Although the concept of Fashion Film is considered a relatively new art form, it's no new trend for filmmakers to rely heavily on their costumes to convey the message of their movie. Attending ASVOFF inspired us to share a series of our own favorite films which have had a strong fashion influence and in some cases have even exerted their own influence on trends. Every second Saturday, we will be featuring one of our personal favorites which feature impactful fashion. This month we chose Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover as our go-to recommendation.
The film centers around an English gangster and his daily criminal activity, which takes place at a high-class French restaurant. His wife, Georgina (played by the incomparable Helen Mirren), is having an affair with a bookshop owner named Michael. The chef of the French restaurant, Richard Boarst, helps the wife and her lover carry on their affair throughout the film, despite the consequences he might face defying Albert's reign of terror.
All of the characters's costumes were designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. The most elaborate of them all are Georgina's, which change colors based on the room she is in - red for the dining hall, white for the bathroom, and green for the kitchen, allowing her to blend in any setting. The changes of color reflect the mood dynamics of each space: red representing Albert's constant bouts of violence and rage in the room where he dines, while the white bathroom is seen more as a place of respite and peace. Her camouflaging appearance can be interpreted to symbolize her secret rendezvous with her extramarital lover. Despite how extravagantly dressed Georgina and every other character in the restaurant is (except for Michael), they are not shielded from Albert's voracious appetite for chaos and violence. The fraught emotions and tension play out in the restaurant, building to a crescendo. The final the scenes are not for the faint of heart, but the sublime costumes make it easier to stomach.