Baz Luhrmann, director adored by fashion

Austin Butler in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis (courtesy Warner Bros)

His Elvis is the most awaited film on the Croisette. And it couldn’t be otherwise for a director who made the history of Cannes film festivalthe only one to have presented, over the years, two feature films at the opening of the fair (red Mill in 2001 and Gatsby the magnificent in 2013) and able to make a splash, since its inception in 1992, with an eccentric and award-winning film. After all, everything was already written in those garish family genes, fruit of the union between a dance teacher and the owner of a small provincial cinema, which immediately characterized Baz Luhrmann and his passions, the trampled dancefloor with his mother and the worn seats of his father’s cinema, destined to become the dazzling foundations of his cinema.

Visionary, dreamer, lover of music and dance, the Australian director knew how to give shape to his desires by transferring them to celluloid and giving life to a new way of approaching the seventh art. Personal, intuitive, in which the explosive mix of romance, fantasy and decadence reinterpreted dramas from all eras, turning them into visceral and electrifying pop fantasies. Luhrmann updated william shakespeare before it is allowed to do so, launching among the stars Leonardo DiCaprio far ahead of the glories of Titanic. He redefined the very concept of musicals by ridding it of the dusty patina of time also through screaming soundtracks and clothes worthy of a cover parade. He built an alternative and post-modern aesthetic whose exaggerated, acrobatic and colorful narrative opened new perspectives rich in cultural references, which from old Hollywood plunge into the contemporary era exasperated by costumes, in a melting pot of references and dizzying symbolism. Master of pop culture in the music-cinema format, Baz Luhrmann arrives today in Cannes with the highly anticipated biopic Elviswho transformed the king of rock ‘n’ roll into a superhero and his story into an epic in which good versus evil, the sirens of rebellion, the ephemeral of glory, merge with American tragedy and human wickedness to celebrate the first, true rebel of mass culture.

Born in Sydney in 1962 and raised in the rural town of Herons Creek, Mark Anthony Baz Luhrmann had assimilated, from an early age, his parents’ inclinations, between paso doble and indigestion of old films, alternating them with the discovery of interminable spaces of the Australian continent, that they had so much influence in the construction of its decorations. But the young man still did not know it, on the contrary, he believed himself more simply destined for a future as an actor when, after finishing high school (1980), he began to play a few secondary roles in a local soap opera. . Luhrmann later managed to gain admission to the National Institute of Dramatic Art from Sydney where he not only founded his own theater company, but began to expand his vision far beyond the stage. Experimentation was the watchword of an artist who was beginning to find new ways of staging classic work without strictly following tradition, but rather shaking it up to make it, so to speak, mainstream. He tries his hand at musical comedy in the 1940s, with Italian opera (Bohemian from Giacomo Puccini), approached the Shakespeare of Dream of a summer night and he garnered awards and accolades and confidence by showing off signing a play, that one Ballroom strictly which, a few years later, also gave him fame. We are in 1992 and from a play of a few minutes performed by students in search of an author, the first feature film by Baz Luhrmann wins the prize Youth Prize in Cannes and becomes a cinematic affair.

Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla in the movie Elvis (courtesy Warner Bros)

When Romeo + Juliet was born in 1996, it was clear to everyone that we were facing the first manifesto of its post-modern cinema which would then be perfected in the years to come. The love story that blossomed in the Verona beach of the 90s between Romeo (Leonardo de Caprio) and Juliet (Claire Danish) was tragically faithful to the original Shakespearean drama, but steeped in a contemporaneity bordering on dystopia, with colorful costumes and stunning sets, a publicity soundtrack and Luhrmann’s signature high-speed editing as its corollary. It was a success from all points of view, even on the sentimental level, given that the director, a year later, married the costume designer of the film and all the others to come, the brilliant Catherine Martinintended to be an accomplice to his vision for his ability to translate into costumes the stories of youth, freedom and beauty that Baz’s films told.

