Monday, November 20, 2006

Fabric in the movies




I went to the movies yesterday to see Marie Antoinette with my daughter. One of the benefits of having an 18 year old daughter is that I have someone to go to chick flicks with. I was interested in seeing the film because from the previews and from the Vogue photo spread I could tell that there was going to be some excellent fabric eye candy in the movie. Kristen Dunst was charming in the film. She evolves from a 14 year old princess to a mature woman. But the film is poorly paced, lingering way too long over Marie Antoinette's problem of getting her teenage husband to consummate the marriage. Apparently it took years for this to happen, and Sophia Coppola, the director, seems to have wanted us to feel the full effect of the delay. The post-consummation portion of the story doesn't have much drama, and then suddenly, the film is over.

But the eye candy! The velvets! The ruffles! The tassles! The lace masks in the masked ball scene! The shoes! Oh, and there's cake too. It's worth it to see this movie just to see the linens. Curiously, although the film gives a nod to what we call in literary criticism multi-temporal heterogeneity by incorporating a contemporary rock music score with a pre-rock music era story (which we also saw in the movie Moulin Rouge), the costumes and sets look historically accurate. Or at least what we expect historically accurate to look like through the lens of Hollywood movies.

This movie has got me to thinking about other fabric-friendly movies. Another favorite of mine is Martin Scorcese's The Age of Innocence. There is a wonderful scene where Daniel Day-Lewis kisses Michelle Pheiffer's shoe, and we can see the detail of the sumptuous hem of her dress. It's practically fabric porn. Do you have a favorite fabric movie?

9 comments:

Rian said...

Oh, and there's cake, too. ROFL!! That's a good one, Barbara!

I'd have to say How to Marry a Millionaire simply for the pink taffeta dress Marilyn wears in "Diamonds."

Balwearie said...

I love "Elizabeth" for all that wonderful damask. Absolutely scrumptuous.

dee said...

Memoirs of the Geisha, The Last Emporer, Raise the Red Lantern and I love the two mentioned before mine.

dee said...

Sorry, that's supposed to be Emperor-I'm dislexic today.

The Carolina Quilter said...

I thought the descriptions of the kimono in the book Memoirs were far more beautiful than the kimono themselves in the movie! What a book! The movie I thought was pretty faithful to the book but didn't quite do it justice.

Allison said...

Thanks so much for the heads up! I will rent this one for the textiles for sure.
"Fabric porn"....love it!
"Kundun" by Martin Scorcese, has the most incredible textiles I ever saw in a movie...about the early years of the Dalai Lama.
Scorcese gives us yet another reason to worship at his filmmaking feet (loved "The Departed" recently). He gets it when it comes to costumes.

p.s. I love it when you talk academic.

Jules said...

I have never thought of movies in terms of fabric before. If I ever go back to the movies, I will have to check that aspect out.

Deb H said...

I loved the textiles & Architecture in the Lord of the Rings. There was a dress in that movie that an elf woman character wore (I paid no attention to the story itself, thought it was boring), but it was some sand wash silk that flowed Heavanly. & the designs on things, I want to freeze frames & start sketching.

My daughter told me I need to see Memoirs of a Geisha too, just for the fabrics. She said she couldn't stop thinking of me as she watched it, "Mom would love that fabric".

Kay said...

What a neat topic. Like Jules, I notice, but don't really think about remembering it. But now that you mention it, I agree with Deb H about the fabrics in the Lord of the Rings, also the jewelry designs. Another lousy movie with great costuming is one of the recent Star Wars things. Queen what's-her-name had incredible costumes, particularly in the wedding scene.
.
The big flea market in Paris has a booth with amazing vintage textiles, including the sort of brocades and embroideries that Marie Antoinette might have really worn. While I was there trying not to drool on the fabric, there was an American woman who is costuming a TV show about John Adams and Ben Franklin in Paris at the time of the Am. Revolution. She was looking for embroidery pieces from that period that she could use for models. I eavesdropped shamelessly. I didn't buy anything of course :)