John Slattery as Roger Sterling, hedonistic Madison Avenue ad executive
New York City, spring 1969 and spring 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “The Monolith” (Episode 7.04), dir. Scott Hornbacher, aired 5/4/2014
– “Severance” (Episode 7.08), dir.Scott Hornbacher, aired 4/5/2015
– “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), dir.Matthew Weiner, aired 5/17/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Though we in the Northern Hemisphere welcomed spring yesterday, some cities (I can speak personally for Pittsburgh) were greeted by the new season with a fresh onslaught of snowfall.
Bitterness aside… spring often finds well-dressed gents pushing their heavy flannel suits to the back of the closet and bringing forth items perfect for greeting sunnier days ahead. The double-breasted navy blazer remains a stalwart menswear staple for transitioning into the warm and wonderful days of spring, whether sporting it for an evening in the Riviera, greeting the morning on your yacht… or spending the afternoon in your Midtown Manhattan office, counting down the days to retirement.
Naturally, the latter situation brings to mind one Roger Sterling, the increasingly redundant but effortlessly witty Madison Avenue executive on AMC’s Mad Men. Continue reading
Jack Davenport as James Spencer, aka “Lancelot”, smooth British agent
Argentina, Winter 2014
Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Martin Nicholls
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
James Spencer, aka “Lancelot” (Jack Davenport), is introduced to audiences in the manner one would expect of a story’s hero. He transitions between dry wit and superhuman agility as he deftly takes out a room full of assassins in his attempt to rescue Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) from his kidnappers.
The vignette concludes with a Lancelot in the traditional pose of an action hero, gun up and smirking while on bended knee… Continue reading
John Wayne as Michael “Guns” Donovan, island saloon owner and U.S. Navy veteran
French Polynesia, December 1963
Film: Donovan’s Reef
Release Date: June 12, 1963
Director: John Ford
Costume Designer: Edith Head
A decade after John Wayne traveled to Hawaii to play the titular anti-communist agent in Big Jim McLain, the actor returned for the production of Donovan’s Reef, a more lighthearted and less politically motivated film and the final of Duke’s many cinematic collaborations with prolific director John Ford.
Donovan’s Reef is set during the holidays in French Polynesia where ex-Navy gunner’s mate Michael “Guns” Donovan operates a saloon on the fictional island of Haleakaloha. Continue reading
John Travolta as Tony Manero, aimless paint store clerk and disco god
Brooklyn, Spring 1977
Film: Saturday Night Fever
Release Date: December 14, 1977
Director: John Badham
Costume Designer: Patrizia Von Brandenstein
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Saturday Night Fever, the definitive film of the disco era. Often remembered for its soundtrack and street style, a closer look reveals an uncompromising film that wasn’t afraid to explore the dark themes that lurked beneath the era’s glittery polyester veneer, all propelled by an equally uncompromising star turn from a 23-year-old John Travolta. Continue reading
Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, eccentric consulting detective
London, November 1890
Film: Sherlock Holmes
Release Date: December 25, 2009
Director: Guy Ritchie
Costume Designer: Jenny Beavan
Looking for a historical Halloween costume in a pinch? In the spirit of #SherlockSunday, grab a peacoat, a peaked cap, and a pair of suspenders, and you’re good to go!
But isn’t Sherlock Holmes most associated with the classic Basil Hathbone ensemble of a deerstalker cap and Ulster cape? Not so in the 2009 film starring Robert Downey Jr. as the iconic detective, as director Guy Ritchie insisted that his incarnation would neither wear the deerstalker nor say “Elementary, my dear Watson,” choosing instead to present what Roger Ebert would call a “cheerfully revisionist” take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s character. Continue reading
Ryan Reynolds as Curtis Vonn, charismatic drifter and gambler
Iowa to New Orleans, March 2014
Film: Mississippi Grind
Release Date: January 24, 2015
Director: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Costume Designer: Abby O’Sullivan
I was honored to correspond with Abby O’Sullivan, the talented costume designer who worked on Mississippi Grind, to learn firsthand insight about the inspiration, concept, and execution of the costumes that gave the film its distinctive look.
Abby recalls Mississippi Grind as “a special film” that stands out on her impressive resume due to the talents of the creative team, particularly directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and cinematographer Andrij Parekh, who all contributed to developing the “distinctive 1970s Americana road movie” attitude that radiates off the screen like neon bar lights through Marlboro smoke. Continue reading
Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow, bank robber with “second sight”
Rural Louisiana, May 1934
Series Title: Bonnie and Clyde
Air Date: December 8, 2013
Director: Bruce Beresford
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Eighty years ago today, six Southern lawmen pulled off a feat that the federal government had been failing to do for months with the first real victory in the United States’ “War on Crime”.
With the advent of the Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929, criminals abandoned gangsterdom and bootlegging (both “Machine Gun” Kelly and “Pretty Boy” Floyd were known to be bootleggers early in their career) in favor of motorized banditry. In the spirit of the Old West, bank robbers took to cars all across the country – with a special concentration in the poorest areas of the Midwest and the South.
This crime wave did not go unnoticed by the government. Soon, names like John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, and Alvin Karpis were dominating the headlines, and they were surprisingly welcome by the people who were sick and tired of the perceived “fat cats” in the government. Some of the criminals, Dillinger and Floyd especially, even had the begrudging respect of some small-town lawmen. But the greatest disparity between public opinion and actual temperament is with the case of Bonnie and Clyde. Continue reading