On George Clooney’s 60th birthday, I’m delighted to present a guest post contributed by my new friend, Ken Stauffer, featuring one of Clooney’s most stylish roles to date.
George Clooney as Jack Foley in Out of Sight (1998) Photo credit: Merrick Morton
George Clooney as Jack Foley, charismatic bank robber
Miami, Summer 1998
Film:Out of Sight Release Date: June 26, 1998 Director: Steven Soderbergh Costume Designer: Betsy Heimann
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy Birthday, George Clooney! Today, the actor/director/writer/producer/activist/Italian villa owner/father of twins turns 60, and to celebrate we’ll be looking at his first costume in Steven Soderbergh’s underrated 1998 crime comedy, Out of Sight.
Following the success of Get Shorty, screenwriter Scott Frank and producer Danny DeVito set out to bring another recent Elmore Leonard novel to life. The resulting film sees our birthday boy as the ever-charming Jack Foley, a thrice-incarcerated bank robber who “robbed more than anyone in the computer.” Continue reading →
Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951)
Montgomery Clift as George Eastman, dangerously ambitious factory executive
Carthage, Missouri to “Loon Lake”, Spring to Summer 1950
Film: A Place in the Sun Release Date: August 14, 1951 Director: George Stevens Costume Designer: Edith Head
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
April showers bring May flowers… and hopefully some floral shirts from the back of your closet!
Decades after Ellery J. Chun established his flowery-printed shirts as the signature garb of the Hawaiian islands, aloha shirts went mainstream on the mainland thanks in part to the American servicemen dazzled by the bright colors after being stationed in the Pacific. This postwar boom was felt at home in Hawaii, as Josh Sims wrote in Icons of Men’s Style that “by 1947, employees of Hawaii’s city councils were allowed to wear Hawaiian shirts to work and, in 1948, Aloha Wednesday, a precursor to dress-down Friday was introduced across the islands.”
Aloha style received an added boost from the on-screen advocacy of Montgomery Clift, first as the ambitious George Eastman in A Place in the Sun and then perhaps most famously as the conflicted rifleman at the heart ofFrom Here to Eternity, both performances that earned Monty two of his four Academy Award nominations. Continue reading →
Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
Mike Myers as Austin Powers, swingin’ secret agent
Las Vegas, Summer 1997
Film:Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Release Date: May 2, 1997 Director: Jay Roach Costume Designer: Deena Appel Tailor: Tommy Velasco
Several weeks ago, I delighted in the opportunity to rejoin the estimable Pete Brooker and Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits on the From Tailors with Love podcast, this time talking with Deena Appel, the prolific costume designer who created the shagadelic looks of all three Austin Powers movies. (You can find the episode split into two parts—Part 1 and Part 2—as well as Pete’s “show notes” here.)
Pete concluded our conversation by asking each participant which costume resonated most with us, and my answer—which surprised Deena at least—was the red velvet double-breasted suit that the cryogenically frozen Austin wears when re-entering the world by way of late ’90s Las Vegas in the first movie, which was released 24(!) years ago today on May 2, 1997. Continue reading →
Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook in Paris Blues (1961)
Sidney Poitier as Eddie Cook, expatriate jazz saxophonist
Paris, Fall 1960
Film:Paris Blues Release Date: September 27, 1961 Director: Martin Ritt
Ten years ago, the United Nations established April 30 as International Jazz Day, a global celebration envisioned by Grammy-winning musician and UNESCO Goodwill ambassador Herbie Hancock “to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe.” The observance feels ideal for taking a first look at the sleek style in Martin Ritt’s cooler-than-ice 1961 drama, Paris Blues, starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as yankee jazzmen making their living in a French nightclub and romancing a pair of American tourists played by Joanne Woodward and Diahann Carroll. Continue reading →
Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld (Episode 2.03: “The Jacket”)
Jerry Seinfeld, observational comedian
New York City, Winter 1990
Series:Seinfeld Episode: “The Jacket” (Episode 2.03) Air Date: February 6, 1991 Director: Tom Cherones Creator: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld Costume Designer: Llandys Williams
Happy birthday, Jerry Seinfeld! Admittedly, the comedian typically doesn’t come to mind as a style icon; in fact, he may have been consistently the worst-dressed of the four leads on his eponymous ’90s sitcom, swimming in oversized sport jackets often paired with the incongruous combination of printed neckties, “dad jeans”, and white sneakers.
