I’m calling this one a fashion blog but bear with me on this. I’m in the enviable position of having a double session of dressing happening imminently and, as always, my body is working very hard to betray me on this. I’ve managed to sprain a muscle in my hand, which is extremely painful and swollen, I can feel at least one sty fighting to the surface and I’m rocking a chest infection. Woohoo!
So, I’ll put aside all the pain and worry and talk about something that I never really think about it – what inspires the looks I love Sarah to wear.
Of course, it will be mostly TV or film. We live in a visual generation and our abilities to imagine have sadly atrophied with the years of video images, but that’s not a bad thing.
My urges always tend to surface at odd times. I’ll be watching a movie or a TV prog and bang, I’ll see an actress wearing an outfit and my mind goes off on it’s own little delicious little fantasy of what it would be like to wear that outfit.
And in the early days it was always retro frocks that triggered that response. I was daft enough to not realise that it was about retro so for a long period it was just wearing whatever frocks I could get my hands on in the brief moments I could do it, but as I got older and Sarah re-emerged it became apparent that she is, well, a bit gushy when it comes to wonderfully retro-styled frocks.
There are a couple of moments in my history when something I saw was so influential that it stuck with me, and I’d spend days fantasising about the outfit. Granted, at first I thought it was an attraction to the actresses but that was just me missing the point as always.
So, a quick and potted history of the outfits that really did it for me…
And we’ll start with the ultimate inspiration – Rachael from Blade Runner.
The minute she walked onto screen I was in love. The 40s style of her outfit, the hair, the way she walked. I couldn’t put my finger on why (duh) but everything about the outfit and style made me literally tingle to watch it.
The padded shoulders, the tight top, the almost hobble nature of the skirt. Chuck in red nails and lipstick and I was filled with an indescribable urge. This was 1982 and I was fighting my way through an odd puberty, and Rachael/Sean Young didn’t help.
She actually wears another version of this outfit later in the film, a cream one, but she has her hair down and it didn’t have the same effect. Her hairstyle in the first scene was just sublime, ultra-40s.
Hell, I still want to be her. Even more so now I have access to the internet, but I’ve yet to find a cosplay place that has her outfit on it. But still, wow.
Of course, the fact she’s an android/replicant adds another feature to it and, yes, that turned me on as well – guess that’s down to the standard objectification fantasies that crop up in the testosterone from time to time. No, scratch that, I wanted to *be* a Rachael replicant.
For the next inspiration we need to actually step backwards in time from Blade Runner. Granted, Blade Runner’s Rachael is my dream woman-to-be, but I had some odd moments watching what was, outside of the inspiration to femm-up, a bloody good television series that no-one remembers now (due to the fact a comedy came around after based entirely on it that most people remember and forget the wonderful drama that it came from). I’m talking 1977 and a little BBC series called ‘Secret Army’.
Set in occupied France during the second world war it was the tale of the resistance. I remember watching it as an eight year old and being mesmerised by the title sequence, that makes you feel like you are walking down a cold, dark lane in winter. Amazing.
But I digress. The series had a number of female leads and the fashions they wore were authentic 1940s and ticked a lot of my unknown-at-that-point neurons. In particular there was an actress called Jan Francis, who went on to do comedy romantic series on the Beeb, but then she was a spunky resistance fighter. And the frocks and outfits she wore (when not wearing a raincoat which is synonymous with the comedy version, Allo Allo) were beautiful. Of course this was around my realisation of my first urges, but I found myself obsessed with her clothes.
The difficulty was that it was a brilliant TV series and I really wanted to focus on the story. Which leads us to our last inspiration, something that came along a lot later but was the final straw that brought retro-Sarah to life.
And that is Mad Men. Yeah, not a surprise.
I loved Mad Men as a series. Never has so little storyline been so utterly watchable, it was like visual cocaine. But I had to watch each episode two or three times. Because I kept missing the stories every bloody time Joan appeared.
Every one of her styles, every one of the frocks, just lit up the inside of my head. This was when Sarah was re-emerging and I used Joan as a template for the styles of clothes that really were feminine, that summed up what I thought an ideal woman would be like.
Plus the misogyny really angered up my inner feminist.
But it wasn’t just Joan. Joan got to wear the fabulous styles. Peggy got to wear the office styles, the girl who was not quite trendy enough yet, and I *loved* her looks almost as much as I loved Joan’s. A lot of Sarah’s looks are more Peggy than Joan, and I’m happy with that.
Damn, I miss Mad Men. Guess I’ll just have to try really, really hard to recreate the styles as Sarah….
So stay beautiful and live your inspirations, sweeties.