Wednesday, 17 March 2010

'It's after 7, don't waste good lipgloss'

*lotsa pics again*

For the second entry in my occasional series on my favourite 80s films, I thought I would focus on Pretty in Pink.

I love John Hughes films and Pretty in Pink is one of my favourites. It was releasd in 1986 when I was nine, so I did not see it at the cinema. My first encounter with it was when I read in the Radio Times that it was going to be on tv, I think I was about 11 or 12 at the time. I asked my mum to tape it for me as it was on quite late at night. She only remembered after it had been on for about twenty minutes. It didn't really matter as I fell in love with Andie, Duckie and Iona immediately and I rewatched that recording until the tape wore out.

The central character is Andie Walsh, a feisty and stylish girl from a poor background in her final year at high school. She starts to date Blane, a preppie rich guy at her school. The film follows their relationship's ups and downs as they encounter prejudice from their friends and their own crises of confidence.

One of the things I like best about Pretty in Pink are the great supporting characters - the quirky, funny and caring Duckie

the snobbish, heavy-lidded and ennui ridden Steff

 and the straight-talking, sweet and funky Iona

The aesthetic of Pretty in Pink has stayed with me since I first saw it. The 'outsider' chararcters of Andie, Duckie, Iona and their friends all dress very individually with lots of customisation and vintage details. This is also reflected in their homes, cars and places of work. When I saw the film I wanted to be Andie, with her Mondrian bedecked room, her independence, her dress making skills and her own pink princess phone by the bed.

I wanted an adoring male friend like Duckie (and I would definitely have picked him over the insipid Blane). I loved the music she and Duckie listened to and it's thanks to Pretty in Pink that I discovered the Psychedelic Furs, The Smiths and Suzanne Vega.

When I went to sixth form and no longer had to wear a uniform, my style was influenced by Andie Walsh. I bought lots of floaty floral skirts and men's pinstriped waistcoats from second hand shops and wore them with vintage jewellery and Victorian-style ankle boots. I prided myself on my 'individual' look and fell in with a group of drama students. I then felt arty and creative and interesting, though this was tempered by deep insecurities about my looks and a need to overanalyse everything with too much intensity.

If I wanted to be Andie as a teenager, it was Iona I wanted to become when I grew up. I loved that Iona changed her appearance all the time, from punk to 40s with an 80s twist, from neon geisha to 50s prom queen with a beehive. She had wigs and amazing make-up, a wardrobe of infinite possibility and her own flat with a mixture of Retro Americana and Chinatown influences. Even her gong crash doorbell was cool.

Iona's charachter was significantly older than Andie, though Andie's old-before-her-time demeanour (thanks to a dead mother and work shy, booze lovin' father) and Iona's sense of fun and irreverence bridged the age gap well.

To me, Iona was funny, self-assured, confident, stylish and brilliant because she had not toned herself down with age - she was the person she wanted to be.

Unfortunately, my love for both Andie and Iona was severely shaken by their behaviour towards the end of the film. I found myself incredibly annoyed with Andie when she took Iona's beautiful, full-skirted retro prom dress:

and turned it into this hideous monstrosity:

You can't even see the disgusting pink tights and shoes in that photo either. Upon arrival at the Prom, Andie  then proceeded to leave Duckie in the dust again, even after he'd ensured she did not go to prom alone, as she chased after boring Blane and snogged him in the car park to OMD. Yeeuch.

Iona disgusted me even more when a tearful Andie turned up to ask for the prom dress and found her looking very different due to her burgeoning relationship with 'Terence who owns a pet shop':

I felt especially cheated because my Mum owned a blazer just like that and wore her collars up in the 80s. I loved my Mum but I had to have some rebellion to aspire to. I was gutted, where was my strong, feisty role model? Could you only find love if you conformed to certain ideals? Why did she want to look ten years older?

As I said, I was quite intense and overanalysed everything. Pretty in Pink is not a manifesto for life, it's just a sweet, quirky film that tapped into the experience of being a teenager and feeling different and awkward. There will always be a place in my heart for Duckie though and I can't hear 'Try a Little Tenderness' without mentally revisiting his miming and dancing in Trax.

No comments:

Post a Comment