Fashion,  ThreadTalk

Halloween Film Fashion

1 – Dim the lights, grab the popcorn: #threadtalk is going to the (creepy) movies. 🎃🍿🥤

This special edition features a broad list of films that haunt, terrify & sometimes titillate–but always with style. Horror, musicals, cartoons (& odd Disney choices) we've got 'em all. 🔪

2 – NOTE: Inclusion in this list does not mean my personal approval of their director(s), creator(s), actors, producers, etc. Hollywood is nasty on a good day, & some of these films have not aged well.

These are pulled from *my* personal experience in horror films. So, YMMV.

Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash  - a sign on a background that reads Danger: Do Not Enter

3 – I'm beginning with ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968). Starring Mia Farrow as the mother of a the spawn of Satan himself, I definitely saw this movie way too young (thanks, Mom!).

The poster it fantastic, but it's Farrow's innocent pastel wardrobe that makes the fashion statement.

4 – As the film progresses, Farrow's wardrobe gets frillier and flowerier & for many of the key scenes she's wearing this baby-blue nightgown.

So what, you ask? Blue is the color of the Virgin Mary & audiences at the time would have been totally aware of that intense irony.

Mia Farrow in her baby blue nightgown, horror stricken, holding a huge knife in defense. © Paramount Pictures

5 – 1978's THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW went another route. Campy, wild, and absolutely reveling in gender-bending irreverence, it was called "tasteless, plotless, & pointless" by Newsweek.

This footage from '74 shows Tim Curry behind the scenes:

6 – CLEARLY Rocky's legacy was far from pointless. And the costume! I don't have to tell you how life-changing they were for generations.

Sequins, stretch lamé, bondage, corsets, boas… space suits? Every actor owning it every second on screen. Such antici… pation!

7 – 1980 brings my personal trauma, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS, which came from Disney of all places. Featuring one of the original women of horror herself, Bette Davis, this film had the terrifying phrase "NERAK" and a ghostly reflection of a girl in a funhouse mirror.

8 – When I tell you I lost sleep from this film, I don't mean a few hours. I mean DAYS.

The funhouse sequence and that damned pristine cotton white dress & blindfold is etched permanently into my psyche. "HELP ME!"

Trailer is here, if you missed it:

Funhouse mirror of the girl in the blindfold, reaching out saying "HELP ME" over and over again.

9 – You cannot tell me that RETURN TO OZ (1985) is not a horror film. (Granted our VHS was so worn from overuse that the music was completely distorted)

ALSO because of this absolute nightmare: Princess Mombi. Behold that opulence, the gold & velvet. Also spikes. Because…

© Disney - A beautiful woman sitting on a velvet chair with spikes at her collar and a mirrored, Baroque room, playing a small mandolin.

10 – This bitch had a HALL OF HEADS. Beautiful gowns aside, when she felt like it, she just like… PUT ON ANOTHER HEAD. And she wanted Dorothy's. NBD.

Who needs wigs when you have ENTIRE HEADS. I remember being like, "But who were these other women?!?" Disney, WTF.

11 – Speaking of missing heads, BEETLEJUICE (1988) could take an entire thread to itself. As far as I'm concerned, it's a costume masterpiece.

But I'm here to talk about Lydia Deetz. Because, personally, when I saw her on screen as a kid, my weird self felt absolutely SEEN.

Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in BEETLEJUICE, holding a camera, wearing a big,  black hat, her iconic black spider bangs, and all else black. © Warner Brothers

12 – Turns out, at 16, Winona Ryder collaborated directly with costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers on Lydia's outfits–some were Winona's own clothes.

And the famous final outfit? That was all Ryder's idea.

Dance break:

13 – THE WITCHES (1990) served up another kind of "kid-friendly" WTF.

We get the luminous and diabolical Angelica Houston as the titular witch in the adaptation of Roald Dahl's book (known to many, of course, as Morticia Addams). Her bob? Her bangs? Her velvet hat? But also…

Angelica Houston in the Witches with her amazing purple velvet hat, purple stone ring, and black outfit. © Warner Brothers

14 – She. Peels. Off. Her. Face.

