What I Talk About When I Talk About Frothing at the Mouth

Lykke Li-- Keeping shit sort of strange since 2007

WHAT is going on with costume design these days? It is blowing my mind. Blowing. My. MIND. Case in point: Rodarte for Black Swan— a movie that I detested in the face of any and all good arguments for why it was anything other than a frolic through a field of gratuity (but the costumes! OH! The Costumes!). Once upon a time, I loved Project Runway. Then I stopped paying for cable. Now I still love Project Runway, but from afar and primarily in theory. Like a childhood friend. Or a food you can’t eat anymore because it makes you violently ill. Point being, I always hated Project Runway a little bit for ruining me on the term “costume.” I won’t further explain this connection– it’s for P.R. fans only.

I don’t mean costumes that employ rubber noses, or weird alien-like cranial protrusions– I just mean clothes. The visual power of well-executed clothing is incredible! Two things have happened recently, two mouth-watering, jaw dropping things; visual smelling salts that brought me out of costume catatonia, back to the land where costuming can open up new worlds, draw out connections between fascinating ideas, and make you want to be a completely different person in a completely different place.

ONE: This week Swedish imp Lykke Li released the video for  her latest single, I Follow Rivers. Lykke Li is interesting to look at with or without a shiny asymmetrical jacket  with architectural elements. If the more fucked up Olsen twin had a baby with Lady Gaga in 1969, you’d have Lykke Li’s face– a little innocent looking, a little intense looking, and definitely interesting enough to stare at for half an hour. Now, imagine her dressed in something that looks like a burqa combined with a banshee’s shroud, being directed through a subzero hinterland by Egyptian dissident, Tarik Saleh. I can’t possibly do written justice to the marvelous weirdness of this video, so just take a moment to watch it. Be forewarned! This song will be stuck in your head for approximately 72 hours.

Don’t you love when she decides “Fuck these shoes!” That’s my favorite part. You don’t need those witch shoes, girl! Just run fucking BAREFOOT through the frozen tundra after that weepy, well dressed man! Anyway, my dream would be to write an entire post about the ways in which Middle Eastern aesthetics have found their way into Western pop culture through a variety of means, but I don’t know anything about that. Cursory research yielded that about 5% of the Swedish population is Middle Eastern or of Middle Eastern descent. I haven’t been able to find any direct connection between the vaguely Middle Eastern aesthetics and the Swedish setting in I Follow Rivers.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand: the power of costuming. The only reason I did ANY research into ANYTHING with regard to Sweden is because I wondered what on earth Lykke Li, one of my favorite musicians, was doing in something that looked like a burqa while chasing a saddened man who looks like he might be Middle Eastern through a winter wonderland. In other words, the dissonance between the clothing and the setting made me think. I assumed there must be some cultural connection I was missing out on.

Chronology of inner thoughts:


That burqa/banshee's shroud does not look warm enough for that tundra

Why are these two in this setting? What's happening with this guy?

I wonder if I could buy a burqa-like thing that looks that awesome in Berkeley somewhere.

Beyond making me think, whoever styled Lykke Li for I Follow Rivers managed to completely transport me to another reality. I am in the process of trying to hunt down said stylist for an interview, I was THAT moved. That’s real, people!

Speaking of being moved in mysterious ways…

TWO: My current favorite blond, Amanda Seyfried, will be playing [Little] Red Riding Hood this March in, well, Red Riding Hood. Apparently it’s the same director responsible for Twilight, which I never saw because everyone in those movies is hideous and beyond that, I can’t get behind movies where girls surrender themselves entirely to dudes with questionable ethics and even more questionable hairstyles. You’re on notice, Robert Pattinson.  Also fyi, queers shouldn’t support the Mormon agenda, even if said agenda only manifests in sexist monster movies written from a place of domestic boredom.

So. Red Riding Hood. There’s no larger cultural dissonance that I can ascribe to Valerie’s (yes, they named little red riding hood “Valerie”) costume; nothing that makes me think, per se. It’s just a beautiful sight– a dramatically oversized, cherry red hooded cape against a snowy landscape.  The visuals alone get my heart pounding. POUNDING!

Check it, big eyes:

Valerie needs to have a sit down


Valerie needs to walk with 8 feet of cape behind her

Valerie's sense of snow

Valerie has her mouth hanging slightly open for most of the movie it seems. Normally I wouldn’t like this because it would remind me of Kiera Knightly, but the red cape keeps me distracted enough to not really notice.

And so the moral of this post is simply this: you cannot go wrong with anything hooded (except for hoodies and certain hooded jackets). Keep it dramatic and lead with your legs when you walk. You’ll win at life. And I might develop an unreasonable crush on you.


About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.


  1. mixtapesforhookers

    Is Valerie an allusion to Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders? That might make me actually want to see it. (Also, side note: That man in the Lykke Li video is kind of a dreamboat.)

  2. Smilla’s Sense of Snow reference… i giggle every time i think about the name of that movie and reference it at least once every time it snows.

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