Leo Woodall and Haley Lu Richardson on The White Lotus (Episode 2.05: “That’s Amore”)
Leo Woodall as Jack, a brash young man from Essex who is close to his uncle
Sicily, Summer 2022
Series:The White Lotus Episode: “That’s Amore” (Episode 2.05) Air Date: November 27, 2022 Director: Mike White Creator: Mike White Costume Designer: Alex Bovaird
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The warmer weather may be inspiring you to plan for a late spring break or start prepping for summer vacations. With the recent announcement that the third season of The White Lotus, Mike White’s anthology of doomed vacationers, will be set in Thailand, I returned to the style from the series’ second season set in sunny Sicily… specifically a style that I was pleasantly surprised to see had long been in my own closet!
Rather than being a guest at the resort, the cocksure Jack (Leo Woodall) is connected to the coterie of Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his “high-end gays” who entertain the oblivious Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) and her Gen-Z assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) on their yacht Ethna en route Palermo. Quentin describes the outgoing yet shady young man from Essex as his “cheeky nephew”, who initially seems to be the answer to Portia’s wish for a simple, adventurous fling before she and her employer begin seeing the far more sinister reality underscoring their association. Continue reading →
Pierce Brosnan as Max Burdett in After the Sunset (2004)
Pierce Brosnan as Max Burdett, retired(?) jewel thief
The Bahamas, Summer 2004
Film:After the Sunset Release Date: November 12, 2004 Director: Brett Ratner Costume Designer: Rita Ryack Pierce Brosnan’s Costumer: Edward T. Hanley
Happy 70th birthday to Pierce Brosnan!
Perhaps in response to playing well-tailored protagonists like Remington Steele, Thomas Crown, and—of course—James Bond, Brosnan seemed to delight in defining his post-007 screen persona as an opportunistic and oft-oversexed beach bum, as seen in varying degrees in the excellent The Tailor of Panama, the entertaining The Matador, and the escapist heist flick After the Sunset. Continue reading →
John Cusack with Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening in The Grifters (1990)
John Cusack as Roy Dillon, swaggering con man with mommy issues
Phoenix and Los Angeles, Summer 1990
Film: The Grifters Release Date: December 5, 1990 Director: Stephen Frears Costume Designer: Richard Hornung
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
At seventeen going on eighteen, Roy Dillon had left home. He took nothing with him but the clothes he wore—clothes he had bought and paid for himself. He took no money but the little in the pockets of his clothes, and that too he had earned.
He wanted nothing from Lilly. She had given him nothing when he needed it, when he was too small to get for himself, and he wasn’t letting her into the game at this late date.
He had no contact with her during the first six months he was away. Then, at Christmas time, he sent her a card, and on Mother’s Day he sent her another. Both were of the gooey sentimental type, dripping with sickly sweetness, but the latter was a real dilly. Hearts and flowers and fat little angels swarmed over it in an insanely hilarious montage. The engraved message was dedicated to Dear Old Mom, and it gushed tearfully of goodnight kisses and platters and pitchers of oven-fresh cookies and milk when a little boy came in from play.
You would have thought that Dear Old Mom (God bless her silvering hair) had been the proprietor of a combination dairy-bakery, serving no customer but her own little tyke (on his brand-new bike).
He was laughing so hard when he sent it that he almost botched up the address. But afterward, he had some sobering second thoughts. Perhaps the joke was on him, yes? Perhaps by gibing at her he was revealing a deep and lasting hurt, admitting that she was tougher than he. And that, naturally, wouldn’t do. He’d taken everything she had to hand out, and it hadn’t made a dent in him. He damned well mustn’t ever let it think it had.
— Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Chapter 5
Reading this passage from one of my favorite pulp novelists inspired today’s Mother’s Day post, by way of Jim Thompson’s acid pen translated onto the screen.
Nominated for four Academy Awards, Stephen Frears’ slick 1990 neo-noir The Grifters joins Psycho (1960) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962) in a cinematic fraternity of twisted depictions of mother-son relationships, represented by short-con operator Roy Dillon (John Cusack) and his estranged mother Lilly (Anjelica Huston), a fellow swindler who has long been in service to sadistic bookie Bobo Justus (Pat Hingle) and eventually requires resources from her son to make her clean getaway:
I gave you your life twice. I’m asking you to give me mine once.
