Monday, 30 January 2012

The Descendants

The costume design in The Descendants may not be the thing that has most people talking about it, but its clever, subtle but very powerful use of Hawaiian print had me transfixed. In a film where the concept of ancestory is central, the Hawaiian print acts alongside the family pictures on the walls of Clooney's home.

At the beginning of the film Clooney makes a jibe at those who believe people who live in Hawaii to be living in Paradise. 'How can they think our lives are any less fucked up than their's', he says. The Hawaiian print bears this imprint- of a colonised past, a sad history behind a utopian aesthetic.

In the film, it is worn on bikinis, shirts and on the duvet of a woman as she dies in her hospital bed, later used by her family to comfort themselves. The more I looked at it, the more I saw the design as a kind of shadow-catcher print;  an image of a wilting flower, of a lost paradise; a descendant.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Zoot suits

'Zoot suits' by Edward Burra, (1943)

I went to Pallant House today in Chichester to see the Edward Burra exhibition, which is on until the 19 February. I loved this picture called "Zoot Suits". The accompanying text at the exhibition stated:

"Zoot Suits refer to the Harlem style suits with padded shoulders, 43 inch trousers at the knee and small cuffs and high waistline, worn by West Indian immigrants in London, following the British Nationality Act."

Some further research on Zoot Suits made me stumble across this excellent blog, where I learnt that the zoot suit became a symbol of youthful rebellion in wartime, both in america and europe. According to this other blog, there were even Zoot Suit riots during the second world war.

Monday, 9 January 2012

maggie's handbag

Fascinating bit of info here on Maggie Thatcher's handbag- the feminine prop that became a threatening symbol of conservative control. As faux-feminine as her principles, this mock-croc came to define not just Thatcher's image, but her actions. In so doing, the object became a verb, from 'handbagging her cabinet' to her 'handbag diplomacy'. Has a handbag ever been an accessory to so many crimes?