“I invent visual language and she transforms it into reality.” From DiCaprio’s Hawaiian shirts to the Danes’ angel-winged dress, to the imaginative outfits of cancan dancers exasperated by the beauty of Nicole Kidman, the step was short. It was in 2001 when, in red Millthe love story between the poet Christian (Ewan McGregor) and cabaret actress Satin (Nicole Kidman) mounted at strobe speed to the frenzied rhythm of the U2 and the gods Nirvana it upset both end-of-the-century Paris and the very conception of musical comedy according to Hollywood dogma, giving strength to a genre now considered dead. The right key for this was to be found in the very essence of Baz Luhrmann’s vision combined with the exceptional character of the cast, with an original script supported by scenographies bordering on the dream, with the addition of a platinum disc soundtrack and suits. , of course, where the theatrical spectacle of the 19th century became a pretext to draw on the memory of the great French creators, jean paul Gaultier And Thierry Mugler globally.

between prices Oscar And golden globesBaz Luhrmann has found a way to return to his beloved continent of origin to sign a colossal epic, Australiain 2008, which again saw Nicole Kidman as the protagonist flanked by another Australian star, Hugh Jackman. The result was an immersive cinematic experience that reclaimed the epic of great films of the past to deliver it, evidently Luhrmann’s way, to audiences who enjoyed it as a rock spectacle.

An image from The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann (courtesy Prada)

Or almost, because if the director’s hand in this case was less overwhelming, he certainly kept his revolutionary and spangled energy to give his unexpected, modern, pop but also tragically romantic interpretation to Gatsby the magnificent in 2013, the masterpiece of Francis Scott Fitzgerald which has been revised to the rhythm of the music of Jay Z and of Florence and the machine. Again Leonardo DiCaprio, yet another daring and unconventional reinterpretation of a great classic that could have seemed like a gamble but which, at the box office, turned out to be a triumph. It was moreover the concern of the director, that of being loved by the public as much as he was the object of polemical criticism from the severe critics who did not forgive him the experimental screw of his cinematographic language. The fact is that even the parable of his Gatsby, praised even by the American writer’s granddaughter, perfectly recreated the decadent exuberance depicted in the novel with a pastiche of imagery, redundant design, luxurious stunning complemented to perfection by the stage clothes, for which they collaborated, under the watchful eye of Catherine Martin, Miuccia Prada, Brooks Brothers And Tiffany & co and that, unsurprisingly, they won a Oscar and many other prizes. In this film even more than in the previous ones, Baz Luhrmann had brought to paroxysm his almost obsessive propensity for detail, the ideal companion for sublimating the passionate emotivity of the stories he told and which, in fact , was essential. .

Baz Luhrmann (Wikipedia)

His love for sewing is combined with that of music, the director having tried several times to produce musical albums. This allowed her to broaden her creative horizon in fashion itself. And he made his big debut by directing a lavish four-minute short starring his muse Nicole Kidman as a short story. Marilyn Monroe for the advertisement of perfume N°5 of Chanel, which not only still holds the record for the most expensive advertising spot ever made, but also had the merit of paving the way, which has become customary, for author collaborations between fashion and cinema. And again, on the occasion of the Met Gala in 2012, he made a series of videos, Schiaparelli and Prada: impossible conversationsin which Miuccia Prada compared herself to Elsa Schiaparelliplayed by actress Judy Davis, based on the late creator’s autobiography. “For me, fashion has always been something that goes beyond clothes,” Luhrmann said himself after the launch of the fashion film he signed, which celebrated the collaboration between H&M and the stylist, Erdemreleased in 2017, through a perfect fusion of contemporary languages.

Until today when, finally, the wait to discover what is unanimously considered the cinematic event of the year, is about to come to an end thanks to the biopic Elvis, whose usual Luhrmann fireworks will accompany the discovery of this historical period after which the music was no longer the same. Everything from the exploration of the complicated relationship between the star of Memphis, embodied by Austin Butlerand his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker who will have the face of tom hank. A true celebration of stars and stripes in which there will also be room for Italy from the music because the director strongly wanted the contribution of Maneskin who will sing the song of Elvis Presley if i can dreamthe same one that the group evoked during its participation in the last Eurovision Song Contest 2022 (to see CFP May 16). And for fashion, because once again Baz Luhrmann wanted to renew the collaboration with Miuccia Prada which resulted in an immersion in the archives of Prada and Miu Miu to give shape to new creations capable of distilling the iconic essence of protagonists of the film referring to a contemporary past that is still absolutely current. (All rights reserved)

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