Northwest Film Forum and Seattle Met recently brought us Screen Style, a collection of fashiony movies chosen by fashiony influencers, and propelled by an evening of fashiony discussion. Seattle Art Museum deputy director Chiyo Ishikawa picked Shampoo, a celebrity-packed tragicomic romance, where everyone gets involved with everyone. Mixed together are wives and concubines, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends, pretty boys and not-pretty boys. Sex floats around loosely in all scenes, changing its value and churning the air into paste, yet the plot twists smartly along and the characters are refreshingly complicated: "They can be silly and superficial, but you can still see the human ache they embody," says Ishikawa during our telephone interview.
Warren Beatty plays the oppressively relaxed George, a hairstylist whose strongest desire is to escape the beauty salon—a glaring and hectic place, all ringing phones and pushy bosses. George pairs a peasant blouse with slinky bell-bottom jeans and a low-slung medallion belt, but his most striking feature is his turgid shag, rising up from his head like brown meringue.
As George's girlfriend Jill, Goldie Hawn wears a charmingly bizarre dress that "looks like baby pajamas," says Ishikawa. It's velour, with the raglan sleeves of a football jersey, and is hemmed real high so "it's about two inches long," she says, while the powerfully unsexy two-tone palette sets mustard yellow against hamburger-patty brown. Jill wears it to a work meeting, which seems too wild to be real, but then she gets an important job, and we see that she's not as fluffy as we immediately thought. (In a great final scene, we watch Jill as George's betrayal both flattens and deepens her. She lets go of him easily.)
Julie Christie plays the crisply lovely Jackie, a well-kept paramour in sequined gowns and gold chains, who bleaches and back-combs and stiffens her hair into bulbed shapes. These details might be signifiers of Jackie's moneyed obliviousness, since the story occurs in 1968—a time of war protests and dangling love beads and leather fringe and body paint. But who knows. Shampoo came out in 1975, so perhaps these styles were less deliberate, like the frilled tuxedo shirts and palazzo trousers that leak into view and filter the movie's illusion, just as mid-century westerns featured 1860s-era cowgirls in bouffants and bullet bras, and 1980s prehistory dramas had cavewomen with perms and shimmery purple eye shadow.
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