BLADE RUNNER FASHION: How Does 2049 Compare to the Original?
Most style savants believed the epic Blade Runner fashion in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller would remain unequaled. Does Blade Runner 2049 prove them wrong?
by Staci Layne Wilson
Ridley Scott’s sci-fi opus Blade Runner (1982) is beyond iconic. From the Philip K. Dick short story, to the A-list cast, cutting-edge special effects, and its indelible Blade Runner fashion effect, the film is a beauty from start to finish. Even those who haven’t seen the movie in ages know exactly what Deckard (Harrison Ford), Rachel (Sean Young), Roy (Rutger Hauer), and Pris (Daryl Hannah) looked like… due in large part to the exemplar costumes created by Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan.
The threads were in keeping with the futuristic film noir production design, making for inventive Blade Runner fashion influenced by the past, yet felt contemporary. There were no cliché science-fiction jumpsuits, no homogenous lookalike drones, but rather, a mélange of 1940s Art Deco styling, Japanese-inspired layered, asymmetrical couture, and ripped-up punk-rock attitude adorning each sharply-drawn character.
In turn, Blade Runner fashion inspired the upper echelon of the catwalk, including Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, and Vivienne Westwood. Even we everyday mortals were motivated to wear see-thru raincoats or tweed jackets with big shoulder-pads.
So you can imagine the pressure on the costume designer for the long-awaited 35-years-in-the-making sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Enter Renée April, whose previous film credits include director Denis Villeneuve’s previous films, as well as Rise of the Planet of the Apes. At first, she didn’t want the higher-than-high profile gig: “I said ‘Oh my God, I’m going to fail. It’s too much, I can’t.”
But, of course, she did. Villeneuve told her, “It’s the same world, except it’s more brutal. It’s really brutal.” April says, “This world did not evolve very much, because they’re dying. It’s bad over there. If you’re still on Earth it’s because it’s not going very well for you. The ones that stayed behind, it’s because they’re not healthy enough or they’re not rich enough. The Earth is dying, basically, and they’re in survival mode.” And so, “I had to restrain myself,” she adds, though there were still opportunities to show some pizzazz. “We’re using a lot of fake fur – because fur hasn’t existed for years – and plastic, and lights, a lot of breathing masks because it’s so polluted.”
Sharp-eyed fans will notice similarities in the new characters and their counterparts. For instance, both Deckard and Officer K. (Ryan Gosling) have Maltese Falcon-motivated raincoats, but with high collars;
the ladies of pleasure, Pris and Mariette (Mackenzie Davis) are street and pretty in punk;
while the love interests, Rachel and Joi (Ana de Armas), are most polished and often wear classic black.
The so-called villains, Roy and Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), have their own East Asian Zen-inspired Blade Runner fashion style.
You can see it in all its garment-glory when Blade Runner 2049 comes out nationwide on October 6, 2017. Read my review here.
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