What Mr Wes Anderson Has Taught Us About Style
Ms Gwyneth Paltrow and Mr Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001. Photograph by Photo 12/Alamy
Here at MR PORTER, we are unfeasibly excited about the imminent release of Mr Wes Anderson’s new movie, Isle Of Dogs. Not just because it’s his second foray into stop-motion animation after the fantastic Fantastic Mr Fox, and not just because its plucky-canines-band-together-to-seek-justice-in-a-dystopian-world plot marries Lassie to The Seven Samurai (who wouldn’t pay to see that?). No, our anticipation springs from the fact that Isle Of Dogs is another opportunity to dive into WesWorld, that parallel universe, just beyond our own, where the protagonists speak, act and dress in a Through The Looking Glass kind of way that mixes old school, avant-garde and plain out-there with beguiling and ineffably stylish results.
Mr Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore, 1998. Photograph by The Ronald Grant Archive
Among Mr Anderson’s famed stylistic quirks – limited colour palettes, jewel-box detail, extensive tracking shots – the menswear always stands out, with the Westhetic, if you will, often coming directly from the man himself. As Mr Richard Brody wrote in The New Yorker, “the virtual signature that’s present like a watermark throughout Anderson’s work is also a part of his personal style, his dress and his manner, his very way of life”. Thus, the caramel-coloured double-breasted corduroy suit worn by Mr Fox, cut in a pleated, crop-legged 1930s style, was, Mr Anderson said, “my very favourite corduroy suit, in my favourite colour I wear 200 days a year”. Other signature dandy-classics-professor pieces preferred by Mr Anderson – chunky rollnecks, soft suede shoes, Norfolk jackets – have been spotted on muses including Mr Bill Murray and Mr Jude Law. But his sensibility informs all his characters. If Mr Anderson were a prodigiously gifted but emotionally fragile tennis whiz, he’d surely pair vintage polo shirts and sweatbands with camel suits, just as Mr Luke Wilson’s Richie Tenenbaum does in The Royal Tenenbaums (a look that anticipated the current sportswear-tailoring mash-up by a good decade).
Messrs Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Adrien Brody in The Darjeeling Limited, 2007. Photograph by Everett Collection Inc/Alamy
Mr Anderson is peerless when using clothes to denote character. We know that the estranged brothers in The Darjeeling Limited have the potential to be reconciled because they’re all wearing subtle variations on the grey flannel suit and have a shared fondness for groovy Louis Vuitton luggage. We know that Max (Mr Jason Schwartzman) in Rushmore is a self-dramatiser obsessed with academe, thanks to the hyper-preppy nature of his just-so blazer, tie and chinos, not to mention his red beret. And we know that Mr Adrien Brody in The Grand Budapest Hotel is A Uniquely Bad Lot, thanks to a high-neck black shirt and tie allied with a Mr Salvador Dalí-esque moustache. (The many varieties of moustache dotted throughout Mr Anderson’s oeuvre surely deserve a study of their own.)
Messrs Bill Murray and Owen Wilson in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004. Photograph by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
Some of Mr Anderson’s costuming inspirations have taken their place alongside Casablanca’s white tux or Drive’s satin bomber as big-screen sartorial icons. We’re thinking in particular of the bright red beanie, inspired by Mr Jacques Cousteau, as seen on Team Zissou in The Life Aquatic (although, for full effect, it should definitely be paired with a teal shirt with ultramarine piping), plus the crimson parka and duck boot combo sported by Mr Bob Balaban in Moonrise Kingdom, the inspiration for countless haute-workwear collections. Will Isle Of Dogs further cement Mr Anderson’s reputation as a cinematic trendsetter? All we can say is, if future catwalks are awash with doggy baseball shirts or post-apocalyptic metallic jumpsuits, you’ll have one fashion-forward auteur to thank.
Mr Bob Balaban in Moonrise Kingdom, 2012. Photograph by Photoshot
Isle of Dogs is in cinemas on 23 March (US) and 30 March (UK)