details, details, details. But for me Blue Jasmine greatly caught my attention and became my favourite movie to come out of 2013.

Cate Blanchett stars as the eponymous Jasmine.

Cate Blanchett stars as the eponymous Jasmine.

The titular character Jasmine is a woman who met and married her way into a prodigal life of wealth, elitism and little responsibility. Throw into that a philandering husband with a penchant for shady business deals and an already fractured mental state, and thus the story of Jasmine unfolds. Writer and director Woody Allen cleverly intersects the lives, relationships and anxieties that surround her, all hanging in the balance of her own psychoses. Allen is gifted at creating female characters with distinctive complexities of human nature- just take a look at his back catalogue of films such as Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Annie Hall (to name but very few) for reference.

Alec Baldwin portrays her shady husband.

Alec Baldwin portrays her shady husband.

I adore the casting of Cate Blanchett. Interestingly, Blanchett openly spoke about her own anxieties in taking on such a complex role thinking that at any second during the filming process she would be fired by Woody for not being good enough. I can only say her worries paid off! What a riveting performance. The total embrace of her character’s manic periods are so engrossing and at times disturbing as we all witness Jasmine’s descent into utter decline from a woman who is desperately holding onto a calm and elegant facade, to a full on ‘ready- to- pop’ balloon of  mental collapse. I vividly remember watching it in cinema and actually seeing and hearing other audience member’s reactions of unease and gasps of shock as they witnessed this all unfold in front of their eyes.

The very elegant and poised Jasmine.

The very elegant and poised Jasmine.

During one of her mental episodes.

The film almost serves as a cautionary tale on mental decline and neglect.

I love the additional detail in how her wardrobe is instrumental in conveying a poised, elegant and wealthy facade as she wears trouser and skirt suits with ultra feminine and classic details. The state of her makeup is also very intrinsic in conveying her moments of anxiety and breakdown as it is seen looking often disheveled and not intact.

blue jasmineblue jasmine The entire cast work as anchors to Cate’s performance in bringing the story of Jasmine together with such an array of talent. Sally Hawkins is wonderful as her sister Ginger as is the brilliantly cast Bobby Cannavale as Ginger’s perceptive boyfriend Chili. Both of these characters are caught up in the dizzying whirlwind of Jasmine’s past, and especially her present.

Bobby Cannavale as Chili (left) and Max Casella plays his friend Eddie.

Sally Hawkins as Ginger.

Sally Hawkins as Ginger and Andrew Dice Clay as her ex husband Auggie.

blue jasmine

Suzy Benzinger is the mastermind behind the costume design. The majority of Jasmine’s clothes and accessories were one of a kind items loaned from designers such as Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton and Hermes. Because the film explores Jasmine’s life before and after her financial and mental ruin her challenge was to keep her look reflective on Jasmine’s current state, how she is feeling and more importantly what she wants to hide.

blue jasmine


A Little Princess (1995)

October 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Anytime I sit back and watch A Little Princess I am immediately transported back in time to being an 8 year old kid seeing this enchanting film for the first time. Memories of feeling in awe of the entire spectacle of the costumes, the sweet & uplifting story and the sweeping soundtrack flood my mind. Fast forward 14 years and the experience remains as feel-good as ever.

This sweet movie tells the story of Sara Crewe, a young girl who is suddenly plucked from her exotic and carefree life in India with her loving Dad, played by a young Liam Cunningham, to the big city of New York where she must go to boarding school whilst Dad has been drafted to fight in WW1. The adjustment to begin with is understandably shaky for Sara as she is forced to abide by strict rules under the stern eye of the nasty headmistress Ms. Minchin. Her charm, vivid imagination and strength very quickly captures the attention of the other girls. Her belief that ‘all girls are princesses’ doesn’t bide well at all for Ms. Minchin who clearly holds onto a great deal of resentment, bitterness and hatred in her own life and so makes life very difficult for her.

a little princess fashion


Sara shares one of her final moments with her father before he leaves for war.

Sara shares one of her final moments with her father before he leaves for war.




As you can see the set design and costumes are incredible and a sight to behold. Vibrant hues of rich green, orange, yellow and cream fill the screen beautifully and I can vividly remember sitting back in awe when I was younger as I took in the entire spectacle of this movie. Ribbons, sashes, and gorgeous head gear all featured that finished off much of Sara’s lovely outfits.