(There is so much WRONG in so many WAYS I don't have time to get into the whole thing, and then they made a whole other movie and did the whole thing again.)

Angelica Houston before and after, peeling her head to reveal the horrible ugly witch. Of course. © Warner Brothers

15 – BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA (1992) features Winona Ryder again, but also a delicious Gary Oldman in sumptuous velvets (& muscle armor) with Eiko Ishioka's genius costuming work–for which she won an Academy Award.

I mean, this film is a costuming masterclass. I'm still in awe.

Gary Oldman as Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula in all grey with a topcoat and suit, long waves of brown hair, and black glasses. © Columbia Pictures.

16 – Oldman has to play such a range in the film, and the costuming follows him on that journey–no matter the prosthetics, the dramatics, or the sets.

Ishioka's art & vision almost bring tears to my eyes, honestly. Rarely do you see such a complete story in fabric in film.

17 – Hot on the vampire trend, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (1994) brought us Cruise & Pitt.

But I was all about Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) & that TAFFETA. I'm pretty sure there was about 30 metric tons of taffeta. Sandy Powell just have had to buy in bulk.

18 – Plus we got so much court style dress in this film. Embroidery! Gold floss! Decadence! Bows! Satin!

And Antonio Banderas just *existing* in crushed red velvet like it was his job.

Antonio Banderas. In crushed red velvet. And a long black wig. © Warner Brothers.

19 – PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006) is probably my favorite film? The costuming is a story in and of itself, hearkening to Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and beyond–all while maintaining lush, natural textures that play to the story's deep, difficult subject matter. Speaking of taffeta…

Ofelia ( Ivana Baquero) wearing a green taffeta dress and Alice smock from PAN'S LABYRINTH © Warner Brothers

20 – For me, the film balances *real* world horror with fantasy horror & it gets me every time. The deterioration of the costumes mirrors the deterioration of Ofelia's family & whew. Emotional gut punching.

And this scene, with the silk brocade? Excuse me while I go weep.

Ofelia in her silk brocade gown. © Warner Brothers

21 – BLACK SWAN (2010) scared the living crap out of me. And it's the hat trick for Winona Ryder. I did not go in expecting that a ballerina movie would haunt me for days, but there you go.

The pain of ballet is no secret, and the costumes played up that violence with angles.

Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN, looking straight ahead at the camera, with orange eyes and winged eye makeup, and a crown. She has a net over her head, as if she's been caught, and looks mad. © Fox Searchlight Pictures

22 – With a minimal color palette, the costumers instead used lighting, textures & motion to create that hectic, stifling, out of control sense of strangulation and mistrust in the film. Plus TULLE. Lots of TULLE.

Is it cliché symbolism? YUP. Still effective? Also yup.

Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN, wearing a black, crystal embellished tulle gown and crown. © Fox Searchlight Pictures

23 – ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013) is Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as vampires.

That's it. That's the tweet.

Tom Hiddleston embracing Tilda Swinton. She wears white, he wears black. © Soda Pictures

24 – I would like to say something a bit more intelligent, but really.

Send help (no, don't, it's streaming…)

Tim Hiddleston next to a guitar, with Tilda Swinton on his lap. © Soda Pictures

25 – That's a wrap! For more reading:
Rosemary's Baby (1968)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1978)

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

26 – Return to Oz (1985)

Beetlejuice (1988)
The Witches (1990)

27 – Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Interview With a Vampire (1994)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

28 – Black Swan (2010)

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

29 – What spooky movies still haunt you today? What costumes inspire you?

Thank for joining!

I do have a tip jar (link in bio!) if you feel so inclined. 🎃👻🦇

Now, enjoy this clip of BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA. Poor Keanu.

Originally tweeted by Natania Barron (@NataniaBarron) on October 18, 2021.

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