It was the luridness and hyper-kitsch styling of his earlier work that first got me hooked me on Pedro and while he’s still satisfyingly outrageous and melodramatic, much of his first films’ sartorial silliness and playfulness has gone as fashions have changed and he has matured into his rightful place in the cinematic establishment.
In those early pictures with their shoestring budgets and shabby but cheerful outfits, there was a lot of visual comedy to be found in what the characters wore on-screen: the bright makeshift punk of Pepi, Luci y Bom (in 1980 and second below) where outfits were as improvised as the action; Dark Habits‘ nuns (see the bongo-players below) and secret sequins; the polkadot powerdressing, faux-Chanel and novelty earrings* of 80s opus Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. There’s room for the everyday clothes of the working Spanish woman too, styling Penelope Cruz with a bouffant, miniskirt and hoop earrings in Volver and the traditional black lace of widows lurking around the edges of many a scene. Pedro has always been a champion of transsexual chic, his oeuvre showcasing all that Madrid’s drag queens and casual crossdressers have in their wardrobes: shoulderpads, glitter, wigs and plenty of make-up – this is a world where anything goes.
Consistently celebrating the outlandish and the extrovert when it comes to dressing up in his films, it’s no wonder that fashtypes wanna hang with Pedro (SKIN features creative input from Jean Paul Gaultier – not sure if he made The Dress, but he probably had something to do with the tiger man – look, you can’t miss him and check out this peculiar shoot from last year in US Harper’s Bazaar featuring recreations of film scenes starring JPG, Karl and el director himself). But if you can’t hang with him/don’t live in Spain, at least you can still go to the movies: Pedro, te amo.
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