March 30, 2017

Ghost in the Shell: Costume Review

*This review may contain spoilers*

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a pre-screening of Ghost in the Shell (2017). Ever since watching Cloud Atlas (2012), I had been wanting to see another good sci-fi fantasy film - and the trailer for Ghost in the Shell looked promising. However, these types of movies are not often done well (ie. Jupiter Ascending (2015)), so I did go in with some reservations.

Please note: I am aware Ghost in the Shell is based off a manga and anime of the same name, but since I have not read nor seen either, I am writing about this film as a standalone piece of media.

After watching the pre-screening, one thing that stood out to me in particular was the costume design.

I had been joking with my boyfriend, who attended the screening with me, that Ghost in the Shell would essentially be Scarlett Johansson jumping around in a nude, skin-tight bodysuit for two hours. If you think about female characters such as Black Widow in The Avengers (2012), Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), or even Ava in Ex Machina (2014), they are all portrayed as attractive and curvaceous, even while mowing down enemies with a gun.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Johansson's character in this movie, Major, is not outfitted in such a way. She wears fitted, but not tight, bodysuits in conservative dark shades, and often favours chunky combat boots. Her most embellishing piece is a long, double-slit trenchcoat, which she quickly ditches as soon as she needs to dive off a building.

Even her nude armour is built for fighting and not flaunting. It goes from her neck all the way down to her toes, leaving minimal exposed "skin". Her body resembles the female form, but it is not overtly sexualized. Her form is not smooth and perky - it is rough and sturdy. Her short hair is surprisingly limp and stringy, making her very different from a bodacious babe. Even her gait complements her appearance. Her steps are heavy and robotic, and she often sports a combative hunch. Major's costumes focus on what she really is: a cyborg built as a weapon. Nothing is frivolous. Everything is functional.

And I like it.

My boyfriend, who is well-versed in the worlds of anime and gaming (I know, we could not be more different), wishes the costumes were more epic and dramatic, which I can understand. Fantasy films have the opportunity to explore flourishing costume design, and I agree Ghost in the Shell could have been executed with more visual impact. But I don't hate that they stuck with a basic look. It's rare to see female characters portrayed with such honesty, so I'll take the chance to express my appreciation for what this film has done in terms of costume design.

There are obviously many other aspects of this film I have not yet touched on. Luckily, Ghost in the Shell officially opens March 31, so I would love to hear what you think.

Image Source: IMDB

March 18, 2017

Bienvenue à La Maison

This week, Québec-based retailer Simons (La Maison Simons) opened its doors to my city. My friend and I met up to check out the grand opening, which soon turned into one of my favourite activities: trying on dresses. But before I get into some of the dresses I tried on (not all were photo-worthy), let's talk about Simons.

My early exposure to Simons was through my friends. I have a friend (in a different city) who likes shopping there, and another who bought a dress there while in Québec. My first encounter came when I passed by the store during my grad trip in Montréal. Walking through the store, however, I was underwhelmed. The clothing appeared quite basic, reminding me of a watered down version of Hudson's Bay. Nonetheless, I was still looking forward to seeing what Simons would have to offer in my own city.

After exploring the four-story department store this week, I do have a better impression of Simons than before. But to say it is a good impression would be wrong. It caters to what I consider the suburban professional mom. Khaki capris, flowy floral tops, and blazers in various solid colours. The majority of clothing in the store is of poor quality, with a selection of better quality mid-priced items, and one section of incredibly unique, quirky high-end pieces (Leotard with floor-length cape? Yes, please). Despairingly, the shoe and handbag departments were tiny and mediocre. On the bright side though, I was impressed with the offerings in the home section, the decently-priced café, and the two floors dedicated to a wide range of men's clothing. Simons will offer some unique selection for our local market, but overall, I'm left with little reason to shop there.

Though as you know, that doesn't stop me from trying on their clothing.

Twik Floral Choker Dress

What's a huge trend right now? Chokers. And honestly, I'm digging it. So I tried on this dress with the popular choker + v-neck combo. The body of the dress was shapeless, but I appreciated the neckline and the floral print. Definitely going to try copying the trend with one of my own low-cut tops and a ribbon around my neck.

TFNC London Golden Belt Dress

There really isn't anything groundbreaking or special about this dress - I'm just a fan of Grecian styles. This ended up being the only dress that fit me properly, so in that sense it looked flattering. The only thing I would change is how the gold band in the front turns into a black bow belt in the back. I would much prefer a gold waist all around.

Twik Pretty Ruffles Dress

So I didn't realize the straps on this dress were adjustable, hence why it hung so low on my body. My friend tried this dress on with the straps adjusted, and the off-shoulder ruffles did look a lot better. I liked the colour and feminine neckline of this dress, but the cheaply-made body ruined the silhouette. (Interesting to note: the model on the Simons website wears this dress as a regular spaghetti strap, and not an off-shoulder.)

ICÔNE Flower Embroidery Sheer Maxi Dress

And finally, on to my favourite (and more expensive) dress of the day. Not only did I love the sheer white chantilly lace, I adored how there were shorts underneath the skirt. Practical and flirty. The ruffled sleeves were also an ethereal, elegant touch. As for up top, I would certainly need another layer, unless I were to commit to the true fashion life of using double-sided tape to keep deep, risqué v-necks in place. But as my friend suggested, a bandeau would suffice.

Image Source: Daily Hive