Roy and Lilly’s reunion is complicated by Roy’s hustler girlfriend Myra Langtry (Annette Bening), who schemes to remove the domineering matriarch as an obstacle to partnering with Roy. Continue reading →
Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Jerry Seinfeld in a promotional photo for Seinfeld
Series:Seinfeld Air Dates: July 5, 1989 — May 14, 1998 Created by: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld Costume Designers: * Charmaine Nash Simmons (seasons 4-9)
* Ruth E. Carter (episode 1 only)
* Jane Ruhm (rest of season 1)
* Llandys Williams (season 2)
* Marie H. Burk (season 3) Costume Supervisor/Key Costumer: Stephanie Kennedy (seasons 5-9)
This Sunday will be the 25th anniversary of the finale of Seinfeld, the NBC sitcom that remains a pop culture touchstone more than a quarter-century later with phrases like “double-dipping”, “re-gifting”, “shrinkage”, and “yada yada yada” an enduring part of our lexicon… even if those saying them don’t know they originated from Seinfeld.
Centered around the neuroses and misadventures of four everyday New Yorkers, Seinfeld was hardly a fashion-oriented show, yet its focus on the minutiae of life means plenty of focus on the kind of comedy that can be derived from clothing, whether it’s as broad as a ridiculous jacket or as nitpicky as two buttons placed too closely together. Continue reading →
Ryan O’Neal with Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon (1973)
Ryan O’Neal as Moses “Moze” Pray, charismatic con artist
Kansas to Missouri, Spring 1936
Film:Paper Moon Release Date: May 9, 1973 Director: Peter Bogdanovich Costume Designer: Polly Platt (uncredited)
Today is the 50th anniversary of Paper Moon, Peter Bogdanovich’s artfully nostalgic road comedy that was released May 9, 1973, exactly a month after its Hollywood premiere. Filmed in black-and-white and set during the Great Depression, Paper Moon stars Ryan O’Neal and his real-life daughter Tatum O’Neal in her big-screen debut who turned nine during the film’s production. When 10-year-old Tatum won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon, she set a record as the youngest-ever performer to win a competitive Oscar. Continue reading →
I’m again pleased to present a guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who has written several pieces for BAMF Style previously and chronicles the style of the Ocean’s film series on his excellent Instagram account, @oceansographer.
George Clooney as Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Excerpted from a photo by Timothy White.
George Clooney as Danny Ocean, veteran casino heister
Las Vegas, Summer 2007
Film:Ocean’s Thirteen Release Date: June 8, 2007 Director: Steven Soderbergh Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Happy birthday to George Clooney, who turns 62 today! To honor the two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker and tequila company founder, we’re taking a look back at a standout outfit he wore in his last turn as Danny Ocean (so far) in Ocean’s Thirteen.
After the mixed reception that Ocean’s Twelve received, it was decided that the gang would return to Las Vegas for the duration of the next film. As such, the 2007 threequel finds Ocean & Co. reuniting to get revenge on ruthless hotel tycoon Willy Bank (Al Pacino, in one of his best late career roles) after he swindles their brother-in-arms Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), sending him into a coma by way of a heart attack. The bulk of the action takes place as the crew prepares for the grand opening of Bank’s opulent new Vegas Strip casino on July 3rd.
Mid-way through the film, we watch as Danny and his right hand man, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), navigate a series of debilitating setbacks while running around Las Vegas on one very long June day. Sure, they’re out of time and money, and their plan is falling apart, but you’d never know it to look at them. Through a combination of movie star charm and expert tailoring, the pair manage to exude an effortlessly cool air even in 100°F+ desert temps. Continue reading →
Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley in Operation Mincemeat (2022)
Matthew Macfadyen as Charles Cholmondeley, Flight Lieutenant (temporary), RAF Intelligence and Security Department, seconded to MI5
London, Spring 1943
Film:Operation Mincemeat Release Date: April 15, 2022 Director: John Madden Costume Designer: Andrea Flesch
It was 80 years ago this week when a corpse identified as Major William Martin of the Royal Marines was discovered by Spanish fishermen off the Andalusian coast on the morning of Friday, April 30, 1943. Of course, sardine spotter José Antonio Rey María had no idea that the putrefying body in uniform that he brought to shore and delivered to the nearby regiment of Spanish shoulders was not a decorated British officer but instead a pawn in one of the most famous acts of wartime deception, known internally as Operation Mincemeat.
Though formally set in motion about four months earlier, the tactic originated in a memo circulated by Admiral John Godfrey, Director of Naval Intelligence, in September 1939, just weeks after Germany declared war on England. “It was issued under Godfrey’s name, but it more all the hallmarks of his personal assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming, who would go on to write the James Bond novels,” alluded author Ben Macintyre in his volume Operation Mincemeat, which was recently adapted into a Netflix film of the same name.
