I can’t tell the reason why some movies spark your attention in the exact moment you hear about them. This doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does, it’s fire! I’ve recently experienced this weird feeling with The Place Beyond the Pines by Derek Cianfrance, which speaks of destiny and fatherhood. Yesterday I watched it at the cinema and I loved it, but I knew I would love it since I first saw some pictures from the set. A bleached blonde Ryan Gosling wearing a Metallica t-shirt and paint-splattered leather pants is more than enough to get me excited from a style point of view (and not only ;)).
Handsome Luke is one of those epic characters that leave a mark in an actor’s career. Gosling has often played such roles (just think of Danny Balint in The Believer, one of my favourite movies ever) but this time he’s been able to surpass himself. It seems he’s not only playing a role, but that he’s becoming his character before our own eyes, as the director explained in a recent interview. He’s a motorcycle stunt rider who turns into a bank robber after learning he’s got a one-year-old son, but he’s also a man who’s defeated by life, despite his efforts to improve and to be part of his son’s life. That’s why his dimension is mythical: he’s a locally-successful rider (the idea of the fearless motorcycle rider is kind of epic in itself), but he’s not rich; he tries to go through a path of self-redemption, but his life ends up in tragedy. His appearance – tattoos possibly made in prison, bleached hair, a red leather jacket, ripped t-shirts – reinforces this dimension and makes him impossibly cool.
The Metallica t-shirt he wears in the first part of the movie is – for me – a reason of his charm. The costume designer of the movie, Erin Benach, explained the story behind this particular t-shirt, which was selected upon Cianfrance’s suggestion. The one worn by Luke is a pre-owned t-shirt from the 80s; as a matter of fact, this style was first released in 1984/1985, when the album with the same title came out. Despite not being my favourite Metallica album (I prefer …And Justice for All and Master of Puppets), it surely had the best cover ever, whose artwork was a reference to the content of the title track – an electric chair hit by lightnings and a man being electrocuted on the back. Thank God this is not one of those unique pieces you see on movies only, so I’ve already bought my own Ride the Lightning t-shirt on eBay: I think I will cut the sleeves, so as to get something as similar as possible to the t-shirt seen on Luke. I’m pretty excited about this purchase: I’ve been lemming it for ages, so it will take a special place in my rock t-shirt collection.
I don’t like writing about what I wear: I was a personal style blogger many years ago and I’m glad I left that phase behind, but I’m posting pics of myself just to show you some of the garments I’m most attached to.
Ha! This picture was taken last January in the cafeteria toilet at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I was there to see the Hollywood Costume exhibition: I had just got my hair cut in Baker Street and I took a self-portrait in front of the mirror to keep record of it. That day I was wearing one of my most treasured possessions – a grey t-shirt by the Italian band Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti, which I’ve been listening to since the 90s. The print of the front is a drawing of the band members by one of them, the singer (and illustrator) Davide Toffolo.
The teachers’ toilet at school is one of the places where I usually shot self-portraits like the one above. Here I was wearing one of the most beautiful t-shirts I own: I bought it in the early 2000s at a local music shop. I usually wear t-shirts of bands I like, but this is an exception: I’ve never listened to Children of Bodom, but their Follow the Reaper print immediately caught my attention. Later I learnt that it reproduced their 2000 album cover.
B and I in front of the mirror at the cinema last summer. I was wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt, which I had bought at a bookshop in Venice in 2010. The Irons’ artworks have always been amazing but this one – by Melvyn Grant – is really awesome; it’s a reproduction of the cover of The Final Frontier, an album released in August 2010. I own another Iron Maiden t-shirt (the one of A Matter of Life and Death) but I haven’t been able to find a picture of me wearing it to post here.
If you are regular readers of this blog, you know my passion for the old days and for the 90s. The t-shirt above is a dream come true after many years. In the mid-90s I listened to the Sonic Youth, but I didn’t have any of their t-shirts; I remember I first saw this Washing Machine tee on a boy I met at university. I fell in love with it but for some reason I never had the chance to buy it. When I found it on eBay, I immediately purchased it; some years ago I even bought a onesie version of it for B 😉 The same t-shirt was worn by the two Sonic Youth fans who appear on the cover of the 1995 album.
Oh, this is probably my students’ favourite t-shirt. I always get compliments from them when I wear it; one of them explained what is special about it – the eyes of the nurse and her half-mask. It’s another Sonic Youth t-shirt: it’s not the original artwork of their 2004 album Sonic Nurse (that was a painting by Richard Prince), but it’s clearly inspired to it. I don’t remember when I bought it but it holds a special place in my collection because I was wearing it when I took one of my favourite pictures with B.
Talking about the 90s, here is a staple of my wardrobe – my beloved In Utero t-shirt. This is one of the oldest t-shirts I own: I bought it in the late 90s and I’ve worn it ever since. I’m so attached to it because it reproduces the cover of my favourite album by Nirvana – a TAM (trasparent anatomical manikin) with angel wings superimposed, a romantic, sad and kind of poetic image. I like wearing it in many different ways: in the picture above I was wearing it with a H&M diamanté cardigan and plaid trousers (not pictured).
Last Saturday at the cinema I wore it with a blue cardigan and jeans (not pictured), a vintage Burberry camel coat (which I got in London) and a Cambridge Satchel Company sapphire shoulder bag.
The second Nirvana t-shirt I have is a mystery, because I’ve never seen another one like this. I got it on eBay in the early 2000s from an Italian seller who lived in Ukraine; I remember he told me the story of the t-shirt, which he had got in Germany, which sounds pretty adventurous, right? I really like it because it shows the band members as doodles; the name of the band is scribbled, too. This picture was taken in the teachers’ toilet in the second school I teach in.
The latest addition to my collection is a classic for those who love Joy Division – the Unknown Pleasures t-shirt. The story behind the 1979 album cover, here reproduced, is fascinating: it was designed by Peter Saville, but the image was chosen by Stephen Morris, the drummer of the band. It was taken from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy and it showed radio waves from PSR B1919+21, the first radio pulsar discovered. The original black-on-white image was turned into a white-on-black one. I’ve been lemming it for ages, but seeing it on Dorrit Bradshaw (Stefania Owen) in The Carrie Diaries made me decide to buy it at last.
There are many other t-shirts I’d like to see in my collection, but at the moment I can’t wait to receive the Metallica one, so as to customize it and channel my inner Handsome Luke in it. Are there any garments or accessories seen in movies which have striken your imagination? Have you ever tried to find something similar or even to buy them? Share your thoughts in the comments, because I think this is such an interesting topic! After all, this is part of the cinema magic, right?