The 1995 Style issue of Movieline included a look at five Hollywood fashion plates. Unfortunately, the photos that accompanied this article were not archived. I tried to make up for that a bit with some fashionable pictures of the five stars covered here, but the piece definitely loses something without the photographic trip through celebrity fashion. Still, it’s worth taking a peek at who Movieline thought was worth mentioning for their fashion sense midway through the decade.
It seems quaint now, but there was a time when stars had their image crafted for them, invariably without their input, by the studio they were under contract to. The carefully considered choice of roles, scripts, directors and all-important publicity photos went a long way to putting over a player’s personality.
Nowadays, when most stars appear more often at Planet Hollywood openings than they do in the movies, their image is created by the roles they play when they’re out in public pretending they don’t want to be shot by the paparazzi. What they wear–and how they wear it–tells us more about their personalities than they sometimes intend. Herewith, the fashion sense of five stars worth taking another look at.
Geena Davis‘ looks operate at such full tilt that there’s only one way to go with them–further. Any retreat disastrously undercuts their beauty-of-excess beauty. So, the full red lips are best when they’re red red red; the exaggerated cheeks bloom with a big smile. And so it is with Davis from the neck down–her statuesque body is blessed with some true superlatives that pay off like crazy when she’s dressed to emphasize them. The six-foot actress–a bit of excess right there–is voluptuous in the luckiest way; unlike model Anna Nicole Smith, who is described as voluptuous but is really the size of a barn, Davis is curvy where it counts–her breasts and hips–and smartly skinny everywhere else. To the task of dressing up as a movie star, Davis has the most playful sense of fashion in all of Hollywood. She chooses costumes (her clothes for public appearances are seldom just clothes or even just fashion) that do two things: play up the feminine felicities of her physique, and play out the fantasies of the fantasyland she works in. Guiding her is designer Bill Hargate, whose concoctions have sent the cameras hustling at every Academy Awards since 1989, when Davis won raves for her aqua satin fairy-tale princess gown. This Oscar dress and every one since– from the lipstick-red siren number to last year’s slink with the asymmetrically plunging neckline to this year’s puckered-butt-seam extravaganza –has layered charm, humor and sheer glamour onto an essential statement being made about Davis’s body: “Is this a girl or what?” Davis happily risks ridicule with her one-woman anti-Armani campaign, as when she wore her ostrich-savaged-by-runaway-propeller dress at the ’92 Oscars. Was it fun watching her? You bet. (She does, of course, occasionally make over-the-top errors that cannot be rationalized as fun or anything else positive.) What’s cool about Davis is that when she isn’t all dolled up in Hargate gowns, she often wears men’s clothes, in which she looks more feminine than any female who’s ever put on such things. All this being said, there could be a sea change happening before our eyes right now. Since her marriage to director Renny Harlin, Davis has taken to dressing like his twin. Her hair was the image of his messy tresses at this year’s Oscars, but it gets worse: he wears plaid, she wears plaid; he wears a black leather jacket and jeans, she does too. We can only hope this is temporary insanity.
Johnny Depp really wanted to be a rock star, screwed-up eyes and screwed-down hairdo, a leper Messiah–and it shows. In fact, Johnny Depp almost was a rock star. He grew up wailing in garage bands and headed to LA. to make it with his group, The Kids. But then came “21 Jump Street,” and the TV men decided to turn him into a safe, cuddly teen-dream pinup–and you can’t blame them exactly: at his grungiest, he looks like Brandon Walsh slumming, not Sid Vicious. Depp’s been rebelling against that TV hunk image for years, because he was always smarter than that, choosing to play oddball characters for offbeat directors like John Waters, Tim Burton and Lasse Hallstrom. Doing Ed Wood in drag will be Depp’s biggest fuck-you yet to his old image. All this shows in Depp’s style, which is a defiant kind of anti-style. Here he is in a sleeveless T-shirt –that’s “A” for “Anarchy,” babies–Indian head tattoo, leather whatnot encasing his wrist, a plaid shirt wrapped around his waist (and this was 1988, back when “grunge” was just something you attacked with Easy-Off). Then there’s the full-on costume –dapper Edwardian ponce? Or is it Clark Gable from Gone With the Wind? Whatever, it’s outrageous. As for the goatee that comes and goes, the vintage torn and frayed long leather jacket and shades for that Jim Morrison look, the white T-shirts, the ever-growing hair, unwashed and not just hanging in, but literally draping his face, and the work boots and bowling shirt (with hat)–what’s he rebelling against? Those fabulous cheekbones? Depp’s too pretty to be too bad, and he knows it: it doesn’t matter what he shows up wearing– they’ll still go gaga. So he tries the sleazy lounge-lizard look, hair slicked back, and adds the pen in his pocket for perhaps no better reason than that it’s nerdy, fashion nihilism. A lot of the time when you see Depp out on the town these days, he’s well over the edge into disheveled. An out-of-towner might think, gee, why doesn’t this guy pay some attention to his appearance, look in the mirror once in a while? Friends, he does. This look is the work of an expert.
