Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, “rock star” chaos theorist
“Isla Nublar”, 120 miles west of Costa Rica, Summer 1993
Film: Jurassic Park
Release Date: June 11, 1993
Director: Steven Spielburg
Costumes: Mitchell Ray Kenney, Sue Moore, Kelly Porter, and Eric H. Sandberg
International Dinosaur Day is celebrated twice a year, always on June 1st but also the third Tuesday in May, making today—May 19, 2020—the first observance of Dinosaur Day for the year. Why the chaotic timing?
The answer to questions like that may rest with a chaos theorist like Dr. Ian Malcolm, the swaggering, skeptical, and somewhat frantic mathematician portrayed by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, adapted from Michael Crichton’s novel.
“I bring the scientists, you bring a rock star,” the park’s exuberant founder John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) comments upon the first impressions that Dr. Malcolm makes on Hammond’s distinguished guests from the scientific community, Drs. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern).
“You’ll have to get used to Dr. Malcolm, he suffers from a deplorable excessive personality… especially for a mathematician,” Hammond adds. “Chaotician,” Ian corrects.
Despite the chaotician’s cavalier attitude, Ian proves to be the first of the group that was selected to audit the island’s safety to vocalize his well-informed skepticism of Hammond’s manipulation of nature, decrying the “violent, penetrative act” of discovery. Although unapologetically presenting himself as a bit of a cad—e.g. proudly declaring that he’s “always on the lookout for the next ex-Mrs. Malcolm”—Ian illustrates his heroism early on, creating a diversion to draw the attention of a Tyrannosaurus rex so that Dr. Grant could save Hammond’s two endangered grandchildren. The gambit results in an injury for Dr. Malcolm, with the more gruesome fate is reserved for the cowardly “bloodsucking lawyer” Donald Gennero (Martin Ferrero).
Ian’s leg injury puts him relatively out of commission for the rest of the movie’s action, though this doesn’t prevent Jeff Goldblum from deep breathing through a few seconds of ostensible fanservice that has been immortalized by countless GIFs, a Funko POP! figure, and even a 25-foot statue erected in London for Jurassic Park‘s 25th anniversary.
The legacy of the moment hasn’t been lost on Goldblum himself, who has recounted the moment as what felt like an organic addition to a scene in a tropical climate where his wounded character was “suffering manfully.”
What’d He Wear?
While the khaki-clad scientists are clearly dressed for an expedition into nature and Hammond’s white guayabera and matching slacks are ideal for the tropical climate, Dr. Ian Malcolm is blatantly dressed for neither.
The screenplay described Ian’s attire only as “all in black, with snakeskin boots and sunglasses,” consistent with the literary Malcolm telling Ellie Sattler that he only dresses in black and gray so as to avoid wasting any time considering his outfit. (The book, released in 1990, may have borrowed from Goldblum’s previous explanation for his character’s fashion in 1986’s The Fly, which he suggested was inspired by Albert Einstein.) It’s not surprising that fellow mathematicians Einstein and Malcolm would share similar approaches to dressing, and we know Albert appreciated leather jackets as well via the Levi’s “Menlo” he notably wore for his Time magazine cover in 1938.
For his trip to Isla Nublar, Dr. Malcolm drapes his all-black underpinnings with a black leather jacket, detailed like a sports jacket and slightly oversized per prevailing trends of the early ’90s. The single-breasted jacket has notch lapels with a buttonhole through the left lapel. The jacket has a two flat black plastic sew-through buttons to close, bisected by a seam that extends across the jacket’s waist line and meets the top of each widely jetted hip pocket. Malcolm’s leather jacket also has a welted breast pocket, single vent, and functioning three-button cuffs.
Ian Malcolm may survive the events of Jurassic Park, but his leather jacket remains a casualty, ostensibly abandoned in the Ford Explorer before his heroic, flare-blazing dash to save the Hammond grandchildren. Evidently, he prioritized picking up a replacement in the years to follow as he’s seen wearing a strikingly similar garment by the events of The Lost World.
Goldblum’s original screen-worn leather jacket from Jurassic Park was just auctioned in December 2019. The iCollector listing shares that the jacket was a product of North Beach Leathers Co., an appropriate fit for the “rock star” theorist as the San Francisco-based leather shop started by Bill Morgan in 1967 had crafted eight custom-made leather suits for Elvis Presley in the early ’70s.
In fact, it’s most likely that this jacket was Goldblum’s own. In May 1992, three months before filming had even started on Jurassic Park, Goldblum was photographed by Ron Galella attending the Beverly Hills premiere of his film The Favour, the Watch, and the Very Big Fish, wearing the exact same jacket, right down to what the listing describes as the “wishbone-shaped repair”, an inverted V on the jacket’s right shoulder between the armhole and collar that can be clearly seen in the movie.
(Another Galella photo from a separate 1992 event shows Goldblum dressed even closer to Ian Malcolm’s look in a silky black shirt, dark jeans, and even similar glasses.)
