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's 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 (3-90) to last year's slink with the asymmetrically plunging neckline (3-93) to this year's puckered-butt-seam extravaganza (3-94)--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, as in the shot from 2-92.) 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 (5-88)--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 (1-91)--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 (1-91,2-91, 2-94), the vintage torn and frayed long leather jacket and shades for that Jim Morrison look (4-93), the white T-shirts, the ever-growing hair, unwashed and not just hanging in, but literally draping his face (3-92), and the work boots and bowling shirt (2-94, 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 (12-93), 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.
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