Life in India

Life in India

I think we can all agree that Sara's bedroom in boarding school is not to be sniffed at! Girl has   taste.

I think we can all agree that Sara’s bedroom in boarding school is not to be sniffed at! Girl has taste.


Johanna Johnson’s enduring romance with the 1920’s

June 15, 2014 § 2 Comments

The bygone era of the 1920’s is considered by many to be an era of great change. America experienced what is widely referred to as the Roaring Twenties whilst in Europe it became known as the Golden Age. A new age where jazz music became the soundtrack of many sprawling cities and a more edgy and distinctive culture and society emerged after World War 1. The birth of mass culture resulted from an economic boom after the war because many people had more income at their disposal, and parts of society became consumed by consumerism. Many older generations did not flirt with the racy, modern mass culture. But for much of the youth the 1920’s was certainly roaring indeed.

Source: Jazz Fever

A newer,liberal woman blossomed during the 20’s. Hemlines became shorter, shapes were looser, hair was popularly cut into bob hairstyles. The restriction of corsets and bodices no longer had to be endured by women and instead their clothing moved with their bodies freely and comfortably. The flapper dress, popularised by the 1920 film The Flapper, became one of the most familiar fashion symbols of the era. This short-hemmed, loose-fitting dress was further immortalised by actress Louise Brooks.

Source: Google Images

Source: Neatorama

Actress Louise Brooks. Source: Daily Mail

Source: Recently Viewed Movies

The 1920’s are long gone but never too far away from our minds and imagination. Australian designer Johanna Johnson’s couture dress designs can certainly attest to that, that’s for sure. Looking at her 1920’s-influenced and art deco-inspired gowns I am immediately transported into a world not unlike that depicted in F.Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Her utterly delicate, billowing designs radiate an ethereal quality and grace. Their cuts are loose but form-fitting, the off-white metallic silk serves to further add to the overall ease and freedom of her designs. That new breed of 1920’s woman spoken of previously is all there, in a more elegant fashion, etched in every seam and contour.

Examples of the costumes on show in Baz Luhrmann’s movie adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ (2013). Source: The Atlantic

Johanna Johnson’s 2014 ‘Muse’ collection. Source: Polka Dot Bride

Source: Fly Away Bride

A Beautiful embellished neckline and head band add a vintage, sumptuous appeal to this bridal look. Source: Want that Wedding

The main ethos behind the Johanna Johnson brand is to:

“Reignite the romance and craftsmanship of yesteryear” *

It’s so wonderful to see a designer such as Johanna embracing the past in her garments. The addition of her head pieces, waist belts and jewellery enhance the whimsical, dreamy beauty of the gowns and finish the entire look. Her vintage-inspired gowns are loved by actress Christina Hendricks who is a fine example of the kind of woman who can wear the hell out of her kind of designs. Her feminine, hourglass figure fills every inch of fabric seamlessly creating a gorgeous silhouette.

Christina Hendricks on the red carpet. Source: INC Entertainment

More incredible pieces from the latest Johanna Johnson collection. Source: Wedding Inspirasi

Source: Polka Dot Bride

* Quote taken from

The Great Gatsby (2013)

September 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Take one book ranked among the greatest works of American literature, and one Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!). What do you get? A spectacularly visual re-imagining of a novel written by F.Scott Fitzgerald emblazoned with Luhrmann’s trademark bombastic and lush style of film making. Personally I quite enjoy his movies because they are unique. The visuals are often loud and overrun the screen, but at the same time there is a story to be told in the midst of it all.

A copy of the novel.

The Great Gatsby is no different. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysterious and titular character Jay Gatsby, the film is set in the summer of 1922 on the prosperous island of Long Island, New York. The story is narrated by would-be writer Nick Carraway played by Tobey Maguire, as he recounts his momentous memories of that summer. He arrives in town not knowing a single soul except for his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), and settles in a quaint little cottage overshadowed by the illustrious mansion and estate owned by his new neighbour, Gatsby.

New Guy in Town: Nick Carraway touches down on Long Island seeking adventure and fresh material for his writing.

