The Favourite is not your typical period drama, flaunting grandiose palace courts and larger-than-life gowns for two hours straight. It’s a marvellous concoction of excess, but remove the frivolous tea-drinking etiquettes and add in some lesbian lust, political manipulation, and black humour, and you get Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’s new movie.
Lanthimos – also known for his dystopian black comedy The Lobster (2015) – teamed up with screenwriter Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara and cinematographer Robbie Ryan – who worked in the 2016 critically-acclaimed film I, Daniel Blake – to take on the behind-the-scenes power triangle of the House of Stuart monarchy in early 18th century Great Britain.
War with France rages while home-grown power battles take place in the English palace reimagined in Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. The tragi-comedy tells the story of the frail and temperamental Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), whose heart is far away from the affairs of state, but is instead on her 17 rabbits and her confidante, advisor and secret lover Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz). The power dynamic shifts as Sarah’s fallen-from-grace younger cousin Abigail Hill (Emma Stone) seeks employment in the palace, and strategically works her way to become the Queen’s favourite.
While the music is beautifully placed throughout the film, what’s also notable in the film is the costumes designed by Sandy Powell, who also dressed Tilda Swinton in Orlando (1992), Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love (1998), as well as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Carol (2015).
Queen Anne can’t be bothered to dress up and prefers the comfort of nightgowns even in the daytime unless made to present herself in a regal ermine-covered gown while addressing to her court. However, Sarah’s contrasting wardrobe of “feminine” gowns and “masculine” attires, as well as Abigail’s style transformation from maid to Baroness, become unmissable fashion highlights in the film, while the two male supporting characters played by Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn are ironically dressed flamboyantly and in heavy makeup.
Brilliant performances from three powerful and complex female protagonists is captured with wide lens effect that gives off the feeling that we’re peeking into the palace through a fishbowl. Memorable scenes include Abigail and Baron Samuel Masham (Alwyn)’s “unconventionally-playful” romantic scene in the woods, and the theatrical sequence weaved together with Abigail’s spiked tea scheme and court jester “entertainment” in slow motion.
And let’s not forget the quiet but powerful final scene with Queen Anne and Abigail (and the rabbits, of course), which left the audience in silence for a good minute, before the final credit rolls and bursts of discussion fill the cinema.
The Favourite hits UK cinemas from January 1st, 2019.
*This article is originally published on _shiftlondon
Legendary Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci died on Monday at the age of 77, leaving behind the legacy that had us rethinking beauty, politics and fashion
Italian movie director Bernardo Bertolucci had a 56-year-long career that is worthy of a cinematic storytelling of its own. After dropping out of the University of Rome where he aimed to become a poet like his father Attilio Bertolucci, the then-20-year-old assisted Pier Paolo Pasolini in the making of Pasolini’s first feature film Accattone (1961). It was not long before he picked up his own camera and made his directing debut at Venice Film Festival with The Grim Reaper (1962).
Bertolucci entered the international limelight with The Conformist (1970), a beautiful interrogation of the political conformity and repressed sexuality in Mussolini’s Italy. But what really shot him to stardom and covered him with notoriety is Last Tango in Paris (1972). Starring Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, the erotic drama depicted the anonymous sexual affair between American widower Paul (Brando) and a young French woman, Jeanne (Schneider).
Last Tango drew controversy for its raw portrayal of sexual domination and emotional manipulation in a twisted relationship, and led to national censorships. His most famous and infamous film would continue to haunt his reputation as Schneider said in 2007 that she “felt a little raped” and real tears were shed during the scene where Brando’s character forced himself on her, using butter as lubricant.
It wasn’t until almost ten years later that Bertolucci released a statement confirming that while Schneider was on the same page about the violence in the scene, the use of butter was withheld from her to stimulate real feelings of “the rage and humiliation”. Since then, critics and cinema goers have been re-evaluating the trust and betrayal between director and performer.
After a couple of commercial flops, Bertolucci made his big comeback with the 1987 The Last Emperor, a biopic following the life of Puyi, a Chinese child-emperor at three years old, national exile at 18, later a Japanese puppet state leader, and eventually a commoner of the new republic. The ground-breaking film was the biggest winner at the 1988 Academy Awards, bringing home all nine nominations including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Bertolucci’s films often depict protagonists at life’s intersections, caught in the struggle of societal ideology and the pursuit of love, beauty and enlightenment. But his sensual and stylistic cinematic language tells the world that in the end, we’re all human.
So it came as no surprise that Bertolucci participated in Fashion Revolution’s anti-sweatshop campaign #whomademyclothes, which brought attention to the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.
