Monday, 8 August 2011

08 What should I wear?

Nothing dates a documentary (or a fiction film for that matter) like clothes (and hair). When little Margie productions got its first big commission in 2000, to make the series “10 Finnish Architect: an outsider´s view” (10 X 10´), it was such a big job for a small company we made a five minute test film.  We decided that I would do the narration. When our commissioning editors at the Finnish Broadcasting company (YLE) saw the test, they liked it and told me to be the “outsider”.  They also said they wanted the series to be timeless so that they could show it in 20 years.

Edith Head, former long-time designer at Paramount Pictures and Universal Studio said, “you can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”  She wasn´t the greatest, most creative film costume designer in the business (for example, the glamorous, eye-popping clothes Audrey Hepburn wore in “Sabrina” were designed by Hubert Givenchy), but she had staying power. Between the two studios her career lasted non-stop for 58 years until her death. She knew how to make a statement and stick to it. With her severe slicked-back hair, dark horn-rimmed glasses and sensible suits, her clothes and accessories oozed authority. Fashion wasn´t her forté.  But she knew how to be timeless and still stand out from the crowd.

When we were developing “10 Finnish Architects” I asked myself what could I wear that was distinctive enough to set me apart from the other people in the docs. But that would be classic enough to be anytime, anyplace. For years my everyday uniform was the traditional blue and white striped t-shirt that French sailors have been wearing for eons. Then I came across a photo of Coco Chanel in Biarritz in the 1930´s. She was wearing the same French sailor shirt with navy-blue trousers and a straw hat. We figured since Coco wore the “look” 70 years ago that constituted timeless. It was a nice coincidence that it also looked like a Marimekko, the iconic Finnish design company famous for their striped t-shirt. We thought we had found a neat solution. At the last minute, just before we started shooting Eki said, “Wear the straw hat.”

Lesson 14: Clothes count: style your doc for a long shelf-life.

Next week: 09 It´s All in the Cut

1 comment:

  1. Love the stripes and Eki was right about the hat. Saw a doc. about the making of The Wizard of Oz and the visual tread that they kept running through the film was to make it timeless. There are a few moments that date it but most of it is timeless.
    Hard to do but when done it's great. Going to watch The Women by Clare Booth Luce tonight. A bit dated but oh so timeless as far as men are concerned. The two remakes (Broadway and a film) stink.