Having been a fan of the series since it was still airing new episodes (despite most of the jokes likely going over my head at that age), it wasn’t until rewatching the series beginning-to-end with my fiancée during one of my our many quarantine-inspired “comfort TV” marathons that I noticed just how frequently clothing drove the plot of the “show about nothing”, a series always propelled by the minutiae of everyday life.
Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardner in The Way We Were (1973)
Robert Redford as Hubbell Gardiner, Hollywood screenwriter
Malibu, California, September 1947
Film:The Way We Were Release Date: October 19, 1973 Director: Sydney Pollack Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins & Moss Mabry
Don’t take any crap…to the both of us… and all the absent friends, class of ’37.
Navy pals-turned-Tinseltown teammates Hubbell (Robert Redford) and J.J. (Bradford Dillman) cynically reflect on the decade since they graduated from college together, one world war and sold-out script later.
Al Pacino as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman (1992)
Al Pacino as Frank Slade, blind and bitter retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel
New York City to New Hampshire, Fall 1992
Film: Scent of a Woman Release Date: December 23, 1992 Director: Martin Brest Costume Designer: Aude Bronson-Howard Tailor: Martin Greenfield
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Al Pacino! As the legendary actor’s 81st birthday coincides with the Academy Awards tonight, let’s take a look at Scent of a Woman, Martin Brest’s 1992 drama that resulted in Pacino’s sole Oscar to date.
Pacino played retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, a blind and irascible alcoholic who secretly plans on spending the Thanksgiving holiday with a lavish weekend in New York City before ending his life. Somewhat reluctantly along for the ride is Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), a mild-mannered prep student hired to care for Frank, though the cantankerous colonel seems more than willing to watch out for himself.
David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, ambitious humanoid alien
New Mexico, Summer 1975
Film:The Man Who Fell to Earth Release Date: March 18, 1976 Director: Nicolas Roeg Costume Designer: May Routh Tailor: Ola Hudson
In the spirit of Earth Day, let’s check in with The Man Who Fell to Earth. Only David Bowie could have truly played the idealistic humanoid alien who makes a desperate voyage to Earth in order to gather the technology to save his drought-ridden home planet, only for his ageless character to succumb to the materialistic pleasures offered by the sex, drugs, and capitalism that characterized American zeitgeist in the ’70s.
John Slattery as Roger Sterling on Mad Men. (Episode 5.06: “Far Away Places”)
John Slattery as Roger Sterling, Madison Avenue ad executive
New York City, Fall 1966
Series:Mad Men Episode: “Far Away Places” (Episode 5.06) Air Date: April 22, 2012 Director: Scott Hornbacher Creator: Matthew Weiner Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Tomorrow may have a storied association with cannabis, but today—April 19—has been deemed “Bicycle Day”, recognizing that wild Monday night in 1943 when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann recognized the highly potent psychoactive properties of LSD during a mind-bending bicycle ride home from his Basel lab.
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978)
Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, eccentric Belgian detective
Egypt, September 1937
Film:Death on the Nile Release Date: September 29, 1978 Director: John Guillermin Costume Designer: Anthony Powell
Today would have been the 100th birthday of Peter Ustinov, the brilliant dramatist and diplomat who—among his many achievements—played Agatha Christie’s celebrated sleuth Hercule Poirot in a half-dozen productions.
Fluent in multiple languages, Ustinov was easily able to glide between the English and French required to play the fussy Belgian detective and was able to provide his own voice in the French and German versions of his movies, including several of the Poirot productions.
Death on the Nile was the first—and often considered the strongest—of Ustinov’s six films as Poirot. Continue reading →