Friday, 21 March 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS





After seeing the breathtaking The Grand Budapest Hotel I've been itching to pull apart a Wes Anderson film.  And while all his movies are aesthetically perfect there's something about Margot, Richie and their infallible style that I just can't let go of.  

One of the brilliant stylistic choices Anderson made, as you'll see, was to have every character wear variations of the same outfit throughout the film.  Also all of their clothes and style choices seem to be heavily rooted in the 1970s, which shows that they're all trapped in the time of their heyday.  And that's just bloody great directing. 

Anyway, let's waste no more time.  Introducing...


Margot Tenenbaum: secretive, sullen, she rarely smiles and likes to lock herself in the bathroom so she can surreptitiously smoke without anyone knowing.  And she is missing a finger.  She's an adopted literary genius, winning a Pulitzer aged 15, and has perfected a look of indifference about her enviable talents.  Like her brothers, Margot cemented her look at a very young age.  Lacoste tennis dresses (a little nod to Richie's skills on the court perhaps?), a Fendi fur coat and brown loafers with no socks.  Oh, and big fat swipes of kohl on her eyes and a barrette in her bob. 




Imagine if you worked out your style at that age and it was so good you never had to change it?  If I still dressed how I did when I was 15 I'd be wearing  long velvet waistcoats and pleated jeans.  

I love the idea of collecting slight variations on the same look over the years.  Just look at this wardrobe full of rows and rows of these dresses and loafers.  Getting dressed in the morning must be a breeze. 





We don't know much about Margot at first - I told you she was secretive - but halfway through we learn of her years of experimentation and her first marriage to a Jamaican recording artist.  We also find out how that finger was cut off. (SPOILER: She chopped it off by accident with an axe, ow.)




She also had black hair and dabbled in 15 denier stockings, which I'm really into. 

Since a lot of her time is spent hanging out in the bathroom she often just wears nude slips, and check out the close-up of that eyeliner, so perfect with the pale matte lipstick. 




 I also noticed that she likes wearing pink gloves with her Fendi coat, gloves she's presumably always had?  Or did she buy larger sizes of her clothes and accessories as she grew?  I NEED ANSWERS.




Of course Margot doesn't just love her tennis dresses, she also loves...


Richie, a prodigy on the grass court from a very young age, a sweet soul who bawls his eyes out during a match when he sees Margot sitting with her new husband Raleigh St. Clair.  Why is a man suffering from unrequited love so attractive in film?  In real life wouldn't it be a bit creepy?


As with Margot, Richie's look as an adult is pretty much identical to what he wore as a kid, and boy oh boy, was he a cute kid. 



(Hi to Eli in the background).  

Even as a non-tennis playing adult Richie's look still incorporates parts of his sports paraphernalia.  He wears a polo shirt and headband with his wool camel suit.  And big dark sunglasses, like the full on superstar this man is.  Apparently the style of Richie was based on Björn Borg, who shocked the tennis world by retiring at the young age of 26 and also favoured a similar headband and Fila polo shirts.  But did Björn Borg live on an ocean liner and carry around a pepper shaker in his pocket so he could add spice to his trademark Bloody Marys?  I think not.  Game, set and match to Richie. 


After his SPOILER ALERT suicide attempt something changes in Richie.  He keeps the suit but the 70's haircut, beard and headband disappear.  He (sort of) emerges from the era he was stuck in, and starts going for what he wants in life - helping his best bud Eli quit drugs and winning the love of Margot. 




Speaking of Eli...


I love Eli.  He does some pretty awful things - having an affair with his best friend's adopted sister (including make-out sessions on the subway), driving his car into his best friend's family home when he's high on mescaline, in general being a teeny bit insensitive.  BUT LOOK HOW HE DRESSES. 



Unlike Margot and Richie, Eli hasn't always had his look sorted.  As a young boy longing to be a Tenenbaum he mostly wore his school uniform, although his love of face paint does resurface at the end of the film. 


Eli's character is based on the authors Cormac McCarthy, whose books include the classic No Country For Old Men, and Jay McInerney, who famously wrote Bright Lights Big City.  However from what I can tell neither of them wear cowboy hats or fringed jackets.  Which is a shame. 