There is absolutely no denying the impeccability and beauty of the twenties-inspired costumes in this film. Every outfit is suited to each and every character, their background and their personality. Interestingly with Gatsby, his perfectly calm and groomed exterior belies the man beneath it, as Nick soon finds out. His complete look is carried off with aplomb by DiCaprio showing just how well the Actor can wear the hell out of a suit. In true scene-stealing style Gatsby doesn’t appear in the movie until the 30 minute marker and boy does he make a fashionable entrance in a scene that is over-the-top but very ‘Luhrmann’. We see his introduction through the wide, innocent eyes of Carraway who, before this, had only wondered who Gatsby was. It isn’t until he attends one of his raucous parties that he finally meets the man everyone is talking about.

“His smile was one of those rare smiles that you may come across four or five times in life.”  – Nick Carraway.

Catherine Martin is not only the costume designer, she is also the director’s other half. Martin did a fantastic job in this movie. It is quite possibly the most beautiful film of the summer. Catherine worked alongside Miuccia Prada and Brooks Brothers to create the twenties-inspired costumes that the cast wear, including Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio. The designer has long been fascinated by the book’s time period, due to the social revolution that took place after World War 1.

It was a time of incredible change where we basically go from a 19th-Century world to a modern, mechanised world reliant on machines in the space of five years

Although maintaining the authenticity of original clothing was paramount to both Martin and Luhrmann, the idea of reconnecting audiences with the story was also a key focus. The modern soundtrack helped, no doubt.

Baz was describing to me about the modern music in this version of Gatsby and he said to me, ‘We’ve got to get the audience to feel how it must have felt to hear jazz for the first time at a party’.

Gatsby’s suits are wonderful.

Gatsby and Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, share a moment.

The jewelry worn by Daisy in the film were all custom-made to fit the era by none other than Tiffany & Co.

Tom Buchanan, played by Joel Edgerton, is the philandering husband of Daisy.

Set photo.

One of the many lavish party scenes.

Elizabeth Debicki stars as Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy Buchanan.

Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club (1999)

April 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

The darkly comic Fight Club was ranked number 10 by Empire magazine in its issue of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. Having seen it for the first time not so long ago I can safely say, I’m down with that. I thought it was a great movie. The ensemble cast is made up of Brad Pitt and Edward Norton – the former starring as Tyler Durden, one of my all time favourite characters in film. If that wasn’t enough there is Marla Singer, played by the gorgeous and super talented Helena Bonham Carter. Marla is a fantastic character that Helena breathed life into. Edward Norton plays the narrator,  an average-Joe who is living a dead-end life. He is in need of something to change his life. Tyler and Marla will take care of this – that is all I will say without spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. The trashy chain-smoking Marla has a very unique look that says so much about who she is. Below is a clip introducing Marla to the audience and to Norton’s character.

Marla wears a lot of black: black clothes, black eye makeup, sometimes a dark lip and always black messy hair. Her character is darkly witty, strong-willed and her philosophy of life is that she may die at any moment. She goes to cancer support groups because they’re cheaper than seeing a movie and there is free coffee. That’s how Marla rolls.

Always with a cloud of smoke.

With Edward Norton, the narrator of the story.

The only time Marla doesn’t wear black.

“I got this dress at a thrift store for one dollar. It’s a bridesmaid’s dress, someone loved it intensely for one day, and then tossed it. Like a Christmas tree. So special. Then, BAM, it’s on the side of the road. Tinsel still clinging to it. Like a sex crime victim. Underwear inside out. Bound with electrical tape.” – Marla

I love the contrast between her pale, ghostly skin and the dark hair and eyes. She is meant to look like she hasn’t slept in a while and hasn’t seen daylight too. But because it is HBC here, she ends up looking great because she has a gorgeous, doll-like face. She can pull off the death-warmed-up look well. Way to go HBC. Way to go.

Fight Club is based on the titular novel by Chuck Palahniuk. In the book she is described as thus:

“The girl is infectious human waste, and she’s confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing so she won’t commit to anything.”

