BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
Winona Ryder has played a kaleidoscope of characters that can be easily reduced to parody: the goth girl, the twenty-something hipster, and the brooding teen. This seems to add to her morbid charm. She's been a paradox, a popular unpopular and this is reflected in the way she is costumed.
Lydia Deets is romantic goth meets the eighties. In line with Burton’s aesthetic, her pale makeup is over-the-top, but her punky raven-haired tresses are compelling and her red wedding dress was the envy of many little darklings that wanted to be just like her.
Ryder’s wardrobe as the misfit Veronica seems to be making way for the next decade. It’s femme ruffles and off the shoulder blouses, and blue skirts seem like the blooming of pastel goth. Against the backdrop of foggy forests, cruel high school hallways and the fluorescence of liquor store lights, Veronica’s clothes add a dark humor to the mayhem of this teen tale.
Ryder plays Charlotte Flax, whose strong willed stubbornness is playfully imbued in her refusal to buy lady shoes. She knocks around town in boots and black and peter pan collars. Near the end of her film, she’s playing dress up in her mother’s stilletos and glamour girl pink and black polka dotted dress.
Edward Scissorhands, 1990
It’s cool to see Ryder as a sunny blonde, especially since the actress is a natural blonde. As in most beauty and the beast-esque tales, Ryder is the bright radiance to her dark prince, but her costuming alludes to the sinister delusion of 1960’s americana.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992
It was rumored that there was negative tension between Ryder and Gary Oldman on the set of this film, but their on-screen chemistry was seething. Ryder’s performance as Mina Parker was amplified by her lush turn of the century costuming. It seems kismet when Mina meets up with Dracula and they’re wearing coordinating frocks.
The Age of Innocence, 1993
It’s easy to see why this film won an academy award for Best Costuming. Ryder plays May Welland, who is betrothed to the main character, Newland Archer, played by Daniel Day Lewis. The film serves as a social critique of the treatment of women in 1870’s New York, and May Welland is a stark contrast to her liberal cousin, the Countess Olenska, played to dazzling effect by Michelle Pfeiffer.
These differences are relayed in the costuming. Lace and tulle bubble around May's arms and neck like a halo. Her jewels are dainty teardrops, and she is always a hyper femme vision of modesty. Playing the docile wife, she is pushed to the periphery because he husband is is really in love with Olenska.
Reality Bites, 1994
No doubt Winona Ryder as Lelaina Pierce helped take this film to cult status. With a mix of femme fabrics and masculine silhouettes, Lelaia is the epitome of mid-nineties grunge fashion. She’s like a subtle combustion of Clara Bow, and Courtney Love.
Black Swan, 2011
In the role the newly defunct ballerina, Beth Macintyre, Ryder is the picture of dark glamour. This film brought about a ballerina fashion frenzy. Even Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by its' baroque aesthetic and used the film's soundtrack in his 2011 winter runway show. Because this movie is about the good and the dangerous, you get a delectable tension in costuming.
Monique Quintana is the Fashion and Beauty Editor of Luna Luna and blogs at razorhousemagazine.com. She holds and MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from CSU Fresno and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, The Acentos Review, and Clash Mesia, among other places. She teaches English at Fresno City College.