Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fashions Of The Future

There are only three social classes in 'Zardoz' and, thoughtfully, just like in Maoist China, there is a specific dress code for each. Let's start at the bottom, with those seed spreading flipping Brutals.

Brutals are basically the bulk of the population. They live in great, unruly packs in the country and spend their time trying to survive, trying to breed, and trying to escape the unwelcome attentions of the raping, murdering Exterminators (see below). Far too tired and harassed to be that interested in fashion, they can mainly be seen in raggy variations of the dour outfits of the pre-apocalypse, i.e. most of their clothes seem to be nearly 250 years old. Sounds like my wardrobe.

Without wishing to be offensive, Zardoz was filmed in Ireland, so it looks like Boorman hired a load of locals and told them to put dirt on their faces and a piece of rope around their waist. Their scraggy hair and defeated, pock marked faces immediately indentify them as inhabitants of the British Isles in the mid seventies. There is a shot of them at the transparent wall of The Vortex, looking needy and uncool as the Eternals toodle about doing some light gardening. The contrast is grotesque, like those awful pictures of holidaymakers in briefs and bikinis sitting on a beach alongside the drowned corpse of an illegal immigrant, or like spotting Thelonius Monk in the crowd at a Jamie Cullum concert.

Exterminators may be bastards, but they cut a dash. Incredibly sinister two faced Zardoz masks, body paint and big red nappies don't perhaps scream 'catwalk', but it's certainly a look and they work it. These brief but bold outfits are usually accessorised with knee boots, bandoliers and the spattered blood of their hapless victims. Red means danger, alright.

Uber Exterminator Zed sets the gold standard with his thick tache, lustrous pony tail and matted chest rug, but as he settles into life in The Vortex, someone obviously runs him up a leisure outfit. Red it may be, but a suede jerkin, culottes, tights and ballet pumps is most definitely NOT standard Exterminator issue. He's changed - in more than one sense of the word. Does he intend to spend his whole life in front of that mirror? As Quentin Crisp would say 'if he can possibly help it'.

Eternals basically do what I'd do if I was effortlessly upper class and utterly idle, i.e. walk around in posh pyjamas all day. The head dresses are not something that I particularly agree with, but they add a slightly exotic and futuristic dash to what is, basically, a fairly straightforward take on the well to do Hippy style. The ladies don't really try and cover their chests, but then as all the blokes are impotent, I don't suppose it's that big a deal.

For formal occasions, the Eternals model a kind of Justice League on their day off look, all kaftan dresses and painted shirts. Evidently, knitting is still popular in the future. The old pre-immortal Eternals just had to go. Their sole appearance in a flashback resembles a page torn from a really crappy catalogue. It's like a war between polo necks and kaftans, where the victor can only be bad clothes.

Finally, transgressive Eternals are immediately aged, and swap their bright and floaty things for musty cocktail dresses, tatty evening wear and bad make up.

No doubt the shower cap has a special relevance, but it always reminds me of my Nan's neighbour, an old lady who always wore a swimming hat lined with foil in case of mind control and swimming goggles in case of gas. Thinking about it, she could have been in Zardoz. Perhaps, in her mind, she was.

1 comment:

  1. The Eternal females are all scrawny with small tits, near sexless, half pensive, half snooty, floating through a terribly pretty world where those not from their clique are of no consequence...bit like the girls in the student union bar.

    John Alderton in curly wig, smock and tights...terrific. He is slightly more plausible here than as the teacher for a class of adolescents clearly all older than him.