Saturday, September 3, 2016

Couture - or Cosplay?

I was browsing Pinterest the other day and stumbled across an article that compared Rihanna's most recent red carpet gowns to a series of cartoon and video game characters. The implication was that each of her red carpet looks was actually cosplay. So I began to wonder how many other red carpet looks worn by other stars are actually secret cosplay looks. Let's go back through my red carpet posts over the years and see how many "stealth cosplay" looks we can identify.

Beyonce, 2016 VMAs, as The White Witch from "The Chronicles of Narnia"

Although Beyonce didn't bother with the icicle crown, the long silvery-white textured sheath is a dead ringer for the White Witch, and the line of her collar echoes the neckline of the witch's gown, right down to the stiffness. Replace the fur with feathers, and there you go.

Cassie, 2016 VMAs, as MC Hammer in "U Can't Touch This"

Gold lame pants? Check. Nipped-in-at-the-waist military style jacket with super squared-off shoulders? Check. Bare chest? Check. Bright yellow accent color somewhere? Check. All Cassie is missing is a few black leather-clad backup dancers.

Mayim Bialik, 2014 Emmys, as Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind"


Mayim Bialik rarely opts for the glamorous look, even on the red carpet, so I remember being struck by this look. But it wasn't until later that I realized how similar her gown was to the one Scarlett O'Hara is wearing in the larger-than-life portrait that hangs on the wall of Rhett and Scarlett's Atlanta mansion. Bialik's dress is lace rather than velvet, and long-sleeved rather than short, but the sweetheart neckline, the line of the bodice, and the huge fullness of the skirt, ending with a near-bustle and a short train at the back, as well as the gorgeous cobalt blue hue, are all evocative of this striking portrait. Note that Bialik even echoes the right hand below hip, left hand down pose. Coincidence? I think not.

Charlize Theron, 2016 Oscars, as Solitaire from "Live and Let Die"


Solitaire's gowns through most of the movie were Asian-inspired, with plenty of metallic embroidery and jeweled embellishments. But this red flared sheath, with its halter top, plunging decollete, and just a few tiny straps holding it in place was just as striking. Theron's scarlet gown copied all of those features, and was equally striking on the red carpet. 

Naomi Watts, 2016 Oscars, as Andrina, Ariel's sister, from "The Little Mermaid"


Watts' purple and blue gown had scalloped details all down the skirt that were evocative of a mermaid's fins, but it wasn't until I rewatched "The Little Mermaid" that I realized what an uncanny resemblance she bore to one of Ariel's two blond sisters, right down to the deep red lips. 

Brie Larson, 2016 SAG Awards, as Ruth from "Mudd's Women" ("Star Trek")

It's not uncommon for red carpet fashions to call to mind the various sultry alien women who have been romanced by Captain Kirk and his successors, but Larson's gown was an even closer match than most. Although it is pastel blue instead of pastel green, and distinctly lacking in alien shimmer, the slash across the bust, snug-fitting waist, and thigh-high slit, which in both cases is nicely emphasized by both hands being gracefully placed against the thighs, leads to an undeniable sexy similarity.

Viola Davis, 2016 Golden Globes, as The Queen of the Night from "The Magic Flute"


Davis' deep blue gown, as light as air and with thousands of tiny silver stars trickling down towards the hem like a meteor shower, immediately brought to mind the powerful and beautiful character of the Queen of the Night from Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute." Although the Queen does not have a single definitive costume in all productions, the deep midnight blue with some kind of silvery star motif is universal. Two glamorous and powerful women to be respected. 

Halle Berry, 2014 Emmys, as Cleopatra

Berry's purple gown had the same halter neck as Liz Taylor's purple Cleopatra gown, and was fitted in the bust, emphasizing a tiny waist, and opening to a slit below. Even though Cleopatra's slit was lined and Berry's fuller skirt revealed a bare leg, the sultry and classical overall look is the same.

Julie Bowen, 2014 Golden Globes, as Shanti from "The Jungle Book"

The character of Shanti makes only a very brief appearance at the end of "The Jungle Book," enticing Mowgli back into the world of men with her singing voice and flirtatious over-the-shoulder glances. Bowen's red and purple gown is a more grown-up version of Shanti's simple and sweet strapless purple dress with red sash, but, like Shanti's, its appeal comes from the sweetness of its wearer rather than any over sexiness.

Jenny McCarthy, 2015 AMAs, as the Scarlet Witch from "The Avengers"

The asymmetrical hem, the giant belt buckle, the high scrunchy boots, the actual scarlet, and the kickass attitude all make up for any other deficiencies between McCarthy's look and the movie character's. I wouldn't want to get in the way of either one of them.

Kerry Washington, 2015 Emmys, as Alice from "Alice in Wonderland"


There are several well-known female characters who wear some form of armor, and even armor that includes a skirt - Astrid from "How to Train Your Dragon" and several characters from "Game of Thrones" come to mind, as does Xena, Warrior Princess. But the character whose armored look was most similar to Washington's chain mail dress was Alice from the recent "Alice in Wonderland" movie. The pointed bodice echoes the built-in undergarment of Washington's dress, and both have a ragged-edged chain mail hem. Alice may be lacking the plunging neckline and thigh-high slit, but I wouldn't recommend mentioned those deficiencies to her, at least not while she's still holding that sword.

Sofia Vergara, 2014 Golden Globes, as Ursula the Sea Witch from "The Little Mermaid"


Look at these two: voluminous black skirts draping into distinct segments, a scalloped neckline finishing a fitted bodice, the only accents bright red lips and a fabulous necklace. Perfectly played.

Ariana Grande, 2013 VMAs, as Serena from "Pokemon"


I could hardly finish a piece about cosplay without including some form of anime. And I'll admit, Ariana Grande's look here is pretty "generic anime girl": short flared dress, short and snug bodice, pose with just a bit of sass, and a combination of schoolgirl innocence and sultry come-hither-ness. Being unfamiliar enough with anime to not know any characters, but familiar enough to know to be VERY careful when Googling such things, I arbitrarily chosen Serena from Pokemon, because I've seen her and know that's she's kind and smart and probably not part of the anime world that earns PG-13 ratings. So, Serena it is!

Now, the next time you're watching a red carpet event, try to think about what the various looks remind you of - the stars just might be cosplaying!

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