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Pretty in Pink's Volcanic Ensembles

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Pretty in Pink is an emotionally saturated journey involving teens and love triangles and giant shoulder pads and vast social gaps, with everyone suffering their way into wisdom. The 1986 John Hughes film played at Central Cinema recently, though if you missed it, rent the DVD from Scarecrow Video. They've got the Everything's Duckie Edition, which is jammed with extras: stills, cut footage, boring interviews with boring celebrities.

But there's also Volcanic Ensembles, a mini-documentary about the movie's apparel, and this is worth watching. Jon Cryer describes his character Duckie's style: Costumer Marilyn Vance's "whole thing was, let's just put things together that should never ever be put together." This included eccentric prints and layers and multiple plaids, accessorized with scuffed pickle winkers, military emblems, and hair arranged in slanting poofs, to bring a new-wave-Teddy-Boy-Fonzarelli-lumberjack-drum-majorette-in-garage-sale-pajamas effect.

Lots happens on-screen. Playing Andie, Molly Ringwald's face is blank, while her insides swirl with dignity. Her style is an accumulation of grandmotherly items—white tights, pearl-buttoned cardigans, doily collars, errant florals—and for this, her peers mock the shit out of her. Andie works after school or hangs out, making neat stuff in her gauzy pink bedroom and staring into the photograph her mother left behind when she split without explanation. She takes care of her father, too, portrayed by Harry Dean Stanton. He's a nice guy but a sad sack, and in just about every scene, he's shrouded in a rumpled beige bathrobe. When its chest falls open, it reveals his rumpled beige skin.

There are plenty more fashion moments, including a nice sampling of vintage rich-kid douchewear: the pleat-front slacks, the pastels, the pillowy hair. As Iona, Annie Potts wears a black latex gown the texture of industrial rubber bands. "I'd have to flip it up and release my lower body from the struggle of that dress," she says in the documentary. Most notable is Andie's home-sewing montage, set to New Order's zappy "Thieves Like Us." Limited in skills and budget, but propelled by the strange mental clarity you get when someone fucks you over, Andie builds a prom ensemble that's so ugly, it actually becomes charming, what with its blend of polka dots and bare shoulders and barbaric droopiness. recommended

 

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thatsnotright 1
It's winkle pickers for the shoes isn't it? Aside from this article there is only one reference for pickle winkers in the entire internet.
Posted by thatsnotright on February 28, 2014 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Fnarf 2
Yes, they are named for the little pin with which one picks winkles (periwinkles) out of their shells.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 3, 2014 at 10:23 AM · Report this
Fnarf 3
However, I think Duckie's shoes would more accurately be described as "brothel creepers". They're not pointy enough to be winkle pickers.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM · Report this
4
what I love about Pretty in Pink is that the fashion is a slightly more extreme version of what teenagers were actually wearing at the time - vintage wear was coming into fashion, and the plaid-upon-paisley-upon polka dot crisp shirts with vests was all the rage - with the notable exception of that hideous prom dress, which Andie would never, ever have created and/or worn.

And as usual, Hughes makes the most interesting/creative character (Iona) submit to the commercial style majority in order to find true happiness (see also: Allison, The Breakfast Club). Grrrrr.
Posted by genevieve on March 3, 2014 at 11:04 AM · Report this
pg13 5
"Pretty In Pink" suffers from what I now refer to as "Studio 60 Syndrome"--though, obviously, it dates back from ages before the least loved Aaron Sorkin series.

In "Studio 60 From the Sunset Strip", we were supposed to experience the backstage world of the world's smartest, funniest and most important sketch comedy show. The problem was, Sorkin isn't the smartest or funniest sketch comedy writer...so, proof of the show within a show's value came from dialog written to have people SAY that it was a smart, funny and important show.

...and that doesn't work.

So, in "Pretty In Pink"...Andie is supposed to be amazing at clothing design...and the whole movie builds up to the amazing pink prom dress she's going to create (the whole movie was created by Hughes for Molly Ringwald because she liked--but didn't understand--the Psychedelic Furs song that would give the movie its title).

In the mindset of the film, Andie's dress HAS to be amazing. It is the full-flowering of her sense of self-worth in the face of societal rejection.

She shouldn't have ended up with Blane...but, she needn't have ended up with Duckie either.

(It was important for me, at the time, that Hollywood occasionally pointed out that just because you pine for the girl of your dreams doesn't mean you end up with her...a point that St. Elmo's Fire, actually did well with. Jesus, was Andrew McCarthy typecast as the sad puppy that couldn't blink or what?)

Andie should have been proud to be herself.

And Iona's self-betrayal should have strengthened Andie's resolve to stay herself...rather than show her that she might be happier if she'd just compromise everything she believes herself to be.)

Instead, she ruins a dress and thinks herself brilliant.

Maybe, subversively, "Pretty In Pink" was ended up (despite the intentions of those who wrote it, directed it and acted in it) being exactly the movie that my generation deserved.

Because, maybe, the real moral of "Pretty In Pink" was: It doesn't matter what clothes you wear or what music you listen to...you're not as special or as brilliant as you think you are...and at some point in time in your life, money is going to matter."

And don't cry for Duckie. He got to sleep with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or he came out. Either one is a happy ending.
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Posted by pg13 on March 3, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this

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