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Fashion Film Fun: beyond "Blade Runner"

The fashion world, sci-fi fanatics, and theater buffs alike are eagerly anticipating the long-awaited sequel to the iconic 1982 movie Blade Runner. Director Ridley Scott's masterpiece set the gold standard for the stylish genre of neo-noir films. Not only has it been referred to in myriad ways by filmmakers since, but it has also been influencing runways and trendsetters on the fashion scene since its debut in 1982. In fact our own 'Shanghai Dream' trend projected for A/W 2017-18 is heavily influenced by the punk-infused cultural mix that imbues the film.

rooftop scene in thriller film Frantic

Style: The human characters, even Deckard himself, are as devoid of empathy as the replicants he has been charged to hunt down. Tyrell, the inventor of the replicants, plays a god-like figure who creates these creatures, but has little love for them and is happy to watch their tragedy unfold in a detatched way. The isolation and loneliness of the film is unavoidable since none of the characters truly trust one another.

The sets convey the feeling of a bleak and uncertain future populated by desperate characters. It is continually raining on the filthy cityscape and the lighting is pure film noir - long dark shadows cast on features of characters and scenery, clouds of smoke and steam filling the screen, and slants of light and gaudy neon signage only partially illuminating emotions, motives, etc. An atmosphere of "big brother" pervades with propaganda-like announcements being blasted from blimps and loudspeakers. There is an overall feeling of decrepitude and black-market corruption. The set design is an amazing mash-up of a silk route crossroads with a modern dystopia: steamy and gritty urban streets, neon chaos, culture clash of multi ethnic denizens, futuristic desperados, and a pervasive nihilistic punk rock influence. The language itself dubbed "cityspeak" is a mix of Japanese, Korean, German, and other slang.

Costumes: The costume designers, Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, did a superb job creating costumes heavily influenced by on the canon of 40's noir, but also feeling very contemporary in keeping with the futuristic setting of the film. There are plenty of punk references and street styling mixed in to mirror what was burgeoning in the fashion scene when the film debuted. Daryl Hannah's punk princess costumes for Pris (described as a "basic pleasure model"), and Joanna Cassidy's sexy costumes for Zohora reflect the decadent and seedy side of the underworld. Sean Young's high-end 40's influenced suiting, fur coats, and flawless hair and makeup reflect her status as Tyrell's top assistant, Rachel. Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, takes a page out of the books of Bogart, Robert Mitchum, and other noir detectives and private investigators. He is world-weary, and slightly rumpled, but pulls it off with magnificent style. The other characters that populate the film - Tyrell (Joe Turkel), Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Gaff (Edward James Olmos), all have their signature styles that reflect their characters' sensibilities and standing in this grim world.

click through the slideshow below for more details on sets and costumes:


Noir lineage: There have been hundreds, maybe thousands of articles, blog posts, even books written to dissect and analyze Blade Runner to the enth degree. Simply doing a Google search will have you in reading up to your eyeballs. What is really intriguing to me, though, is the film as a sort of homage to the golden age of noir films. From early the 40's to mid-50's, this genre dominated the box office and burned its aesthetic into the style sensibilities of the fashion world. The long list of all-time favorites includes such gems as: Mildred Pierce, Gun Crazy, Laura, Double Indemnity, To Have and To Have Not, Lady from Shanghai, Gilda, Possessed....I could go on and on. Women's styles defined by nipped waists, exaggerated shoulder pads, trim jackets, pencil skirts, polished blouses, and audacious red lips were worn by such famous leading ladies as Joan Crawford, Eva Marie-Saint, Barbara Stanwick, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Davis. Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Orson Wells, James Cagney are just a handful of the male actors whose onscreen (and off-screen) style had a large impact on men's fashion. It wasn't even so much what they wore: the crisp suits, leather aviator jackets, camel coats, fedoras, and of course trench coats; these pieces were all classic menswear at the time. It was how they wore them that resonated - the cavalier attitude with which they carried themselves and the slightly rumpled and jaded demeanor which the clothes underscored. Everybody loves a rogue.

These style icons and the formidable costumers that dressed them laid a foundation for all noir that followed. Future Noir and Neo Noir still smack of that same worldliness and pervasive sex appeal. More current noir films such as The Postman Always rings Twice, Chinatown, and more recently, Sin City, The Last Seduction, The Usual Suspects, and Drive - all these owe a huge debt to their predecessors.

click through the slideshow below to see some iconic styles of 40's noir:


We are very excited to see how the new film influences fashion this year and beyond!

Shanghai Dream is our take on this aesthetic. Take a peek at our trend board below and visit our site for more insights on trends and prints to come.

Shanghai Dream fashion and print trend Fall 2017 - 2018

We leave you with a film clip below to get you in the mood for the new film's premier coming this fall.

How are YOU planning on interpreting this trend?

sources: Silver Screen Modes| textless movie posters| imdb | Esquire | Guardian

* We intend no copyright infringement by displaying images from other sources on our site. Unless otherwise noted, all images are the property of their respective owners.

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