Richard Gere as Julian Kaye, high-price L.A. escort
Los Angeles, Spring 1980
Film: American Gigolo
Release Date: February 8, 1980
Director: Paul Schrader
Costumer: Bernadene C. Mann
Costume Coordinator: Alice Rush
Richard Gere’s Costumes: Giorgio Armani
Strut into spring like Richard Gere’s confident Julian Kaye, the titular American gigolo of Paul Schrader’s 1980 thriller.
Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire, estranged family man, and fastidious dresser
RMS Titanic, April 1912
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins
Julia: You’re up early.
Richard: I had to scratch around for something to wear. Not a bad shop, they have everything.
Julia: Dinner jackets, I trust.
Richard: Naturally. It will be ready tonight. So… life can go on.
This exchange summarizes the 1953 melodrama Titanic, one of the first attempts to tell the now-infamous story of the real-life sinking of the White Star Line’s premiere ocean liner during its maiden voyage in April 1912, sending more than 1,500 passengers and crew to their deaths as a few more than 700 spend a chilly night in uncovered lifeboats, waiting for help to arrive.
Released 66 years ago tomorrow, 20th Century Fox’s Titanic focuses more on the personal drama of the fictional Sturges family: pretentious and aloof patriarch Richard (Clifton Webb) and his strong-willed, responsible wife Julia (Barbara Stanwyck) who tries to protect their children from taking after their profligate father. Cut from the same cloth as his wickedly snobbish Waldo Lydecker character in Laura, Richard Ward Sturges delights in his children’s obvious preference for him as he showers them with a decadent lifestyle that would no doubt spoil them as adults if not for their more practical mother’s interventions. Continue reading
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, shrewd German terrorist leader and self-described “excellent thief”
Los Angeles, Christmas 1987
Film: Die Hard
Release Date: July 15, 1988
Director: John McTiernan
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Like surprisingly many others, Die Hard is one of my favorite Christmas movies and no holiday season—no matter how hectic or bleak—is complete without a viewing of what is arguably the greatest action movie ever made.
For the first BAMF Style holiday season in 2012, I broke down the rugged (and eventually very sparse) style of Bruce Willis’ John McClane, but it feels like the time has come to look at what the film’s fashion-driven antagonist wore as he led his European gunslingers into Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve 1987.
Mr. Takagi, I could talk about industrialization and men’s fashion all day, but I’m afraid work must intrude…
What’d He Wear?
Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there.
Obviously, Hans Gruber knows a thing about clothes as he takes the time to compliment the Nakatomi Corporation’s soon-to-be martyr’s suit. Whether or not the dark suit sported by Hans himself is one of his two from the prestigious (but ultimately fictional) John Phillips.
Hans Gruber’s dark charcoal suit is very contemporary to its 1980s setting, not surprising for a man so interested in fashion and image. The jacket is cut short with a double-breasted 4-on-2 button stance. Continue reading
Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, corrupt Atlantic City treasurer and “half a gangster”
Atlantic City, January 1920
Series: Boardwalk Empire
– “Boardwalk Empire” (Episode 1.01, aired September 19, 2010, dir. Martin Scorsese)
– “The Ivory Tower” (Episode 1.02, aired September 26, 2010, dir. Tim Van Patten)
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
The real “Nucky” Thompson—actually named Enoch L. Johnson—was born in 1883 and, like his semi-fictional TV counterpart, was raised in Atlantic City with both he and his father serving as sheriff. By 1920, he was the county treasurer and made much money from illegal bootlegging during Prohibition. Continue reading