Sleek, runway-worthy all black ensembles. High collared suits and lush, elaborate evening gowns. Hair pulled back in tight buns.
No, we’re not talking about Fall Fashion Week. These looks come to us courtesy of the 1997 Andrew Niccol directed film Gattaca, a vision of a future so design-obsessed that even our DNA has become name brand. The science-fiction drama takes us into a future society where the upper and the middle classes have instituted a policy of selective gene control. Due to their financial means, members of the elite classes are able to have offspring that are genetically enhanced and superior, know in society as “Valids”. Those who were born prior to the the gene control policy, known as “Invalids”, are heavily discriminated against and society has relegated them to menial and manual labor.
Vincent (played by a young and really hot Ethan Hawke), one of the last remaining “Invalids”, has always dreamed of being a member of the space exploration program Gattaca, but because of his inferior genetic makeup is barred from the career. Deciding to make a drastically dangerous move, Vincent turns to the black market, where the genetic identity of Valids are quickly becoming hot commodities. Jerome (equally hot Jude Law), a physically perfect Valid who was paralyzed in a freak accident, becomes Vincent’s savior. Assuming Jerome’s genetic identity (with the aid of Jerome doling out countless blood, urine, and other genetic samples), Vincent is able to not only qualify for the Gattaca space program, but is selected as the lead man for the program’s upcoming mission to Saturn. However, things go horribly wrong when the mission leader is murdered and some of Vincent’s Valid DNA is found at the crime scene. We won’t give anything away, but lets just say that this whole DNA business gets really sticky.
Besides being culturally relevant (a world in which racial and gender based discrimination is replaced by genetic discrimination– doesn’t sound that far off does it?), the film is a design freak’s dream! Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, the set is a consummate recreation of Noir influenced themes, updated to fit a sterile future. Architecture and interiors are based on ultra-clean lines and a cool color palate. Visually, director Niccol builds a world that is just as controlled as its DNA.
Fashion becomes a huge stylistic theme in the film. Although everything, like Jerome’s gene pool, is impeccably high end, it’s all controlled. Everyone in this future wears black and greys. Their hair is slicked back, and their collars are high. Men are decked out in sleek suits, a la Armani’s or Hugo Boss’ finest. Women, including the picture perfect Uma Thurman who plays Hawke’s love interest, are stylized much like women in classic Noir films. Pencil skirted suits with demure peter pan collars and white satin high collar blouses with button neck detailing make up the female costuming trends in the film. Evening wear is also heavily featured, most notably in a dramatically designed scene in which Vincent and his lady walk along a shimmering mirrored alleyway. Irene (Thurman)’s strapless black gown with flared taffeta train could easily double for a couture Versace.
Vogue editorial this is not, but Niccol’s fashion choices are a feast for any fashionista’s eyes! Make sure to rent this sci-fi hit and find out what happens in a Valid vs. Invalid world!
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