I made the below collage without really knowing what it meant. All I knew was that this was the “vibe I was feeling” for late summer/early fall 2022.
The mood coagulated naturally around 4 films I love: The Color of Pomegranates, John Waters’ Hairspray, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Thinking about these films helped me understand the core concepts and motifs embedded in the maelstrom of aesthetic instinct: earnest and magical camp, generous uncanniness, over-rich, challenging hues, and the razor-thin lines between comedy and tragedy, levity and abjection.
First, let’s start with the more technicolor, saccharine side of this aesthetic by ogling some of the looks in Hairspray and Cherbourg. In a later post we will get into the consecrated, opulent worlds of Pomegranates and Valerie.
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The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
The great news: the best accessory to any Guy (that’s the character’s name)-inspired outfit is an anxious or emo visage, so you’re probably already on your way! His perfectly chocolate suit looks amazing with both a simple white shirt and a bright turquoise number, which in turn looks perfect peeking out of the collar of a sullen, patterned sweater. Easy, affordable outfit recipe. Thanks, Guy!
From Geneviève, we can firstly glean the power of a scalloped-edge coat + a psychedelic-colored sheath dress (one that hits exactly at the knees is best). Finished with a pair of flats or kitten heels with a pointy toe and a little cutout or strap near the toes, this look is perfect for being the sexiest, most tragic figure in the room and can be accessorized with a pregnancy, if you so choose!
Here, Genny (lol) is on her Wim Wenders shit in a perfectly-fitting mohair or angora turtleneck sweater in a shade that rides the line so hard between pink and red that I included options in both colors, just in case. It is ESSENTIAL the pleated skirt hits EXACTLY at knee-length for this look, which is very out of vogue and almost impossible to find in the right kind of fabric and the right width of pleat right now. This skirt by Thom Browne almost does the job, but is a zillion dollars and sold out everywhere anyway. Also not a fan of the high-low hemline. I tried my best to find a few viable options, but you might have to get a pleated midi hemmed or something.
Well, if all else fails, the technicolor turtleneck sweater + the low pony covering the ears + almost any bottoms (jeans, long and wide and NOT RAW EDGED shorts, cigarette pants, etc) will carry you through the depths of hell (bad dates, dissertation defenses, meeting your ex for the first time in a decade while parenting his estranged child whom you gave the same name as he gave his child with another person) unscathed. Godspeed!
I love John Waters, I love the original Hairspray (the movie musical also has a Zac Efron-sized place in my heart, but the fashion is of course better in the OG), I love the sheen of 80s does 60s camp, and I LOVE THE COCKROACH DRESS.
If you are extremely averse to roaches, scroll past the next 6 photos right now <3
But isn’t this glorious?
I used to have an uncropped version of the shirt below by the now-defunct Toy Syndrome. Luckily, with some cheap fake roaches, a sturdy tee, and rudimentary stitching skills, the below is an easy DIY.
Or, if you’re feeling uncrafty and still wanna gross people out:
This also rocks and will guarantee you at least half a subway car to yourself:
Ok, done with roaches.
I Could not find a satisfactory dupe for this perfect striped satin 60s-does-flamenco number, but I found some ruffled gems and a few bonus modish dresses with off-kilter, Watersian details like bizarro color schemes or uncanny proportions to make up for it.
Your best bet for the beyond incredible flower shirts worn by Tracy and her mom is to DIY them using a guide like this (essentially: hot glue flowers onto a garment) but with a sturdy vest instead of a jacket (something that buttons in front is ideal, as I doubt a hot-glued garment would survive being pulled over the noggin too many times). Look how good this looks though:
This is an entire outfit. You could wear sweatpants or boxers or nothing on the bottom and no one would even bat an eyelash because they’d be too busy staring, dumbfounded, at your top. Please don’t go pantsless on my alleged advice, though.
Note: The shop that hawks the two garments below seems to believe that no one wears over a size medium, so I don’t think they are a good company to buy from. I like these garments, but I’m including them more as inspiration on capturing the above vibe sand DIY than as recs. Nothing would be more hilariously inappropriate for a post about fucking Hairspray than shilling for a sketchy, size-exclusive company.
The Von Tussles may be psychotic racists but they know a good style when they see it (sweet little mod pink dress/suit, preferably with cape details).
I’ll leave you with this picture of Debbie Harry that makes a strong case for going back to using ozone-eviscerating levels of hairspray on a daily basis:
Thanks for bearing with my cockroach moment! If you had a good time up there, you know what to do: Instagram (free! costs no money!) Patreon ($2 a month! That’s less than a slice of ok pizza after tax!) Ko-fi (pay what you wish $3 and up, one time only!)
Thanks for bearing with my hustling moment! I am still unemployed and baldly terrified, so passing along any styling/writing gigs you hear about is a huge help too.
With bravery and infinite hope…