Dr. Malcolm’s silky black shirt is a collarless “neckband” shirt, a style that rose during the early ’80s as a throwback to the old-fashioned dress shirts that would be worn with stiff collars attached to them via gold studs. When Thomas Magnum and his ilk began wearing these, it was purely for casual wear, though the collarless look became so popular for men that, for a brief—but not brief enough—period during the 1990s, they were popular replacements for dress shirts with black tie (sans the tie, of course), as the otherwise sensible Tom Hanks wore when accepting his second Oscar during the 1995 Academy Awards.
It’s this shirt that Goldblum famously wore fully unbuttoned for the brief vignette as he observes the action from a corner of the room, though he mostly wears the shirt’s black buttons fastened up the plain front to mid-chest through the horizontal buttonholes, revealing much of his exposed chest as well as the sterling silver chain-link necklace he wears with a turquoise setting on the uneven pendant. The shirt also has a breast pocket and button cuffs, which he often wears unfastened and rolled up past his elbows.
Invariably blue for the better part of a century, jeans first prominently appeared in black denim during the 1950s, a decade when jeans themselves were transforming from workwear icon to countercultural symbol thanks to wearers like Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Elvis Presley.
Ian Malcolm may have dressed with form rather than function in mind for his trip to Isla Nublar, but at least his selection of black pants are the more durable denim jeans than dressier trousers or slacks. He wears them with a thick black edge-stitched leather belt with a gold-toned single prong buckle, removing the belt and using it to tourniquet his own leg after sustaining an injury distracting the T-rex from chasing Tim and Lex.
Consistent with his “bad boy” persona, Dr. Malcolm’s black harness boots are an evolution of the motorcycle boots famously worn by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Unlike the adjustable leather strap rigged across the ankle on traditional engineer boots, harness boots are distinguished by a ring on each side of the ankle that is fitted through a system of four non-adjustable straps: one across the top of the foot, one around the heel, and a shorter one that connects the ring to the sole on each side. Straps tend to be secured around the ring with a single or double stud fastening, with the latter more prevalent. These strap-and-ring elements were added when this square-toed boot was pioneered in the 1960s to provide extra protection to motorcyclists.
Many bootmakers have specialized in harness boots of different colors and sizes since they were pioneered during the 1960s with makers including Ad Tec (via Amazon), Durango (via Amazon and Boot Barn), Frye (via Amazon and Boot Barn), Harley Davidson (via Amazon and Boot Barn), and King Rocks (via Amazon).
Ian Malcolm’s tinted glasses with their solid black rectangular frames are part of his signature look. With the double silver pin detailing on the temples, Ian’s specs are widely believed to be Oliver Peoples, supported by a CR Men article presented by OP as well as the character’s inclusion in a list of OP wearers published in Waterloo, Iowa’s The Courier in 1997. Of the brand’s current offerings, the Oliver Peoples OV5102 “Denison” in matte black acetate look to be the nearest modern approximation to Dr. Malcolm’s eyewear (available via Amazon or Oliver Peoples).
In the decades since Jurassic Park, Goldblum has continued to incorporate distinctive glasses and sunglasses into his off-screen looks, with Jacque Marie Mage and Tom Ford particularly cited in recent examples.
Ian wears a large sterling silver statement ring on the third finger of his right hand, ornately detailed with the relief cast of an eagle spreading its wings, flanked by a small coral stone and a turquoise stone in sawtooth settings, the latter coordinating with the pendant around his neck. This ring was also auctioned in December 2019 with more details and a photo of the actual ring found on iCollector. Similar attractive rings can be found by searching the wares of Native American artisans like this similar piece by Navajo artist Grace Smith (via Little Feathers).
He also wears a stainless steel chronograph with a black dial, secured around his left wrist with a black leather strap top-stitched along the edges. Though the watch remains unidentified as of April 2020, a WatchUSeek forum has yielded suggestions including Breitling, Dodane, Hamilton, and Heuer, the latter thought to be the most likely contender.
How to Get the Look
It’s difficult to ascertain how much Jeff Goldblum‘s personal style influenced Ian Malcolm’s on-screen attire in Jurassic Park (or vice versa)… but it’s safe to say that if it’s black, Dr. Malcolm would wear it.
- Black leather single-breasted two-button sport jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, functional 3-button cuffs, and single vent
- Black silk neckband shirt with plain front, breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Black denim jeans
- Black leather belt with gold-toned single-prong buckle
- Black leather harness boots with silver rings
- Black socks (assumed)
- Black rectangular-framed tinted Oliver Peoples glasses
- Gold chain-link necklace with turquoise-set pendant
- Stainless silver eagle relief-cast ring with sawtooth-set coral and turquoise stones
- Stainless steel chronograph watch with black dial on black edge-stitched leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
For more of Goldblum’s insight into Jurassic Park, I suggest this 25th anniversary retrospective interview with Bill Bradley for The Huffington Post.
Life, uh, finds a way.