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Well, that didn’t go rather as we planned it.


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After we composed a item on Shug Avery’s “Miss Celie’s Blues” dress from The Color Purple, we started reasoning around film costumes worn by even more than one character in a film and just how they can illuminate both the distinctions and the similarities of the corresponding wearers. And as soon as you start thinking around such things and trying to come up with various other examples, it’s pretty much unavoidable that the jacket in Desperately Seeking Susan will certainly spring to mind initially.

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It may be among the many well known posts of garments in film history and it’s certainly iconic in the feeling that almost everyone recognizes it as shortly as they see it or can image the turbulent details when you mention it.

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But once we sat dvery own to watch the film for the first time in years, it dawned on us that as memorable as the jacket is, and also as important as it is to the plot of the movie, it’s not really a film costume laden with a lot of concealed definition or submessage to it. Which is fine; not every costume is or hregarding be greatly symbolic.

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Which isn’t to indicate that the costume has no definition in the film. It’s the tool through which bored New Jersey housewife Roberta Glass (Rosanna Arquette) escapes her pastel-heavy submetropolitan visibility, and also it’s the McGuffin (along with the stolen Egyptian artitruth earrings worn by Roberta and also Susan) whereby the entire plot is collection right into motion, but … that’s pretty much it, really. A memorable film costume that permits one character to change her life by emulating (badly) the life of one more character.


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What strikes us as a little bit ironic is how Madonna’s costume wardrobe in the film was plainly motivated by her own style — the film’s costume designer Santo Loquasto has shelp that many of the pieces she wore in the film came from her very own wardrobe — yet the iconic jacket (designed by Loquasto) is more than likely the leastern “Madonna” point she wore in the film. The mesh tops, ankle booties, lace gloves, bustiers and also garters she wore throughout the film all came to be associated via Madonna and also were fashion mainremains for a entirety generation of Madonna wannabes in the 1980s. Cropped jackets via gold lame detailing? Not really a thing anyone associates with Madonna’s classic and extremely significant ’80s style.

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The jacket — which is coveted by the character of Roberta bereason she desires to be more like Madonna’s character of Susan — is the one item of her wardrobe that didn’t wind up gaining replicated in the actual world. Like Princess Leia’s costume in Star Wars, it ended up being so associated via one character in one film that as a costume piece, it’s sui generis. No one wanted to replicate this look, not in film and not in the genuine civilization. Not really.

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The various other ironic element of the jacket is that, while it really doesn’t lfinish itself to deep analysis, it is nonethemuch less greatly imbued through symbolism; specifically the Great Seal of the United States, finish with the Latin inscription “Novus Orperform Seclorum” (roughly: “New Order of the Ages”) and also the number 1776 in Romale numerals.

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Sure, you could talk around why there’s a pyramid and also a referral to a new age, yet there’s literally nothing in the film to imply that these things have actually any deeper meaning to them, except in the feeling that Roberta, by appropriating the jacket, experiences a new feeling of herself and a rejuvenated approach to just how she’s living her life. It’s possibly a little as well on-the-nose to imply that the jacket is the gatemeans to Roberta’s own “brand-new age,” however nevertheless, tright here it is.

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There’s likewise the concept that, because the Great Seal shows up on the dollar bill, the jacket is saying somepoint around Susan’s tendency to steal things or Roberta’s moneyed suburban lifestyle or also (if we really wanted to acquire all film institution about it) the death of capitalism, but aget, we uncover such relationships to be a bit tenuous and quickly overstated.

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The thing about the eighties and its aesthetic (in fashion style, internal design and even in literary works and films) is just how a lot post-modernism affected it and how quickly it rendered classic signs and also ideas meaningless by appropriating them. We tend to look at the symbolism of the architecture from that perspective, which underlines Susan’s character nicely. If you asked her what it meant, she’d have actually most likely shrugged and asked why it mattered to you.

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The pyramid clearly coordinates with the Nefertiti earrings, but aside from that connection, there’s no more definition to be uncovered in the style. Nor does the recommendation to Jimi Hendrix (Susan clintends it was his jacket prior to trading it for a pair of boots) have a lot to say about it either. It’s just a bit of seasoning to make the garment all the even more memorable.

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When you look at how Roberta dresses once she has the jacket on, it’s remarkable that she really doesn’t come all that cshed to Susan’s style, also when she’s pairing it through pieces from Susan’s very own suitsituation. Loquasto made certain to give Roberta a look decidedly brighter, more vivid and also sometimes even flashier than Susan’s too-cool-for-institution DGAF style, which frequently relied on pairing standard menswear pieces with lingerie (a bustier through high-waisted babsence pants and also pair of level shoes, a men’s dress shirt paired via garters, a bra paired with boxer shorts), which underlined how a lot Susan ssuggest stole items of her look from the men she meets.

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Despite her attempt to have actually an extra Susan-like life, Roberta winds up not via Susan’s boyfrifinish, however a friend of his (that Susan hasn’t also met); not through Susan’s job, however her friend’s job. She circles about Susan’s life, yet only really on the edges of it, never before truly coming cshed to pulling off an impersonation of her. Despite the memorable architecture of the jacket, she never manperiods to correct Susan’s actual style while wearing it.

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And in viewing the film and also paying attention to how the jacket is used in it, we felt prefer our suspicions around its family member absence of deeper definition were evidenced by the truth that, despite all the job-related invested filming its details and all the mentions and also descriptions of it in the script, the jacket is abandoned about three-quarters of the means right into the film and has actually nothing to carry out via either the orgasm or the happy finishing. As shortly as Roberta gets her memory back and decides to ditch her marriage by resting with Dez, we never watch the jacket aobtain, even though there’s one more 30 minutes of display screen time.

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In this situation, the garment is less about symbolism and also even more about being as memorable as possible in order to define literally every little thing that happens in the film. In various other words, it has meaning as a costume, however every one of that meaning is purely on the surchallenge. It’s iconic because it’s so unique and bereason it’s among those film costumes that more or much less attributes as an expansion of the manuscript and storytelling. That, and also it just looks cool ondisplay, even currently, almost 4 (!!!) decades later on.