Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Most Interesting Wardrobe Choices In Film: Christiane F

I just finished reading Christiane F's memoir 'We Children of Banhoof Zoo' and it inspired me to re-watch the exquisite film, in which there are countless amazing wardrobe changes for seemingly impoverished Christiane on the streets in dismal 1970s Berlin, working as a baby prostitute to support her heroin addiction. Hence, it inspired me to think about some of the most interesting wardrobe choices in film history. I'm not going to talk about it all in one post as it would take me a lot of words to get through this topic, but I will revisit this topic again soon with another film.

Christiane F

I will start with the film that inspired this post, also because I just watched it and have it in my head. The fashion choices in Christiane F are positively unique - if you research 1970s fashion you will find it difficult to come across the kind of clothes featured in the movie, believe me, I tried. Christiane's fashion was something kind of unique to Berlin in the 70s - the first breed of heroin chic that ever existed. Indeed, after her epic memoir of misery was published, detailing the numerous relapses and horror stories that was Christiane F's life at age 12 - 15, Christiane was ironically catapulted into celebrity status, with young girls copying her style all over Berlin, which is kind of creepy considering her heroin chic style was, well, partly attributed to heroin use.

Firstly, because her lack of money meant she had to share clothes with her boyfriend Detlef, so her clothes have a very masculine feel to them. Secondly, because she was malnourished as a result of not having enough money to eat and so her pencil thin jeans are incredibly tight and tiny because she was very sick and unhealthy (she was the master of altering jeans to make them tighter). Thirdly, at the time the tight jeans and high-heeled platform boots pairing identified Christiane as a prostitute if she was hanging around the prostitute areas in Berlin (Banhoof Zoo being the main one). So yeah, her undeniably chic style was a result of something that is certainly not chic - poverty, addiction, prostitution and sickliness. But god does she look damn good in that Bowie jacket.

There's something effortless about how Christiane is styled, but what makes it interesting is all the small touches. The stripy socks paired with high heels borrowed from her mother in the beginning of the film. The plain black leather jacket. The cute little scarves fellow prostitute and friend Babsi wears with all her outfits (pictured above, inspecting Christiane's Bowie jacket).

What is most interesting about the fashion, however, is how well the fourteen year old actress who plays Christiane pulls it off. This looks like the fashion of a much older woman, at least in her early twenties, yet baby-faced Christiane pulls off the feminine does masculine look better than women twice her age. The fashion doesn't age her, either, in fact, it kind of makes her young age even more apparent, especially when you see how tiny her legs are in those tight jeans. She also makes it look more fashionable than similarly styled celebrities of the same time. For instance 15 year old Cherie Currie of The Runaways had a kind of similar look, also being massively influenced by David Bowie, as Christiane obviously was (well, in the movie). Check out her awesome Bowie belt.

The Runaways were all about jeans, tight shirts and platforms, yet unlike Christiane they appear more butch and less chic. The reason? Christiane swaps tight shirts for loose masculine shirts tucked into super tight jeans with no flares and topped off with pointy boots as opposed to giant platforms.

Instead of emphasising her bust, Christiane's style focuses on her legs, with a more refined style as opposed to the larger than life approach of The Runaways. And for some reason this comes off looking more feminine than The Runaways' focus on their breasts and hips. Go figure.

If you watch the film as closely as I did (not many people do and I don't blame them) you'll also quickly realise Christiane's style gets more bland towards the end and during her downfall.

Nevertheless, her outfits are incredibly well-styled and the minimalist look really works. (well, you know, if you ignore the miserable look of desperation in her sunken dead eyes).

Perhaps it is this desperation that makes the look kind of interesting. Not just the originating factors of her look, which as I explained earlier, all derive from her number one predicament (heroin), but the aura of desperation. Because when you have nothing to lose that makes you dangerous. And that part of Christiane's character is reflected in the masculine does feminine look - the towering high-heeled boots, heavy jackets and second skin jeans. She doesn't just look like a little girl in a cute little dress. She looks dangerous. She has to, if she wants to survive in this world.

How else could you pull off double denim in a grimy toilet stall with a tourniquet ready to go?

1 comment:

  1. I love the movie, it's just amazing. The soundtrack is amazing, the actors play perfectly well their characters and the fashion choices were just so cool -I want Christiane's silver jacket so bad-. I found specially interesting how the girl who plays Stella resembles the blonde girl from the runaways. BTW i loved your post <3