• Olivia Stalker

Fashion Film Fun: Tainted love...the mystique of the outlaw couple

An intense and desperate type of love is shared in the iconic outlaw couple. Built on unwavering loyalty, devotion, and passion, their relationship is often rooted in a need to belong and be understood. These couples share a fatalistic bond, which they test by skirting the rules and norms of society; forcing themselves into an us-against-the-world dependency. The thrills they pursue in acts of defiance and violence cement their bond and fan the flames of their ardor.

Their riveting stories, rife with sexually charged energy and often gruesome outcomes, are a natural subject for Hollywood to explore. The high-paced films of these couples' exploits leave the viewers wondering which the characters crave more, excitement or each other, and have us rooting for the anti-heroes along the way.

Below we examine a few of the most stylish films based on notorious couples.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Director: Arthur Penn | Starring: Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway

The 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde brings the story of the most notorious outlaw couple to the big screen. Director Arthur Penn grabs the audience's attention by making the on-the-run lifestyle the couple lives appear both adventurous and glamorous. It debuted to much controversy since it glamorized the story of real life outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and showed more on screen violence than any other film of its time. It's no wonder that Bonnie (Faye Dunaway), a small town Texas girl, is as much intrigued by Clyde's (Warren Beatty) need to scheme as she is charmed by his good looks and dashing style. Together, they decide to defy the gloomy way of life instilled by the Great Depression and set out on a life of crime, which promises them anything but boredom. Along the way the pair falls in love; their tainted love defies the confines of typical romance, as they are linked not only by their rebellious natures but also by the crimes they commit. Until their last breath, their loyalty stands unshaken.

This film not only gained notoriety for its story-line, but also for its seductive style. The way in which Bonnie and Clyde dress makes their criminal lifestyle appear glamorous. They stand in stark contrast with the grim Depression-era setting not only in dress, but also in their exuberant mood. Bonnie even cultivates a more sophisticated and glamorous demeanor as the film plays on; transitioning from naive white dresses and blouses to more low cut tops, a sophisticated windowpane trench coat and of course her neck scarf and beret tipped just so. Clyde sports dapper three piece suits, and a classic fedora, with a gun holster as a permanent accessory. They are proud of their identity and dress the part, even finding joy in being recognized for their crimes. Bonnie and Clyde embody 1930's elegance even while running from the law. Since the film's debut their look has been the inspiration for many designers, and other artists such as singer Serge Gainsbourg and their outlaw style has even influenced countless fashion editorials. Bonnie and Clyde was able to make the life of a criminal appear glamorous and desirable, not an easy feat.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

Director: Oliver Stone | Starring: Woody Harrelson & Juliette Lewis

Natural Born Killers is another Hollywood movie which follows a couple's path from outcasts, to lovers, to killers. The 1994 film directed by Oliver Stone shows the fatal side of love, and the calamitous ways in which loyalty and commitment can be used. Micky (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) start their killing spree with the murder of Mallory's abusive father, and from there begin a trail of crimes which leaves the media on the edge of their seat waiting for the next incident to occur. This psychotic couple turns their lifestyle into a game and cultivates their notorious reputation by leaving one witness at each scene to relay the story to the public. With no motives of money or revenge they simply kill just for kicks. Their undying yet twisted love seals their catastrophic fate as they have committed to each other for life.

Throughout the movie Micky and Mallory find pleasure in dressing flamboyantly and maintained their badass images. Their style is quintessential American rebel: Micky dresses in a black leather biker jacket and jeans with ostentatious belt buckles and sunglasses, while Mallory spends much of her time in crop tops, and shorts or jeans, with studded chokers, crazy earrings, or scarves (a nod to Bonnie, perhaps?). When she does wear a sweet print or dress, it feels ironic, as if she is daring you to make the mistake that she is an innocent girl to be underestimated. There are several scenes in which they wear red alluding to their murderous and passionate temperaments. Both criminals dress to captivate media and public attention and use their rebellious style to attain iconic status.

Badlands (1973)

Director: Terrence Malick | Starring: Martin Sheen & Sissy Spacek

Loosely based on true events, the movie Badlands directed by Terrence Malick follows a couple who embarks on a life of crime in hopes of finding happiness along their spree. When Holly (Sissy Spacek), just a teenager begins dating a much older James Dean type character named Kit (Martin Sheen), she is instantly intrigued by his rebellious ways. Kit impulsively murders Holly's sign-painter father because of his disapproval of their relationship, and the lovers are forced to flee with bounty hunters on their trail. The couple so in love that Holly is willing to run from the law with Kit, and he is willing to murder for Holly's safety.

Holly manages to maintain her innocent image even while accompanying her boyfriend on a cross-country killing spree. She does not sacrifice her youthful and pure persona and in fact, that is fitting with the dynamic of their relationship as Kit is all consumed with protecting her. Holly's costuming in flared skirts, peter pan collars, and layered eyelet blouses maintain her innocent image throughout the entirety of the film even though she is an accomplice of sorts. For his part, Kit's style is down to earth and yet rebellious in true James Dean style. It is not so much the white t-shirt, jeans and denim jacket that he wears throughout the film that gives him this appearance as it is the bravado with which he wears them and how he carries himself. He is obsessed with making his mark in the world and not being forgotten, and this is the only motivation one can really perceive for his delinquent nature and murderous acts.

Though these films deal with shocking behaviors on the art of the main characters and follow gruesome events, the essence of their romance is undeniable. Many movies revolve around love stories, but the trajectory of these ill-fated romances are truly unique to lovers who have built the foundations of their relationship on the premise that it is them versus the rest of the world. Their impulsive and violent behavior pushes them to live pursued by the law and on the fringes of society; it is not a sustainable plan and in every case ends in tragedy for the main characters. The audience is often torn watching their inevitable fate after having been won over by their naive charm and dashing style. Today these characters are not only associated with crime sprees and fleeing from the law, but also the fashionable ensembles in which they sported while doing so.

SPOILER ALERT: Watch the final scene of Bonnie and Clyde to see how loyal the couple remains up until their last moments.

Who is your favorite outlaw couple? Let us know!

Other Sources: IMDB | Dmagazine | YouTube | Refinery29

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