Anna Karina in A Woman is A Woman (1961)

March 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

A Woman is A Woman or Une Femme est Une Femme was Danish actress (that’s right, she really was not french) Anna Karina’s first foray into feature film acting. Before this she would have been found advertising many soaps and toiletries on massive billboards around the world, which is what introduced her to her future husband and director of Une Femme est Une Femme, Jean- Luc Godard. Godard is quite iconically known as  the most radical french filmmaker of the 60’s and 70’s for challenging film tradition and experimenting and identifying with what is known as French New Wave. This film is very much associated with it, and of course because of the fact it was made in the early 60’s the styling is very much a nod to mod fashion!

Anna Karina.

With co-star Jean-Claude Brialy who plays her boyfriend Emile.

I fell in love with Karina’s on- screen style. I love the kitten eye makeup, her colourful bright stockings, cute fringe, and flirty feminine dresses. Everything works together brilliantly. This was no doubt helped through her input into costume designer Bernard Evein’s ideas.

Love the cute blue head band with her chic blue dress and the high bouffant hairstyle.


The movie has buckets of charm just like Ms. Karina herself. She plays Angela, a young girl working as a stripper who desperately wants to have a baby with her boyfriend Emile.  It has quite possibly the tamest strip club in the world that looks like it operates as an Italian restaurant on the side. What sets it apart is the unique style of Godard. The use of on screen graphics to give insights into the character’s motives, the all-too-sly speaking directly to the camera, the stop and start motion of the movie’s scoring and the accentuation of moments and dialogue by music which is artfully well done. Godard continued to have wife Karina star in a series of his films released after this wonderful gem.

This nautical number is gorgeous.

The injection of red livens up the same mostly white two piece suit.

Jean-Paul Belmondo (left) plays Emile’s best friend Alfred.

So after seeing A Woman is A Woman I’ve not only developed a massive girl crush on the lovely Karina and her adorable style, I’m now resigning myself to watching more Godard classics for more light-hearted fun and charming caper. Why not join me and expect more fashion moments to come soon after. Au Revoir!

Mélanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds (2009)

August 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

I recently dug out my copy of Inglourious Basterds, a 2009 movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. It has a great WW2 story line and with his signature style added, it really is a thrill to watch again. French actress Melanie Laurent stars as an escaped Jew who seeks revenge for the horrific death of her family at the hands of the SS in Nazi- occupied France.

Melanie as Shoshanna Dreyfus.

I really liked how Melanie’s character Shoshanna dressed. In many scenes she is very casual and goes about her day without makeup or any styling so as not to draw attention to herself, being an undercover Jew and all. Heba Thorisdottir who was the makeup artist on the set, described Shoshanna’s daily look as ”clean and glowing” and used products from the Kanebo Sensai range to achieve it.

Heba prepped the skin first with Sensai Silk Brightening Cream, €83.

Next she applied Sensai Foundation only where needed,€42.

Taupe eyeshadow and a peach toned blush were applied to complete the look.

Her day to day look comprised of a loose trouser, heavy jumper or blazer and quite often a warm hat.

Towards the end of the film, all of the stops were pulled out in spectacular form for the German Movie Night at the cinema she owns. In badass form, she plans to burn it down and all of the Nazi party members in it, with style.

Pretty snazzy eh? What a stunning red dress. I love the scene where she is getting herself ready for the night of her revenge. Everything about it is brilliant; Shoshanna applying her makeup in tune with David Bowie’s Cat People, the song itself, and finishing her look with a beautiful head piece and she’s ready to burn down the house. Literally. Check it out below.

She makes applying blush look like a ritual before battle.

The gorgeous head piece really adds to the 40’s retro feel to the look.

Not forgetting to pack a lipstick pistol in her clutch. No room for touch ups here!

If you fancy channeling the gorgeous look, Polyvore created a great one for inspiration.

Her hair was styled in glamorous retro waves.

For this scene, Heba Thorisdottir really enjoyed the challenge of customising colours to create the perfect cream blush that you see Shoshanna apply.

It was a very specific scene and Quentin knew exactly what he wanted in the scene so we didn’t exactly follow the period. Quentin wanted a cream blush but a lot softer consistency than are on the market so I actually had to sit down and make it! The color had to be very specific as well so, I dragged Quentin in the makeup trailer and sat him down and we had a lot of fun with making the color just perfect! ”

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