Monday, May 16, 2011

Love for Jacqueline West: An Open Letter

The workwear-hero "Jacob Jankowski" in Robert Pattinson for Water for Elephants

To the amazing Ms. Jacqueline West,

I saw Water for Elephants yesterday with half-expectations and half-cynicism before the film. I've only heard of the book, found it interesting because of the title but never really bothered to check it out. I also learned that one of my style inspirations and favorite actors (and that's not cause he's glittering in Twilight--which I never really liked. No offense) Robert Pattinson is lead and academy-award winner Reese Witherspoon  go head-on against the fantastic Mr. Chris Waltz. It's a stellar line-up of course, but still, I thought that the movie would be some period, chick-y flick that I wouldn't ever recommend to others. 

Not even halfway through the film I was floored: The story was a classic love story, but boasted an awesome grit to it that only a writer of talent could do, so Sara Gruen, congratulations. I loved the colors of the film and how director Francis Lawrence worked his way through a story that was pretty tricky to film (because you know that it revolves around a circus and most of the film is on train...So you know the tendencies involved, right). It was amazing. The music was genius. I always consider soundtracks as relevant as the director's work and the story itself. Sometimes actors can take a back seat for me, but soundtrack has to be beautiful and sewn well with the plot. The Bessie Smith track and the Louis Armstrong, I mean these are the things I love listening to, so music gets a 10 from me. Credit goes to James Newton Howard.

It is, however, the costume that really carved a deeper fan out of me. The setting is in the 30s, American depression and if there's any period in American fashion (or in fashion per se) that I call myself a fan of, it's the post-war fashion, just because its simple, bare, void of the frills and frou frou, wearable and relevant to this very day and it makes a man look awfully rugged and chic. So imagine, to my relief, seeing Robert Pattinson wear clothes that I see him wearing in real life and also seeing myself purchasing in the coming days. Dressed in a light-brown safari shirt with a potent dark green scarf or humble in a denim shirt and olive suspenders, or really refined and simple in a tux or iconic runaway in a camel leather jacket, I mean Robert Pattinson just wore every thing that I would love to wear well into my old age. Not to mention Chris Waltz' amazing circus wear and Reese Witherspoon's dangerously sexy gowns, everything and everyone just looked so put-together and the actors wore clothes that suited their characters perfectly. Simply put, costume designer Jacqueline West did her homework and aced it.

Upon researching, to my delight, she worked as the costume designer for some of the movies on my list: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and State of Play. She also did costume for The Social Network and did an artist of a job for my favorite The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She is pure genius at costume and I'm not so sure if she's aware of it, but she does a man's costume so well, it's crazy. I pray that her talent and her work and her eye for fashion will stay as real and powerful for many years to come. We all know just how important costume is to a film and without great costume designers or stylists like Ms. West, these films won't ever look as delicious and real as they are. 

So, to Ms. Jacqueline West, I thank you for the wonderful wardrobe Robert Pattinson wore. You are responsible for my better, deeper love for workwear and old American style and I shall always think about how handsome, rugged, timely and chic these styles are just so that I could stick to them and really carry them to my senior years.

I hope to see more of your work soon and I just might watch the film again, so I could write about it more...better.

This movie, you shouldn't underestimate. It's not the best movie out there, but it's definitely better than most I've seen.

P.S. I used to say that I could relate to Robert Pattinson's real life style, now I could say that even his style on the silver screen is worth the admiration....Outside of Twilight that is.

- Gerard

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