I’ve always been drawn to the ’40s; I love the simplicity of tailoring, the pared-down wartime chic…the sheer femininity of the design. Well today I’ve realised the unlikely source of this enduring fondness – Batman Returns, of all things.
The film was released in 1992, and as an 11 year-old girl I was utterly transported by its dark stylishness, and the ambiguous characterisation: each of the main characters struggled with their ‘dark side’. Unsurprisingly, Catwoman influenced me a great deal – I scoured the charity shops for a black leather mac, I begged for kickboxing lessons – but I loved Selina Kyle’s costumes. Especially the one she wears to pour the coffee:
I have never forgotten this blouse:
I still love the contrast between Selina’s ‘ladylike’, strictly tailored suits and Catwoman’s fetishistic black rubber. With each costume change she shrugged off her timid physicality and became a beautiful, fluid whirlwind of a woman. This was a heady mix for me – so much so that as a pre-teen, I paid tribute to my new favourite icon and transformed my remaining Barbie doll:
18 years later she’s lost her mask, gloves and a boot, but I still think she’s proof of that wonderful magic that films can work on you as a child.
I just wish I’d made a ‘Selina Kyle’ doll, too.
All film images photographed from ‘Batman Returns: The Official Movie Book’ by Michael Singer.