The 80 s movie celebrated dames striving to get ahead. Now 30 years on, Hollywood seems to want to made women in their place

The women in Working Girl seemed stunning in their capability suits. How do professional girl characters dress now? Cyrus, by email

I like the slashed of your jib, Cyrus! Any man who expends his evenings not just watching but RE-watching Working Girl is welcome to sit by me. And you are right, women don’t wear dominance suits in movies any more, but that is because women in real life don’t wear power suits these days. In point, one of the most interesting fashion stories told in Fancy woman, aside from that it really is possible to pay $ 6,000 for an item of investing and” it’s not even leather“, is that you can see the strength suit changing condition in this late-8 0s movie, altering to something emphatically more 90 s. Whereas Tess( Melanie Griffith) and Cynthia( Joan Cusack) wear big-hearted shoulders and heavy coats, Katherine( Sigourney Weaver ), the woman with the real power, wears far more minimalist, slimmed-down suits. As Tess additions ability, she does, very. In the last scene, Tess turns up to her new activity, which she thinks is a secretarial position, in a heavily shoulder-padded case. But when she realises she is actually the boss, the jacket starts to slip off her shoulders. It’s 1988, child, and a brand-new age is beginning: no longer do large-scale shoulders symbolise female power.

( Whether then having Harrison Ford then pack Griffith’s ickle wickle lunch casket for her, as if she were his toddler daughter instead of his extremely impressive girlfriend, symbolises female power is a question we shall have to save for another day .)

But your question touches, I visualize, on something that extends well beyond clothings, Cyrus. The question isn’t what time ambitious females wear in the movies these days, it’s why aren’t they celebrated in movies the practice they used to be?

Fortunately, a cinema comes out tomorrow that shows the extent. 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 film out of my structure. Well, you, your best friend, have underestimated just how much I overthink popular culture. Now who’s looking like the foolhardy one?

While the brand-new A Star Is Born lodges very closely to the 1954 and 1976 versions of this movie, it differs in one huge and inform road: whereas in the earlier films the female attribute becomes more successful than the three men because she is more talented, in the new version it is just because she was becoming innovative sell-out. Instead of clearing 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 psalms, dyes her hair silly colours and makes up with cheesy people around her. Thus, Jack remains An Artist while Ally is just a plastic product.

It is a fascinating twist, partly because Cooper aimed the movie and this is a definite change to the franchise that flatters his character. It is also interesting to do this to the movie now, in an era when female popping virtuosoes are such a dominant personnel: Beyonce, Taylor, Rihanna, Ariana and- oh yeah!- Lady Gaga. The whole thing may seem like a reassuring pat on the shoulder to all the male creators to stay in their dust, and it’s very weird to see Gaga play a persona who feels too close for consolation. 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- seductive, even. Most apparently, 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 Fancy woman, female passion is sexy, in the form of Griffith- as long as she doesn’t become more successful than the three men, a number of problems incarnated 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 editors, but Streep’s professionalism is lampooned 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 ladies !)

The question isn’t what ambitious ladies should wear in movies but when will ambitious ladies learn their lesson and give up their jobs for their humankinds? Ally doesn’t in the latest A Star Is Born and, well, we all know how that is about to change. A salutary anecdote learn lessons from, ladies.


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