So many different things have led to this moment. The release of Diana, for one, which has me thinking about how much the style in this movie referenced that 'Sloane Ranger' put-together-ness - although I guess if you were blonde and upper middle class in the 90s you probably couldn't escape a Diana reference, could you? I read an article about Emma Thompson writing Sense and Sensibility, and how the parts of the sisters was originally intended for Natasha and Joey Richardson (but Ang Lee, genius that he is, insisted that Emma play the role of Elinor, and wasn't that movie just... perfect?) And then, finally, the clincher. I watched Love Actually on the weekend. And I was struck, as I always am now, by Liam Neeson's storyline, and how eerily it foreshadowed real life. Liam Neeson was married to Natasha Richardson, and she passed away after a skiing accident in 2009. All of these things have reminded me both how much I loved Natasha Richardson and how much I loved her in The Parent Trap, a movie I probably watched at weekly intervals between the ages of 8 (I first saw it at my birthday party that year!) and, well.... 22.
I think it's becoming abundantly clear that I am knee-deep in a 90s revival at the moment. I can't stop wearing overalls, and denim shirts, and birkenstocks, and cami dresses, and ray ban sunglasses. But that's a kind of contempo-casual 90s look, the kind of Angela Chase, lip-liner look of the fresh-faced 90s babes of Smash Hits. There's another side of me that revels - has always revelled, really - in the ice-cold, oil-slick city chic of girls like CBK and, of course, her British counterpart, Diana. On the New York side it is a world of corduroy, camel coats and iron-straight hair. For the brit-girls it is maybe just a slick more polished; a veritable smorgasbord of taupe and beige, a-line shift dresses and sensible court shoes. Yes, pantyhose too. That's maybe taking it just a step too far for me.
Natasha's wardrobe in this movie is everything. It is the definition of chic, right down to the smallest touches - those delicate gold chains that sit at just the right point on her chest bone, her bamboo-handle gucci bag, her slim watch with tobacco-coloured band, the umbrella that perfectly matches her outfit. The first
thousand hundred times I watched this movie I never really noticed, maybe because I was more interested in trying to learn that handshake, or crying my eyes out, or wishing beyond anything that I had a secret twin sister. But when I watch it now I can't stop looking at how, well, put together she is. There's no other word for it. Even when she's losing the plot she is still a vision in camel and curlers. Drunk and delirious after her first plane ride in years, she is still absolutely remarkable in an ivory skirt suit with silk blouse and matching trench coat. I mean, who looks like that when they've just stepped off a plane, even in First Class? I think the great thing about the costumes in this movie was that they both played to and played off the stereotypes of that era. Dennis Quaid was almost overly masculine, a laid-back Californian guy in denim blues and chest hair. And Natasha was his opposite, buttoned up (but not uptight), put together (but in an elegant, not controlled way), a British girl with style and class and sophistication. These were stereotypes, but, as is often the case with stereotypes, they were also real life. Dennis Quaid really was that overly masculine, laid-back guy, Natasha Richardson really was that phenomenally chic English Rose. Costume by definition, of course, doesn't require that its actors understand or even believe in its vision. But it certainly helps.