In the film Eli is referred to as, "the James Joyce of the West", and I guess his clothes reflect that - a New York kid who is emulating a Western look rather than actually being from there.  Whatever the reason for his sartorial choices, I'm a fan. 


I also like his taste in art, such as the painting below by Mexican artist Miguel Calderón which was part of his 1998 exhibit "Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island (circle one)".  #ARTFACTS.  




Also, in the film Etheline Tenenbaum receives a clipping of Eli Cash posing with a snake, which was a nod to the fact that Owen and Luke Wilson's mother, Laura Wilson, once worked with the photographer Richard Avedon and documented his "In the American West" project.  In which there is a portrait of a young man with a snake.  #ARTFACTS. 

As well as his grey trousers, amazing shirts and hats, I'm also a fan of Eli's haircut.  General Custer all the way.  Look at it flopping around his painted face (told you) as he ruins the wedding of...



AND


These two are great, their love is a beautiful thing, and Henry Sherman seems to be one of the nicest men to have ever lived.  

Etheline was loosely based on Anderson's mother Ann Burroughs, who because an archaeologist after her divorce.  In fact these awesome glasses are actually Burroughs' own pair. 


(OK, I'm not 100% sure it's these glasses that belonged to her as Etheline wears several pairs in the film, but still - pretty cool, no?)

Etheline is a hard-working, incredibly smart woman, and she likes her suits. 


Henry Sherman's style, meanwhile, is based on the outfits worn by UN secretary Kofi Annan, a pal of Danny Glover's who he introduced to Anderson at an event.  I'm ignorant and don't know much about Kofi Annan but I like his clothes - bow ties, checked shirts and double breasted suits in bold colours are ALWAYS a good idea. 

Speaking of bold suits...




Maybe Chas is one of those people who thinks that wearing sports gear all the time will make him more likely to work out.  Maybe he just loves Adidas Originals.  We may never know.  But he and his sons look fantastic in their matching tracksuits (I have three nephews who also wear matching Adidas and it is even more adorable in real life, let me tell you), and highly-strung Chas and his brood are even cuter when their standing with their uncle and grandad. 


Ahh yes.  Royal Tenenbaum, played by the inimitable and intimidating Gene Hackman.  There's a good piece on The Playlist about what it was like to work with Hackman on the film.  Here's a chunk of it:

'It turns out the task of protecting Wes Anderson from Gene fell to Bill Murray.  Anderson had tried to stay positive but recalled that Murray had actually come to set, even when the actor was not involved in filming, just to protect the director. “You were not scared of Gene,” Anderson said to Murray. “I noticed early on so I started asking you to come be there. I remember, there was a scene where Gene goes for a walk in the park and I looked up on the top of this rock and you were standing with a cowboy hat watching the set. And you were just there to show solidarity and I was very touched by that.”'  

Another reason why Bill Murray is awesome (as if we needed one). 

Anyway, Royal Tenenbaum was a sharp dresser.  He sort of incorporated the style of all three of his kids, which is lovely.  There's the sunglasses and camel-hued coat for Richie, the touches of pink for Margot and the suits and stripes for Chas.




(Ooh, hello - Henry Sherman looking dashing, again). 


There's a great mix of colours in Tenenbaum's outfits, purples and yellow/green, pink and orange, and then a muted grey suit.  Which seems like a great style rule to live by.  

And finally...




There is not much to say about this hero and his protege, except that they're wonderful and any man in a mustard suit and purple polo neck is a dreamboat to me.  Also love the glasses.  Both of theirs. 

Well, that's the whole gang, I love them all but my favourites will always be Margot and Richie. 



By the way you can visit the Tenebaum's house in Harlem, NY - so tempted to drag Jeremy there when we visit New York next month...

3 comments:

  1. i loved this ! i discovered so many details that made me love the movie even more (as if it was possible) ! and you too elizabeth <3

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  2. Thanks! I'd never really realised how packed full of references to real people his films are! xx

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  3. This is one of my favs Anderson's films, it's cool that you did the style dissection about it, I really love reading you :3

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