Call me snobbish, but there’s nothing I loathe more than bad art—in all its forms. I’m one of those people who will read reviews and spoilers on a film before seeing it. And maybe that’s excessive, but I see curating the art I absorb like curating great secondhand clothing. At the end of the day, we have a limited amount of resources, so why waste them consuming bad things? Which is why, as a picky person, I’ve been overly delighted as of late by what’s been happening on-screen.
Sure, many shows and films have been snubbed this award season, but the fashion has been worthy of its own recognition. Ahead, I’ve rounded up some of the most stylish characters to grace the screens (and what I’d suspect is in their shopping cart); they may not get a Golden Globe, but their style has both inspired and challenged how wardrobes play a fundamental role both on-screen and off in the lives of us all.
Killing Eve: Villanelle
I’ve always been a fan of female assassins, but Villanelle on Killing Eve brought me to another level of fandom. Played by award-winning actress Jodie Comer, the multitalented Villanelle speaks to me not only because she can stab a man with a hairpin and speak multiple languages fluently with ease, but also because her desire for decadence takes center stage in the form of designer pieces. She lacks emotional empathy, but somehow Villanelle’s gravitation to a pink 3.1 Phillip Lim coat humanizes her. You better believe she’ll murder someone without a blink of an eye but in the same vein show up to “therapy” in a tulle gown and combat boots just because—and that, my friends, is how I’m trying to live my life (at least the gown part).
Broken record here, but everything about HBO’s original series Euphoria gave me life last summer—and frankly still does. In an effort to not drown you in my love for all the various aspects of this show, I’ll simply state that I’m still in a daze over its makeup and costumes. I particularly can’t stop thinking about the character whose style was the true star of this series: Maddy Perez. Played by former Who What Wear cover star Alexia Deime, Maddy is the type of character who wears the ensembles that most parents wouldn’t allow their kids to wear outside the house. (Can you blame them?) It takes a certain type of character to be able to pull off an I.Am.Gia two-piece set.
I beg of you, if you take nothing else away from this story, please go stream HBO’s adaptation of DC comic series Watchmen immediately. I will admit that I was in no way familiar with the comic series before watching this show, but it doesn’t matter because everything about this show is expectational—the way it explores race and time, the actors, and of course the costumes. Costumes as a whole play a larger role not only in the show's plot but as a commentary on how we choose to present ourselves within society. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say that seeing Regina King wearing her own form of a batwoman suit as her character Angela Abraham’s pseudo-identity Sister Knight is well worth your time.
In terms of actual costumes, Hulu’s show Shrillis by no means the most extra, but it is the most honest. No other show has quite honestly explored with humor and tragedy what it means to be fat in a world that judges your worth based on your weight all while looking chic. The main character, Annie Easton, played by SNL star Aidy Bryant, not only experiences her own style evolution throughout the show but also asks the audience to evolve with her as she methodically cracks jokes poking at society’s ingrained fatphobia. In a world filled with media extolling a myopic definition of what it means to be beautiful, Shrill throws the dictionary out the damn window, and that is what makes it oh so stylish.
What started purely as research for this story, became enjoyable bingeing of the Netflix show Grace & Frankie. I must admit I was at first skeptical of this show’s approach to tackling sexuality and age, but it’s truly so endearing and raw that you can’t really help but to watch. Not to mention the fact that Grace, played by Jane Fonda, makes a serious case for classic style. Starched collars? Knits? Please if we’re all lucky enough, bless us to look as chic as Grace in her 80s.
What makes the Netflix show, Dear White People special is the breadth of black identity it explores within the show's characters, and I found Antoinette Robertson as Coco Connors particularly intriguing. That may be a controversial declaration considering she can be considered one of the show's antagonists, but I don’t care. Not only does Coco serve some serious looks, but her character is also so clearly a display of how style and beauty for many people of color is quite literally a tool of survival.
Coco Connors’s choice to eschew her natural hair texture and to dress “preppy” speaks to both her aspirations as well as the assimilating she’s had to do to get ahead as a dark-skinned woman in predominantly white spaces and to be deemed attractive in a world that upholds Eurocentric beauty standards above all others. Coco is a reflection onscreen of the harsh realities that face communities of color when it’s still legal to discriminate against us based on the way we choose to style our hair or what we choose to wear. And sure, I’ll forever love Coco’s preppy outfits because they’re fire, but I can’t wait until her ensembles only enhance the character that she is.
While Parasite’s costumes may be more subtle compared to that of other productions listed in this story, make no mistake that fashion and beauty not only add richness to this film’s plot but are an overall commentary on socioeconomic class and capitalism. Particularly, stay-at-home wife Park Yeon-kyo's style in this film stands out, not only because she serves some seriously polished looks throughout the film, but also because her style is the epitome of aspirational. It's what people would kill to wear if money was not a concern, and maybe that’s the point.
Possibly the biggest sham of the past year is the lack of accolades given to Jennifer Lopez around her performance as Ramona in the film Hustlers. Never mind the fact that Lopez learned how to pole dance for the role in just six weeks, her performance in many ways speaks to how she’s continually challenged ageist beliefs around how “older” women should dress, not to mention the desirability of said women.
But this role doesn’t just challenge the ageist beliefs that would have you thinking that it’s not age-appropriate for Ramona to wear a Juicy tracksuit—the film as a whole challenges stereotypes around sex workers. It takes the audience members through a ride of what it means for women to use their sexuality as a source of empowerment, in a world that’s set up to profit off of women being sexual objects without their consent in the matter. Sure, Ramona takes it too far in all senses (there is such a thing as too many sequins)—but all she ever really wanted a pair of Louboutins. Can you blame a girl?