Known as the “Trout Memo” for its metaphor comparing counterespionage to trout fishing, the memorandum offered a total of 51 proposed plans for “introducing ideas into the heads of the Germans.” Listed as number 28 was “A Suggestion (not a very nice one)” which Godfrey and Fleming freely admit was borrowed from colorful author Basil Thomson’s novel The Milliner’s Hat Mystery, consisting of “a corpse dressed as an airman,” with his pockets and belongings detailing falsified plans for an invasion.
While the literary-influenced idea sounds nothing short of fantastic, it found a foothold in “the corkscrew mind” of Charles Cholmondeley, a young, shy, and somewhat eccentric Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve officer who served as secretary for the top-secret XX Committee, so named as the Roman numerals for twenty also form a “double cross”… which should provide some hint into both the type of work conducted by the group as well as the minds that directed it. Continue reading →
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 1.12: “Isabella”)
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, depressed New Jersey mob chief
Montclair, New Jersey, Fall 1998
Series:The Sopranos Episode: “Isabella” (Episode 1.12) Air Date: March 28, 1999 Director: Allen Coulter Creator: David Chase Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month. The first day of May aligning with the informal BAMF Style observance of “Mafia Monday” feels fortuitous as it was The Sopranos that helped me get more in touch with my own anxiety and depression.
I was starting college when I first watched The Sopranos, just months after the final episode stymied audiences when it cut to black. I had long loved movies like Goodfellas, Casino, and The Godfather, so I was excited when my roommate introduced me to this acclaimed HBO series centered around the mob… and I was instantly intrigued when it pulled me into a deeper exploration of identity, masculinity, and mental health. Tony’s psychiatric treatment with Dr. Melfi helped me recognize symptoms that I thought were just “normal” sadness as brought me to a point where—with the added help of real-life professionals (of course!)—I was more comfortable with healthy expression than repression.
The twelfth episode, “Isabella”, arguably presents Tony Soprano at his lowest point—heavily medicated to the point of hallucination, barely dressing himself, and hardly enough wits to fight back during an attempted assassination as two gunmen corner him on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Continue reading →
Willie Nelson as Wendell Hickson in The Electric Horseman (1979)
Willie Nelson as Wendell Hickson, trusty talent manager and cowboy singer
Las Vegas, Fall 1978
Film:The Electric Horseman Release Date: December 21, 1979 Director: Sydney Pollack Costume Designer: Bernie Pollack
Happy 90th birthday, Willie Nelson! Best known as a country singer/songwriter and prolific stoner, Nelson made his screen acting debut in The Electric Horseman as Wendell Hickson, the laidback and loyal yet understandably weary manager to Sonny Steele (Robert Redford), an increasingly erratic ex-rodeo star who has been reduced to PR appearances promoting cereal for his corporate overlords.
Naturally, Willie also contributed three songs for the film’s soundtrack, including the outlaw standards “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”, “Midnight Rider”, and “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”. Continue reading →
My favorite Succession looks are always when the Roy family and their hangers-on are out of the office—or, even better—far from the city, either dressed down in linens for a sunny day at sea or layered in knitwear and Barbours for the country.
Midway through the series’ fourth and final season, “Kill List” was an example of the latter, transporting the Waystar RoyCo corporate entourage to western Norway for tech giant GoJo’s corporate retreat, where they plan to land a deal with its insufferably erratic Elon-esque billionaire CEO, Lukas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård).
The Scandinavian woods brought out plenty of great style, from Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) in his shearling-lined bomber and one of his trademark cashmere caps to Siobhan (Sarah Snook) rotating through a few neutral turtlenecks layered under sport jackets… not to forget her soon-to-be-ex-husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen) channeling Steve McQueen in a similar sport jacket and turtleneck, albeit with sneakers so white they threaten to confuse the molly-addled Swedes among them.
Among many great performances, the episode belonged to Kieran Culkin as Roman Roy, who was already an exceedingly entertaining character but whose mourning through the latest season brought out an even greater depth in the character. Succession has chronicled Roman’s growth from an immature prankster to a more business-minded professional—albeit still not one above his occasional dick joke (or pic, with apologies to Gerri Kellman). His quest for his father’s approval—even posthumously—has shown Roman taking himself more seriously while still battling his own unresolved inner turmoil. Continue reading →