Ball So Hard
by James Tuttle
Over the weekend, I took Scott—or The Gimp, as he is known since fucking up his Achilles tendon last week—and braved the democratic hordes of Universal CityWalk with his crutches to catch the new Avengers movie. This was a happy accident since it happens to be Shoot Your Heroes Week here at PFC.
We’d have normally wandered down the hill to the super-luxe Arclight Cinemas but the movie wasn’t playing there and Disney’s beautifully restored El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard wanted $30 a ticket, which they’ll get from me the day they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Universal is just over the hill, though it sometimes seems light years away culturally. It’s really not so bad once you get the hang of the labyrinthine parking structure and the Mexican kids playing in their underwear in any available water feature.
Our own Eric Baker did a fine job of summing up this enjoyable film with the weekly wrap-up on Sunday and I agree with his opinion that the second part where the heroes have been assembled and are trying to work around their nearly insurmountable egos is definitely the highlight. I think I liked Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov character more than he did, probably because her name suggests that she’s descended from the martyred last Czar of Russia and that her interrogation technique, with which she makes the subject believe they have the upper hand as they spill all the pertinent information, reminds me of something I would do.
Though ostensibly an ensemble piece, Robert Downey, Jr. does kind of steal the film with most of the best lines and the most interesting superhero special power stuff and he looks really good on camera, especially compared to the homeless chic he sports when I see him around Beverly Hills some mornings. Most disappointing were Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans as Thor and Captain America, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, their acting was just fine and they looked great in their costumes except that Thor’s hair looked like it overdosed on leave-in conditioner, but how can you work so hard to get that buff just to leave your clothes on the whole movie? Seriously, the only person to get naked was skinny Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and who the fuck wants to see that?
As PFC’s resident fashion and lifestyle ‘expert,’ I tried to pay close attention to the sets and costumes and a few things really did stand out. The costumes were all perfectly suitable and didn’t pull focus from the film, which should be a goal of costume designers everywhere. It can’t be easy to put an actor in an American flag outfit or Norse armor and make it look like he belongs in it. The exception was Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character, who was dressed perfectly for The Matrix in his long black leather coats but seemed a little out of place directing a team of superheroes from the deck of an enormous, gleaming airship.
This airship, too, was a little too stupendous for it’s own good but I liked the clean, open atrium feel of the command center. It’s nice of airship designers to take into consideration how much time these fictional characters must spend navigating this floating city around and give them a futuristic Las Vegas hotel lobby of their very own. Also well done was Tony Stark/Ironman’s penthouse apartment. A little mid-twentieth century and a lot mid-twenty-first century, the design was perfect balance for a high-tech billionaire with a soft spot for good scotch. And can we talk about those crystal highballs?
All those people running around in spandex made me think of the Met Ball a few years ago that actually had a superhero theme that challenged fashion types and socialites to come up with some way to translate Wonder Woman cuffs and primary colors into suitable evening looks. If I remember correctly, not many of them succeeded, but the yellow column gown from Atelier Versace that January Jones wore to this year’s event would have fit in perfectly.
The Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art—hence the “Met Ball” nickname—brought together all these luminaries this past Monday night to commemorate the exhibit Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations. The looks on the Museum’s red carpet, however, were more like “When Bad Dresses Happen to Beautiful Women” because I’ve never seen Jessica Chastain and stunning Victoria’s Secret models Candace Swanepoel and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley look more ordinary. At least it clued us in to what celebrities and their stylists are favoring for next season.
Of course, there was a lot of Prada being worn, from Anna Wintour in her fitted cream gown with the lobster on her ass and Mrs. Miuccia herself on down to Carey Mulligan and Eva Mendes, but I think Diane Kruger in voluminous cobalt blue trimmed in ostrich feathers was the best of this lot. Since Schiaparelli (pronounced “Skia-pa-relli” and you’re welcome) hasn’t produced anything since 1954, a few people paid tribute through her signature color of hot pink. Actress Amber Heard nailed it in glamorous strapless satin Zac Posen but model Karlie Kloss showed up with designer Jason Wu in something he made in the car on the way over.
Another big trend was the sheer fabrics that we saw a lot in the fall collections but it somehow looked better on the catwalks of Milan and Paris than on real people at a benefit. Imagine that. Nevertheless, we must give credit to Florence Welch for at least trying in white layered Alexander McQueen, Marion Cotillard for the strapless Christian Dior and Heidi Klum for wearing a grey sheer lace Escada thing that looked she wrapped some lace from downtown around a Forever21 mini-dress.
I was a bit more partial to the floral looks that were interpreted in a few different ways. Sarah Jessica Parker and Lily Collins both wore somewhat prim, beautiful long-sleeved Valentino Couture gowns, Anna Wintour’s daughter Bee Shaffer and model Arizona Muse represented the Peggy Guggenheim-inspired Erdem collection, but SNL’s hilarious Kristen Wiig kind of killed it in orange floral lace Stella McCartney.
In color, yellow was a big deal and metallic gold or silver was all over the place, but too often in heavy-looking draped-and-sequined “goddess” gowns like the one-shoulder Michael Kors on Jessica Alba and Debra Messing’s plunging neckline by someone called Kaufman Franco. Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev worked a black and gold Donna Karan Atelier with a great neckline and long train beautifully but the real star in this category goes to Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester in light, radiant Marchesa.
If you’re the gambling kind, though, put your money on black. Most of the best dressed were in black, which reflects what we saw on Milan’s fall runways: Kate Bosworth and Linda Evangelista wore very different versions of black from Prada, but neither were impressive; Rihanna’s tight black crocodile Tom Ford number was just okay; Giselle Budchen and Rooney Mara did pretty well in Givenchy but Alicia Keys and Liv Tyler, sadly, didn’t. The standouts here were Carine Roitfeld with a plunging neckline and sky-high slit (yet perfectly age-appropriate) Givenchy Couture, Renee Zellweger in dramatic Emilio Pucci and my pick for best dressed: Cate Blanchett in feathers-to-the-neck Alexander McQueen.
Finally, I’m sorry to announce that a few Hot Mess Citations must be issued. Whenever I see crazy, outrageous shit come down the runway that could be worn nowhere else, I routinely say “Well, someone can wear it to the Met Ball,” but that’s apparently not always the case and, this week, Italians were definitely not doing it better. Bianca Brandolini in a completely gold-sequined gown and matching gold-sequined cape and Giovanna Battaglia in a nutty ecclesiastically inspired embroidered get-up both by Dolce and Gabanna were hot messes if I ever saw one. Luckily, I have no idea who either of these women are so I will hopefully never see them again. Marc Jacobs in his sheer black lace dress over tighty-whiteys, on the other hand, better get his shit together because we believe in him to keep making beautiful clothes and I’ve been known to slap a ho for less than that. Trust.