Steve McQueen’s “little ax” outfit design is a rebellion of style

The costume design for the entire “Small Ax”, a collection of five films directed by Steve McQueen that depicts the life of the British West Indies at one time, is a mosaic of precise details. To the untrained eye, ordinary clothing is certainly a stunning relic of the West Indies expression. Watch the episode with your wardrobe in mind and you’ll notice a vibrant, bespoke personal style hidden in the seams. After learning that a young woman made it by hand, an A-line dress is more than a dress. A polyester robe decorated with a stained glass-like pattern becomes a mantle when Don wears it. “The important thing is that everyone has a particular style and way of doing things,” McQueen said. “When you look at every episode, it’s not just clothes. It’s all style. It’s not just what you do, it’s also the way you do it.”

Fashion was a non-violent rebellion for the British West Indies in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In the “Small Ax,” McQueen captures a young Caribbean heritage who opposes the established and biased norms of conservative British society. It’s clear how blacks walk, talk, and dress. Follow the code to determine the style.The most obvious are the spots ites, Gold and green throughout the series.

“The’Small Ax’style is a small ax in itself,” McQueen summoned an African saying popularized by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1973. Jacqueline Durran “Woman”, who won the Oscar for “Anna Karenina” and “Little”, worked as a costume designer in two films, “Lovers Rock” and “Alex Wheatle”. “I wanted to incorporate as much concrete detail as possible,” Durran said.

The second movie, Lovers Rock, was set primarily at the 17-year-old Cynthia (Eris George) birthday party and was exercised by 500,000 Caribbean people (including children), descendants of the Windrush generation. Shows originality. He emigrated to England between 1948 and 1970. Young women in pre-planned outfits wear jewel-like dresses with a textured finish, while men wear suits to skip button-downs. One character, named Franklin (Michael Ward), wears a navy shirt with a geometric pattern reminiscent of the starry sky of the Caribbean Sea. Another party participant, Martha (Amarage St. Obin), is wearing a handmade purple rainbow dress, one of the few custom-made pieces for this movie.

The stride of youth street culture is also exhibited in the 4th “Alex Wheatle”. The film follows the true story of a young adult novelist in Jamaica, England. Wheatle, a film consultant, brought in photographs from a young age to help Durand design the style of the time. “We had a fairly specific and accurate reference,” she said. “He was a great reference point for what we all were aiming for.”

The fashion of “Alex Wheatle” has an influence and also functions as a comic relief. In one memorable scene, a young man named Dennis (Jonathan Jules), who is a friend of Alex (Shay Cole), takes him shopping. It’s an effort to free him from his square-like outfit and teach him “the coolness of Brixton.”

“Are you Kuku or a beast? Where did you land on this planet?” Dennis jokes.

“Shirley Oaks” and Alex tell Chipper “in Sally.”

“And do they put on livestock-made clothes there?”

(Will Robson Scott / Amazon Prime Video.)

Wearing a beret and a tailored peacoat, Dennis roams the streets of Brixton and eventually stays in front of a men’s clothing store. Dennis points out the dripping of the window and tells Alex that “Fara is heading for everything.”

McQueen said the men’s clothing store they visited was a landmark. He told me it was a “black shop” even though it wasn’t owned by a black man. “And at the uprising, it was a black shop when it came to dresses, so I don’t think the shop was damaged.”

McQueen was born in London in 1969, but his parents emigrated from Trinidad and Grenada. He grew up a little more fashion-oriented and developed a style trend. He sold a vintage tweed suit with a friend at Radbrook Grove. His sister was a weaving student, as was Stephanie (Tamara Lawrence) in the final episode “Education”. She took a ferry to Curry in France and went to a runway show in Paris in a “bunk bed”. McQueen enjoyed the style of magazines she brought home. “I was like,’Wow, what’s this?’ It was all about youth culture,” he said. “It was all about people making their own. It was all about wearing polo shirts and cutting their arms.”

His mother sometimes used a sewing machine to dress up for the party, but she didn’t always understand the child’s style. “We weren’t waiting for Christian Dior. We weren’t waiting for Louis Vuitton. You just got the pattern, and you got the fabric. It’s about invention. It was, “said McQueen. “It was great to experiment. We found ourselves in ourselves who have music and fashion.”

Steve McQueen (left) and John Boyega (Leroy Logan) "Red, white, and blue."

(Will Robson Scott / Amazon Prime Video)

Young Alex Wheatle is also crazy about music. Comfortable in Brixton’s new home, he spends all his money in record stores and immerses himself in the underground reggae music scene and sound system culture. He has developed a unique sound called “Crucial Rocker” and is funding speaker habits by selling weeds.

Music is an important thread of the “little ax” and a pillar of Caribbean culture. (Growing up, McQueen idolized a ska band called Specials and Fun Boy Three.) Lisa Duncan was the costume designer for the first movie, Mangrove. The protagonist, Frank Clitchlow (Shaun Parks), is a Trinidad who opened the Notting Hill restaurant in 1968, the cornerstone of the Diaspora in the West Indies. In one scene, steelpan is played in the middle of All Saints Road. Here, Caribbean fashion is less well represented by Frank, Artia (Letitia Wright), and the rest of the Mangrove Nine characters found in practical streetwear. Meanwhile, Grenada’s Shortney masqueraders and Jamaican Pocomania folk dancers best represent the lives and traditions they have left behind.

Such peculiarity came from having a diverse costume team. In addition to Durand and Duncan, McQueen hired designer Cinade Kidao. All three were from the UK and were supported by the department. Half of it was of the Caribbean.

That diversity is especially apparent when it comes to the multifaceted style of the working class. Kida is the costume designer for the third movie in the collection, “Red, White and Blue,” highlighting Britain’s tendency to adapt and the tendency to resist Caribbean fraud. Leroy Logan (John Boyega) draws meaning from the uniform he wears. As a research scientist, he often wears a T-shirt and corduroy under his lab coat, while others wear suits. He later became a police officer to modify London’s racist police culture from the inside out. When Leroy isn’t working, he wears street clothes typical of young British Jamaicans in the 80’s. In the early scene, Leroy rocks a gold T-shirt from a Second World Black and African arts and culture festival.

Kida, who also designed costumes for the final anthology movie “Education” based roughly on McQueen’s upbringing, said that uniforms were “clothes intended to be unified” in the UK, but were eventually alienated. The western Indian wearer who ends up. “Police uniforms are a highly controversial garment among the British black community in the early 1980s, and the image of black men in police uniforms is that of people in both black and white communities. It made me feel uncomfortable, “says Mr. Kitao. “I think uniforms mean Leroy’s isolation.”

John Boyega as Leroy Logan, left, cinematographer Chavie Kirchner "Red, white, and blue."

“Red, white, blue” set, left is Leroy Logan, John Boyega as cinematographer Chavie Kirchner.

(Will Robson Scott / Amazon Prime Video)

In the UK, the style of “Lovers Rock” shows the warm atmosphere of Saturday night if Leroy’s jersey chilled him in the West Indies. Thick smoke, heavy bass, sweaty walls, slow dance. