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Film and television culture is littered with impeccably dressed villain protagonists – think Cruella of 101 Dalmatians fame, Miranda Priestley of The Devil Wears Prada, and pretty much any human baddie from the Disney canon. The traditional hero – even the kickass ones − can’t seem to compare when it comes to style! What are the sartorial leanings of anti-heroes, such as the serial killer with a heart of gold, or the dancer whose quest for perfectionism takes her mind to dark places?
Fatally flawed yet guided by good intentions, the following trio of leading characters prove that despite their morally ambiguous principles, they are on the pulse when it comes to the latest fashion trends. For looks that brim with subversive edge, take your pick from three wardrobes celebrating everything from edgy glam to wearable gothcore!
Full of anarchic energy but secretly a softie, Harley Quinn is all about going extra on pretty much everything, including fashion. Once locked in an abusive relationship with the ultimate bad guy – the Joker − Harley is fuelled more by a longing for justice than by an insatiable appetite for destruction, even though her wild antics create a lot of collateral damage along the way. Combining sex kitten vibes with punk goddess energy, her style is by turns colorful and moody, yet always boundary-pushing. From jackets made of caution tape to Marilyn Monroe-inspired evening wear, Harley’s wardrobe proves that anti-heroes don’t have to conform to a grungy, black-clad mold to make a lasting impression.
Inspired by Harley’s hard-hitting style, I’ve come up with an outfit that pays tribute to all facets of her persona – clown, seductress and action girl. For colorful, grungy contrast, I’ve layered a furry shacket in bright blue over a skintight graphic tee in bubblegum pink, and paired them with black denim short shorts. Bright pink boots add the ideal mix of femme vibes and kickass energy. A layered necklace mixing pearls with chains provides soft-hard contrast, and a furry tote bag in a striking checkered pattern delivers the final carnivalesque touch.
Sweet, prim and perennially clad in comfy neutrals, prima ballerina and perfectionist Nina Sayers from the 2010 psychological thriller Black Swan is a natural for the role of the virtuous White Swan in Swan Lake, yet she struggles to let loose for the role of the seductive Black Swan. Or so she thought. This uptown outfit with gothcore vibes nods to Nina’s repressed, good girl vibes as well as her darker and tougher onstage persona. The monochrome look can be worn during the day to wow the crowds, or after midnight to make a hard-edged yet sultry entrance.
The aim is to balance light with dark and sweetness with sass – something Nina herself had trouble accomplishing. That’s why I’m juxtaposing a sleeveless turtleneck embellished with hot pink contrast seams against a floaty black skirt with ballerina vibes. A belted faux leather coat and a matching scrunchie amp up the dominatrix energy, but they are immediately undercut by nails painted with nude nail polish and a pair of pearl-studded hoops oozing sophistication.
A revenge thriller with a feminist core, the 2020 movie Promising Young Woman is packed with morally shocking moments as well as delicious fashion. At its heart is anti-heroine Cassie Thomas, a thirty-something slacker with a secret agenda – piercing the facades of the “nice guys” around her in order to avenge the death of a beloved friend. Cassie is not devoid of heroic qualities, but often resorts to unscrupulous means to achieve her agenda. Cassie’s retro-tinged, candy-colored wardrobe, which celebrates Y2K vibes while brimming with rom-com heroine energy, stand in direct contrast to her inner vitriol and vindictive behavior.
Inspired by Cassie’s parade of unapologetically girly outfits, which range from a high-octane heart-print sweater to a date-ready tea dress, I’ve come up with a whimsical outfit predominantly in pink and white, save for a splash of mint green. A checkered cardigan and puffy jacket provide the sartorial equivalent of a sugar rush, especially when paired with cream-colored corduroy pants as well as pink-and-white sneakers. Mint-colored nails and a pale green shoulder bag add an extra vibrant kick to the look. Go for this ensemble the next time you’re in need of a break from dark thoughts with something bright, fun and OTT!
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