Hard to believe all these pictures are of Demi Moore. She seems to have a different look for each camera pointed at her. This is a woman who reinvents herself for every movie, every magazine cover, and after each child. Moore has always wanted more, perhaps because she started with so little. Her transformation from underprivileged child and self-destructive party girl to major player has been an act of pure will. But look at her in 1982, cute in a just-off-the-bus kind of way. What can you say about that plain white dress, the frosted lips and those sad little white gloves? Nothing good, I’m afraid. It might be a snapshot from her confirmation, except for the gin and tonic. This is Moore Before: before she kicked booze, prior to her first public identity as a Brat Packer. Demi’s mom, legend has it, named her after a beauty product she saw in a magazine. Now Moore is a product of her own creation, and she sells herself well. You can see her, over the years, trying on images like you’d try on outfits. It took her a while to find ones that fit. In 1984 she was still a follower, dressing like a million mall rats in the thankfully brief “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” look inspired by Madonna and Cyndi Lauper: the lace gloves, plastic bracelets, hair band, heavy makeup, bomber jacket and ubiquitous Swatch. And how could you help noticing the woman in the snap from 6-86, for all the wrong reasons? The white maxi-dress and maxi-shag hair put her somewhere between Wynonna Judd and Heart’s Ann Wilson–not a great place to be. Skip ahead a few years to 1989 and notice the change. By this point, Moore had a movie-star husband named Bruce Willis, a baby named Rumer and a development deal at TriStar. She had gotten rid of that oh-well-never-mind college girl hairstyle, but the transformation was more than just cosmetic. Who else but a woman confident of her impending stardom would tempt fate by wearing bicycle shorts to the Oscars? This was the year she decided to make Ghost. After it hit big, Moore was a leading lady and she flaunted it, playing dress-up with a vengeance. When she’s in the public eye these days, she favors the hottest top-of-the-line designers, including Todd Oldham and Comme des Garcons. She’s not one to stick with a single designer, because her message is that she can be/do anything.
A friend of mine once saw Harrison Ford at an art opening where high culture and Hollywood glamour were mingling. In a room full of good looks and glitz, Ford was wearing a simple white jacket and tie, and he was the one your eyes were drawn to, as if by a magnet. He had a glow on him you could see from across the room, enhanced by the fact that he did nothing to enhance it. Classic idols like Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper were self-effacing, if not reluctant, heroes. Ford continues that casual yet dignified tradition today. It sets him apart from Schwarzenegger, Stallone and others who engage in over-strenuous heroics on-screen, and seem a little too greedy for attention offscreen. The stan¬dard look for the well-dressed Hollywood man is the ultra-sleek suit, the flamboyant tie. Ford, when coaxed from his lair in Wyoming to the lights of LA., is likely to show up in a simple, well-tailored jacket, separate pants, shirt (he favors the softer blue over the more formal white) and a subtle, exquisite tie. A suit is a power uniform; Ford doesn’t need one of those. His look is understated, conservative, topped off by boyishly tousled hair, the best coif on a male public icon since JFK. Ford’s stardom came relatively late–he was 35 when Star Wars started it all–but while he seemed never to embrace the trappings or the spotlight, he has been consistent in his public persona. In the ’80s, he was a study in casual masculine style– sports coats, corduroys, shirts buttoned to the top with no tie. Look at him on the fountain by Central Park in winter: a corduroy jacket, wool sweater, jeans, and a cap pulled over his unruly mop– he’s somewhere near 40 and a mega-star, but he might be Holden Caulfield, wondering where the ducks go when the lagoon freezes over. Today, at 52, Ford is surely well dressed, but you wouldn’t call him dapper–that would imply a foppish narcissism–and Ford, we imagine, can pass a mirror without bothering to look. Sometimes it appears he really didn’t look, even at home: observe him receiving one of the ultimate accolades of fame, having his foot and hand prints enshrined in cement outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre. He wears the corporate suit, but his blue shirt undercuts its dark formality. Now, check out the shoes: one bright purple high top, one kelly green. Of course, he doesn’t want the wet cement to muck up a fine pair of shoes, but consider the decision to wear these mismatched clown-like sneakers for all the world to see. Who would ask a hero to be braver than this?
Michelle Pfeiffer is the virtual opposite of Geena Davis in her fashion strategy–Davis’s playful girlie va-va-voom is anathema to the articulated privateness Pfeiffer exudes at every public juncture. Twelve years ago, before she played the exquisite coke doll in Scarface, Pfeiffer was a very pretty, completely undistinguished blonde with a thin upper lip. Go to the bar at the Peninsula and you’ll see this year’s models of what she looked like back then. But even in ’82 you could see the stylistic preferences she would abide by when age, opportunity, experience and a mysteriously plumper upper lip drew the spotlight: non-colors, simple lines, low-key sexiness. By 1985 she’d gotten the Orange County out of her act and added rakish touches like the deliberately careless scarf to her basic black. By 1989, with her Oscar nomination for Dangerous Liaisons and ascension to serious-actress status, the style of her celebrity was refined to a clear, unmistakable pitch–she wore a dressy Armani suit to the Oscars, glamorously understated right down to the sheer gloves. Pfeiffer has always played her professional cards close to the vest (which is how she avoided being typecast and/or underrated), so how inevitable it seems that she should become the perfect silent spokesperson for richly conservative Giorgio Armani, who has clothed her to the great benefit of both parties. Absolutely nobody looks better in Armani than Michelle Pfeiffer, and nobody else uses it to such resonant effect. Armani’s hegemony in Tinseltown in the new age of post-silliness has prompted criticism that the people who adhere to this pricey “uniform” lack imagination and originality. Who knows, on a personal level, maybe Pfeiffer does. But she manages to wear Armani with such a ravished ’30s elegance, such a gorgeous, neurotic mystique (complemented by her perpetually bloodshot eyes and l-just-got-out-of-bed hair) that in the public arena, she projects a persona that is alluring in its very elusive-ness. She is, after all, Catwoman, all covered up in a costume of basic black, inside of which she’s lethally alive. Moreover, since Armani’s clothes don’t scream “sexy” in their cut or color, the vaguely decadent eroticism Pfeiffer radiates when she wears them reads as all hers, not Armani’s.