Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Iconic Shebug Costumes

Wrapped up like a giant present, tired of being locked up with a head cold, I took to the snow- dusted London streets with a friend to see the Hollywood Costumes Exhibition presently showing at the V&A Museum.

In my first book, Shebug: Dissecting the Gold Digger, I break down the critter’s choice of clothing in luxurious detail. Without her seductive armoury, not even I would be able to spot the difference between a Shebug and a hairless Chihuahua…Outer packaging is everything.

Every iconic film features a Shebug - or two, to add that dark twist to the tale. The wardrobe designer’s job is to attire each character to fit their part, a true art form.

Some are delightfully obvious choices, like Cruella de Vil’s stark back and white do-not-stand-in-my-way look. It spells out exactly what she’s really after. 

But not all Shebugs chose to telegraph their intentions...

Take the dress and matching coat worn Sharon Stone in her killer Shebug ‘Basic Instinct’ role: clean-cut and of quality fabric, it acts as a lamb-like camouflage in its winter whiteness. The timeless classic would look chic today if cut 4 inches longer - and worn with knickers.

One of two dresses from epic ‘Gone with The Wind’ greets the viewers. The script from the film that lights up as you stand before the heavy, deep green creation reads:

"I'm going to Atlanta for that $300 and I gotta go looking like a queen!"

This is the moment Southern Belle, Scarlett O’Hara, comes up with the idea to get the tax money due on her family’s plantation from Rhett Butler. Her defiant matching green eyes fasten upon the drapes, the only sign of luxury left to be found at Tara. She commands the servant, Mammy, to pull them down, tassels and all, and to fetch her mother’s dress patterns.

Her mission is to entice him visually. And fast. Had Rhett not discovered her duplicity, the flirty Shebug would have returned to Tara cash in hand, whether they had been smooth or rough.

 Scarlett’s other key dress on show is exactly what Rhett Butler ordered her to wear after she gets caught kissing Ashley. Bent on making her buckle before all of Atlanta’s society, he scours her wardrobe and growls, ‘Nothing modest or matronly will do’.

And that is precisely what he finds in this iconic piece. Less voluminous than the first, this curve-hugging gown is made of the most tactile of velvets dyed in the deepest scarlet. No tassles, no perky hat to match, just plumes to quiver cockily as Scarlett walks in head held high after Rhett deposits her at Melanie’s door.
A fitting caption for this dress are Rhett Butler’s parting words in this steamy scene:
“You go into the arena alone. The lions are hungry for you.”

1 comment:

  1. Your observations are spot on as always Leslie. Who would you crown as 'Queen' of Hollywood shebugs?