Dissecting Blowup – Winter Whites and Forest Corduroy

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This past weekend I finally got a chance Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 film Blowup after being recommended it countless times over the past year.  Overall, the film is a mod-era masterpiece, but there was one scene in particular where the main character Thomas, a photographer played by David Hemmings, traipses through a park, snapping off frames of a couple in the distance, that I keep coming back to.  The scene is beautiful and brilliant, but I must admit, that’s not why this scene stuck in my mind.  Wearing a pair of Beatle boots, stark white denim, a button down shirt with the collars undone, and a forest green jacket, Hemmings’ outfit, which would become his uniform for much of the film, had me considering the remaining few cold months ahead.

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Now, Blowup takes place in what I would assume to be spring or summer, as indicated by the numerous Carnaby Street dresses that canvas the women in the film, but Hemmings’ uniform just felt like the cold to me.  Against the lush trees of the park, Hemmings jacket was practically camouflage, fading him into his surroundings, as he bounded from trunk to trunk, cutting across the grass like a kid running through a park in the fall.  While the scene is a beautiful blended palate of greens, blues, and whites, it was Hemmings’ forest jacket that I honed in on.  I had initially thought his jacket to be green corduroy, but as the movie wore on, I realized it was closer to a velvet, lacking the distinct wale of corduroy. Nonetheless Hennings’ jacket got me thinking about how much I love green corduroy in the cooler months.

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Put This On has already waxed on forest corduroy and fall, and rightfully so, as there’s few things more fit for the cold than corduroy and a deep green tone.  Forest cord has a character all it’s own, well-suited for eccentrics like Updike, Burroughs, Cocker, and of course Hemmings.  There’s something about a green corduroy that just feels smart in the cooler months, as a simultaneous reflection of the atmosphere and an armor against it.  What I like best about Hemmings’ attire, is that while the green jacket is what pulls you in, the rest of the look is anchored by solids.  Hemmings’ white jeans, which look to me to be just a pair of Levi’s 501’s, and his black Beatle boots, are uncomplicated, so as to not detract from the forest green focal point by cramming too many colors or textures in there.

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“Winter whites” are something that I hear people talk about a lot, but I rarely actually like in practice, mainly because when I see people actually wearing white denim in winter it’s ridiculously slim, and quite frankly tight denim in the winter just seems counter-intuitive to me.  Hemmings’ jeans actually fit him, cut with enough room to allow him to dash around the park without looking like he’s about to bust open the seams.  His black Beatles boots, a shoe that’s really seen these days, finish things off with a fitting nod to the mod spirit that runs a parallel narrative throughout the movie.  Winter can feel stale at times, full of the same drab tweed colors, navys, and browns day after day, but Hemmings’ outfit provides a nice template for how to appropriately break up this monotony by injecting new tones and textures not often seen in the winter repertoire.

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