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Style in Review: The Housemaid (1960)
If you're anything like me, you probably immediately found comfort during this STAY IN by watching every film and tv show on your to do list. For the first 24 hours of the quarantine I did this like it was my J O B. After I got through the baselines of Tiger King and Love is Blind (with a sprinkling of rewatches of GIlmore Girls and Breaking Bad in the background), I hunkered down to watch one of the weirdly spookiest, authentic but surreal films I've seen since Get Out (2017). If you liked the 2019 Oscar winning film, Parasite, I think you'll enjoy this black and white film discussing class, gender and seduction.
Released in 1960 in black and white, The Housemaid features female character archetypes that we are familiar with in the transitioning 1960s of South Korea. These "types" persist today: the loyal traditional housewife that is stereotypically beautiful, resilient, hard working and willing to sacrifice everything for her husband and family. Then there's the male idolizing piano student and naive factory worker. And let's not forget the sweet seemingly weak young daughter and the patriarchal man-obsessed femme fatale: modern, young, wicked and willing to do anything to snatch that man!
The main male character has a very boring and sad role where he just seems to let things happen to him, however the WOMEN really run this 60s world with their antics and some cases... NON antics.
Each woman possesses a power over this man which of course, stirs the plot.
Overall, the film is beautifully shot with very interesting use of sets to depict the feeling and transition of the story. The use of fashion in film is meant depict to the true nature of each character.
I couldn't help but accessorize their looks with a little DLEX ice to show their true style.
Like the BOBBIE necklace, the wife is sturdy, beautiful with soft lines all around that hide her inner strength. The director's fashion choice ties in traditional Korean hanbok for the mother to show her conservative outlook on life. Sharp, violent, but seductively beautiful, the man can't find the pricks beyond the soft!
Then there is the buttoned-up piano student who doesn't DARE show her true feelings. She is first depicted as vulnerable and innocence in her little floral dress. Her transition into a femme fatale drastically alters her look from pretty virginal elastic waist dress soaked through like a wet t-shirt. Also can't forget her sexy LBD in end where she shows chill control. Get the outfit: Cara Earrings, Brynn Brooch, A.W.A.K.E. off-shoulder top.
Seemingly delicate and pure, the piano student uses her charms to get in deep into the hearts of the family as smooth as the NORA necklace slides in between our cleavage. Her look: Nora Necklace, Vera Choker, and A.W.A.K.E. trench coat.
As a Korean-American woman born in the US, but with very traditional parents, this film spoke to me. Not just because of the spookiness of it all, but of the compartmentalization of these "feminine" attributes that were limited to each character.
Then and now, I think women are so much more complicated. We each possess all the characteristics of each of the film's characters: kindness, motherhood, independent worker, feminine camaraderie, loyalty and of course jealousy and capability of violence both verbal and physical with an underlying beauty that transcends these individual attributes. With that said, I would say if each of these characters were in a single character, they're probably be wearing this guy, our Talia:
Fiercely protective of themselves and what they want, interestingly feminine with pearls, faith in their environment and the ability to really make some noise.
Hey DLEX Army...each week, we'll be reviewing a classic film (pre 1990) that features strong and interesting women characters. Our girl Robbin will chat about the plot and character development, but really, we'll get down into what's important and try to determine : A) What DYLAN LEX piece best represents this woman and why OR B) What would this character wear with _____ outfit in the film?
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