This led to the observation that, although with such rich cultural heritage, the Italian auteurs never seem to flaunt their fashion even in the prime period. However, weaved into the poetically grandeur imagery and history-book-worthy performances, the aesthetic is self-evident.
Even deep in the arthouse movement, Italian fashion has shone through the post-war idealism: the classic wardrobe of the strapless gravity-defying black dress worn by Anita Ekberg and Marcello’s sophisticated suiting in the Fellini classic La Dolce Vita (1960) won designer Piero Gherardi an Oscar; Adriana Berselli’s dressing for Monica Vitti in Michaelangelo Antonioni’s first film from his iconic trilogy, L’avventura (1960) made Vitti the muse of Italian cinema.
As for Bernardo Bertolucci, whose start of the career rode on the end of the wave of the cinema Renaissance, also didn’t fail to contribute to the great line of tradition with his romantic drama The Dreamers (2003). Set in the 1968 Paris student riots, the film features quirky styles for the American student Matthew (played by Michael Pitt) and French siblings Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green and Louis Garrel).
Eva Green’s first leading role also established her as a style icon with the classic images of the emerald green velvet dress paired with a bright red beret, the ultra-sheer floral dress, posing as the Venus de Milo in evening gloves, and with a cigarette dangling in her mouth almost throughout the film.
Gilles Jacob, the former president of the Cannes Film Festival expressed the sadness over losing “the last emperor of Italian cinema, the lord of all epics and all escapades” in a statement. In mourning of the great master, it’s important that we celebrate the sensual yet enlightening cinema and rethink the messages and controversy in the films that couldn’t be made by any other than Bernardo Bertolucci.
*This article is originally published on _shiftlondon
I don’t really wear slogan T-shirts because they make me feel like a walking billboard. Putting on my “WTF is a Haim” tee, however, thrills me. I could channel all the 70s California girl coolness and walk down the street with Haim’s effortless rock-pop sound as background music. That’s the magic of band T-shirts, and especially those from a music group with such savvy sense of style – and attitude.
Music and fashion has gone hand in hand for Haim since a very young age. Growing up in San Fernando Valley in California, the three sisters—Este, Danielle and Alana, immersed themselves in vintage fashion and found inspiration in badass musical goddesses from the 70s like Debbie Harry and Stevie Nicks (who later became a mentor to them).
They’ve come to be known for the signature Haim ‘look’ with their sun-kissed, loosely-wavy long locks, and sunglasses. A lot of sunglasses (as exhibited on both of their album covers and, well, almost every Instagram post).
Their ensemble is harmonious together but each sibling stands out in their own ways. Mod skater-cut miniskirts and wrap dresses are go-to choices for 32-year-old Este, who’s famous for her “bassface”, a term for the crazy expression she pulls when performing (there’s even a twitter handle dedicated to it @estebassface). Whereas Danielle, the 29-year-old lead vocalist and guitarist, who actually went solo for a couple of years before the band’s conception, fashions quite a lot of slouchy power suiting and androgynous chic.
Alana, aka baby Haim, 26, who plays guitar and keyboard, wanders in the tomboyish middle ground. “We’re like three puzzle pieces, we have to fit together—until we find that balance, we have to just keep trying,” she told ELLE Australia. But just like any other sisters, they steal from each other’s closets.
This September marks the drop of Haim’s debut album, Days Are Gone, five years ago. Since the internationally-popular and critically-acclaimed release, they have also entered the fashion industry’s radar: Sitting front row at Clare Waight Keller’s Chloé Fall 2014 show in Paris. Check. Walking down the red carpet with Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy at 2016’s Met Gala for ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology’ wearing their monotone lace column dresses. Super casual check. Getting dressed by Diane von Furstenberg to attend the 2017 CFDA Awards in Jonathan Saunder’s designs—the list just goes on and the checks get bigger.
But let’s not forget the looks they rock when they’re actually rocking out.
“We want to wear things that make us feel like the superhero versions of ourselves,” Danielle told British Vogue. “Being on stage it’s so important to feel like your best self, because it brings out the performance”.
They tend to go for more casual and playful outfits at music festivals, but are also not afraid to dress it up as they performed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City for the 2017 Guggenheim International Gala Pre-Party all dressed in head-to-toe red by Dior.
As for now, the power-trio is almost at the end of their Sister Sister Sister World Tour. But they’re nowhere near stopping. From watching the sister act whether on stage or in interviews, you know they’re having the ride of their life, music and fashion fuelling them all the way.