The 80 s movie celebrated girls striving to get ahead. Now 30 years on, Hollywood seems to want to put women in their place
The women in Working Girl looked astonishing in their capability suits. How do professional girl personas dress now? Cyrus, by email
I like the piece of your jib, Cyrus! Any man who invests his evenings not just watching but RE-watching Working Girl is welcome to sit by me. And you are right, maidens don’t wear influence suits in movies any more, but that is because women in real life don’t wear power dress these days. In fact, one of the most interesting fashion legends told in Fancy woman, aside from that it really is possible to pay $ 6,000 for an item of robing and” it’s not even leather“, is that you can see the capability dres varying chassis in this late-8 0s movie, changing to something decidedly more 90 s. Whereas Tess( Melanie Griffith) and Cynthia( Joan Cusack) wear large-hearted shoulders and heavy cases, Katherine( Sigourney Weaver ), the woman with the real power, wears far more minimalist, slimmed-down suits. As Tess amplifications dominance, she does, extremely. In the last scene, Tess turns up to her new profession, which she thinks is a secretarial position, in a heavily shoulder-padded coat. But when she realises she is actually the boss, the casing starts to slip off her shoulders. It’s 1988, baby, and a brand-new epoch is beginning: no longer do large-scale shoulders symbolise female power.
( Whether then having Harrison Ford then parcel Griffith’s ickle wickle lunch casket for her, as if she were his toddler daughter instead of his extremely impressive lover, symbolises female power is a question we shall have to save for another day .)
But your question touches, I envisage, on something that is beyond suits, Cyrus. The question isn’t what do ambitious maidens wear in the movies these days, it’s why aren’t they celebrated in movies the space they used to be?
Fortunately, a film comes out tomorrow that shows the point. Now, you might have thought that if I had written a 2,500 -word article on A Star Is Born last week for this paper I might have got that cinema out of my system. Well, you, your best friend, have underestimated just how much I overthink favourite culture. Now who’s looking like the foolhardy one?
While the new A Star Is Born lodges very closely to the 1954 and 1976 versions of this movie, it differs in one huge and inform channel: whereas in the earlier cinemas the female character becomes more successful than the three men because she is more talented, in the brand-new version it is just because she becomes a inventive sell-out. Instead of making Ally( Lady Gaga) a better singer-songwriter than Jack( Bradley Cooper ), the movie has her jettison her songwriting knowledge in order to become a pop star who sings garbage papa anthems, colors her whisker silly colours and gives up with cheesy beings around her. Thus, Jack remains An Artist while Ally is just a plastic product.
It is a fascinating twist, partly because Cooper targeted the movie and this is a definite change to the franchise that flatters his attribute. It is also interesting to do this to the movie now, in an period when female pa stars are such a prevailing personnel: Beyonce, Taylor, Rihanna, Ariana and- oh yeah!- Lady Gaga. The whole thing feels like a reassuring tap on the shoulder to all the male creators left in their junk, and it’s very weird to see Gaga play a reference who feels too close for solace. But this also feels like the natural conclusion to the direction Hollywood movies have been going in for the past few decades. Once female ambition was normal- sex, even. Most certainly, in 1940′ s His Girl Friday, Hildy’s( Rosalind Russell) professionalism is what Walter( Cary Grant) enjoys about her and, even when they marry at the end, it’s obvious they are going to work on their honeymoon, and he is delighted by it. In Woman of the street, female desire is sexy, in the form of Griffith- as long as she doesn’t become more successful than the man, a number of problems personified by Weaver.
Which wreaks us to the 21 st century and all you need to do to see how bad things have got is to compare Kay Thompson’s character in 1957′ s Funny Face with Meryl Streep’s in 2006′ s The Devil Wears Prada: they are both fashion magazine writers, but Streep’s professionalism is taunted whereas Thompson’s is admired.( And, of course, in true-life 21 st-century romcom style, the conclusion of the latter film is that the young female character should give up her excellent work and try to get her boyfriend back. Yay wives !)
The question isn’t what ambitious wives should wear in movies but when will ambitious girls learn their reading and give up their jobs for their servicemen? Ally doesn’t in the latest A Star Is Born and, well, we all know how that turns out. A salutary narration learn lessons from, ladies.