With mad-for-Dior Eva Peron and even madder-for-fur Cruella De Vil, this holiday season is offering the perfect double wedding between film and fashion. Madonna’s Evita and Glenn Close’s 101 Dalmatians, two of Disney’s biggest holiday movies, feature grandes dames who love clothes to the point of obsession. The divas’ allure has cast a spell on both designers and department stores. Pinning its hopes on the trend explosions set off by past films like Flashdance and Annie Hall, the fashion world has unleashed a flood of super-tailored Evita outfits (Bloomingdale’s has opened Evita boutiques in nine stores nationwide) and items slathered with spots. ”Retailers are so anxious to get a hook to get people into the stores, they’ll jump on anything,” says Faye Landes, an apparel industry analyst at Smith Barney. But do women really want to dress like over-the-top characters from Hollywood movies?
Perhaps not enough to hang off their balconies in copies of the baldly retro Evita style. While Madonna shines elegantly in the clothes, she also comes off as matronly. ”I don’t think it’s what women want. It’s a very severe look,” says Alan Millstein, editor of the Fashion Network Report. ”The only thing missing is a riding crop.”
Bloomie’s says initial sales are encouraging (the New York boutique sold 72 items in its first day and a half of business), but fashion bible Harper’s Bazaar has already dismissed Evita as the look that didn’t happen, even though the film doesn’t open until Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, back at the doghouse, the question is how high fashion and mass-appeal Disney can cotton to each other. The conglomerate has collared a pack of Dalmatian accessories. But no one seems to want to look like a two-legged ad for a four-legged farce. ”I wouldn’t dress someone in Dalmatian,” sniffs Phillip Bloch, stylist to such stars as Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. ”That’s now on the list of things you don’t want to be associated with.”