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Inspirations

Fashion in Blade Runner: Dandy and Art Deco inspirations

The original 1982 Blade Runner is probably one of my favorite movies. Combining a real philosophical questioning about the meaning of humanity with stunning visuals and atmosphere, good action sequences and memorable music, it is a true masterpiece which has too often been overlooked. I reckon that the 2017 sequel, Blade Runner 2049, does a pretty good job given the expectations that one can have after seeing the original movie. In particular, I very much loved some of the cameras shots which may sometimes surpass the original movie (I especially think about the scenes at the headquarters of Wallace Corporation).
One of the views inside the HQ of Wallace Corp.
I also found interesting how the sequel modernizes the existential questionings of the first movie by introducing the possibility of a love relationship with an AI (which reminded me to some extent the movie Her). However, I felt that the pace was often too slow and that it was poorer than the original from a musical point of view. More than doing a general critic of those two movies, I would like to focus on their approach to fashion, three of the characters having a style that I truly appreciate.

From oriental inspirations to Dandyism

If there is a strong Asian significance in the two movies, it is even greater in the sequel from commercial featuring Asian models, to regular appearences of written or spoken Japanese, Chinese and Korean. This is an influence which can also be found in fashion in Blade Runner 2049. The first outfit worn by Niander Wallace (played by Lared Jeto), as seen on the movie poster, is a black yukata, a type of light Japanese kimono worn by both men and women. The yakuta he wears here is pretty simple but the white braid gives it a very elegant touch which is reminiscent of preppy style jackets. If I find it particularly interesting because kimonos (and more generally far eastern outfits) are rarely seen as a source of inspiration for male garments in the western world while they are much more present in women’s fashion. If they are obviously difficult to wear as such on a daily basis, I find them really refined and would like to see them more.
Garments inspired by kimonos are still relatively unseen in men’s fashion
Niander is also seen with two other outfits which are much more traditional: a black suit and a three pieces gray suit. What I find interesting in the later outfit is the use of a large tie with a fluid fabric which gives a somehow 19th century style to the attire.
Dandy vibes
However the award of style goes to Graff from the original movie. Interpreted by Edward James Olmos (notably known for his role in the Battlestar Galactica serie reboot), Gaff is a mysterious character that only appears for three short sequences. His role is yet crucial, as he really triggers the questioning around Deckard’s humanity. The special aura of this character is definitely stressed by his style. With his fine moustache, his bowtie and waistcoat, a heavy coat with leather stripes, his cane and a hat he is a true dandy totally clashing in the atmosphere of post apocalyptical Los Angeles. My only regret is that he does not look as stunning in his short appareance in the sequel!
A nice pairing between the hat band and bowtie
Graff’s leather coat creates an interest contrast with his more dressed up outfit
Gaff’s style gives him a lot of charisma

A strong influence of Art Deco

From interior decorations and furniture to the architecture of the buildings Art Deco has an extremely strong influence in the visuals of the two movies. But Art Deco also defines the style of two female characters: Rachael in the original movie and to a lesser extent Luv in Blade Runner 2049. With her blouses with shoulder-pieces, coats with prominent collars, well ordered hair and her heavy makeup, Rachael has everything of a glamorous 1930’s Parisian, even the bad smoking habit. A lot of work has been done on Rachel’s outfits both from a qualitative point of view (with a lot of attention given to details such as buttons and fabric patterns) but also from a quantitative aspect (as she appears in five or six fully different outfits throughout the movie). Pay attention to how similar her attire is to 1930’s material:
Art deco inspired fashion
Art deco has a strong influence throughout the movie
Interestingly enough, some fan made art depicting Rachel could actually be taken for genuine Art Deco artwork.
Credit: Paul X. Johnson
And you, where you particularly impacted by fashion in a specific movie? Do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section!