Cruel Intentions came out in 1999, but save for Ryan Phillippe’s flip phone or Joshua Jackson’s Sun-In-ed hair, it’s a time stamp that’s really not all that obvious. I think it’s by design, specifically by costume design. It isn’t Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead with its shoulder-padded ’80s business suits or The Great Gatsby with its ’20s flapper fringe; the style isn’t just on point, it’s on point in an enduring, timeless way. Aside from the snappy insults (and that whole "I’m impressed" "well I"m in love" exchange, because I’m female) it’s my favorite part of the movie.
Take Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) for example. She’s supposed to be bitchy, rich and powerful, and they could’ve just given her the bag of the moment to communicate that (a Fendi baguette, perhaps). Instead they gave her this wardrobe that doesn’t take shortcuts with flashy logos or trendy pieces (in 1999, those were capri pants and platform sandals) but sticks to corsets, body-skimming sheaths, chiffon blouses, structured blazers, clean makeup and sleek ponytails.
It’s all things that are ladylike and strong, as much so in 1999 or 1940 or 1970 as they are now. Things that slightly intimidate me despite the fact that I’m not Kathryn and I don’t go to Manchester Prep, I’m a real live adult. They are awesome with their Tom Ford-y blend of in-your-face sexuality and refinement, and I wish I had a little more of them in my wardrobe. You’re my style hero, Kathryn, and you haven’t even graduated high school.
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