This Season's Most Fashionable Psycho Thrillers

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The S/S17 shows found abundant inspiration in horror films: we decode the terrifying characters behind the collections

The horror movies of yesteryear are embedded in our collective consciousness: echoes of characters from the 1960s to the 00s reappear again and again, especially at this hallowed time of year. But it’s not just party-goers that these films influence: fashion designers regularly plunder film archives for inspiration and few genres are as visually stimulating and memorable as that of the psycho thriller. The 80s gave us an armory of aesthetically arresting flicks from The Shining to The Lost Boys while that same decade set the scene for movies like American Psycho to appear decades later. The late 60s and early 70s were immortalised in influential films like Don’t Look Now and Rosemary’s Baby, where the style of the time was encapsulated in crystalline clarity – and each of these iconic films found themselves translated onto the S/S17 catwalks. We explore the collections that brought fright-night fashion into the new season: from Miu Miu to Balenciaga. 

1. Shelley Duvall in The Shining
Despite the occasional slurry of snot and some unabashed snivelling, Shelley Duvall’s Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a style icon: her abundance of roll-necks, a conservative-looking Victoriana blouse and a red-tights-apron-dress combo decree it so. While Duvall’s nervously sticky tendrils of wet-look hair might be seen at Simone Rocha S/S17, Miuccia Prada offered an elegant take on the character’s penchant for layering. Though the 1940s high-waisted knickers wouldn’t fare too well around the snowy estate of the Overlook Hotel, the checked wrap shirt and side-buttoned sweater would get you a Bourbon in the Gold Room in no time.  

2. Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now
A marriage of innovation and timelessness ties Nicolas Roeg’s influential Don’t Look Now to Tomas Maier’s S/S17 collection for Bottega Veneta. The uncanny and jagged editing of the Daphne du Maurier adaptation was revolutionary at the time: the opening scene sees Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie’s actions juxtaposed with those of their children in the garden where an accident quickly takes their daughter’s life. Not just a deeply creepy horror movie, Don’t Look Now is a portrait of grief within a marriage. Julie Christie’s conservative outfits – a herringbone tweed overcoat, blouses, cardigans and 70s knits – paint a restrained, yet sophisticated character, trussed up in her sorrow. For S/S17, Maier talked of an ageless customer, one with a need for something quiet yet cultivated – and if the Lauren Hutton side-swept curls weren't intentional reference to Christie in this movie, then they are proof, if nothing else, of just how entrenched its visual references have become. 

3. Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby
Miuccia Prada has, on more than one occasion (A/W06 and A/W15 to be precise), used Mia Farrow’s wardrobe in Rosemary’s Baby as inspiration for a Miu Miu collection – though one wonders if the character has snuck into other offerings, too, particularly S/S17. With Farrow’s array of ‘60s silhouettes – Mary Quant collars, printed shifts and empire-line nighties in sweet shop shades – the costume design is all killer no filler: a style inspiration gift that keeps on giving. Roman Polanski’s horror adaptation is unlike others of its time: veering away from the dark, gothic tendencies of the genre and giving a bright and glossy texture that is at once glamorous and appealing, the disturbing events are grounded in a contemporary reality of dinner parties and New York apartments, laundrettes and sidewalks. Every scene is designed to be drunk in, making each one all the more bedeviling, and one can place this season's Miu Miu girl distinctly within them.

4. Kim Walker in Heathers
A precursor to both Clueless and Mean Girls, Heathers offered an astounding array of 80s identikit preppy girl gang looks. Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice period) stars in this teen thriller, at the centre of a school killing frenzy that is spurred on by Christian Slater’s darkly appealing character, J.D. Power suits, padded shoulders, coloured tights and squeaky patent pumps all serve to depict a girded grapple for status between the popular girls. Need proof? Kim Walker’s character, Heather Chandler, wears a ‘scrunchie of power’ in Nancy Reagen red. Boxy shoulders transported Demna Gvasalia’s latest collection for S/S17 Balenciaga straight into the 80s too, complete with bright spandex tights, cinched waists and crystal brooches pinned close to the throat (as well as other places). You couldn’t find a trendier Halloween costume than as a Heather of your choice.  

5. Kiefer Sutherland and the lost boys in The Lost Boys
Though the sleepy town of Santa Carla, California, the setting for Joel Schumacher’s teen vampire movie, and the Shetland Isles, the landscape that inspired Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen S/S17, have little in common, there are multiple Fair Isle threads that weave the two together. The leather bodices, handkerchief point skirts, knitted lace and traditional wool shawls present in the collection could have been taken from the dressing room of Star, The Lost Boys lead love interest. A lifeblood of 80’s rock’n’roll – leather jackets, flamboyantly embroidered epaulettes, gypsy bell studding – meanwhile hail from the blooded torsos of Kiefer Sutherland’s vampire gang as much as they do from this iconic brand. A shade of 90s grunge courtesy of low-slung skirts draped over bootlegs on the McQueen catwalk offer a delightfully hedonistic take on this rock’n’roll vampirism. 

6. Christian Bale in American Psycho
Patrick Bateman’s eighties Wall Street wardrobe offers period perfection in this 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel. From deep gorged lapels and wide shoulders to preppy pinstriping and window-paned wool two-pieces, his investment firm ensembles are curated with Upper West Side sharpness. While such 80s masterpieces are well infused throughout Balenciaga’s S/S17 collection (see previous note on Heathers X Gvasalia’s similarities), it’s Bateman’s plastic raincoat that offers the most joyous comparison. In this particular scene, Bateman covers his Valentino suit with a plastic mackintosh in order to kill Jared Leto’s character, Paul Allen, with an axe. The final ensembles of rubberized coats, knotted at the neck that closed the Balenciaga show were off-puttingly all encompassing, shrouding the model’s bodies right down to the ankle; they’d make a chicly creepy costume, with or without the axe.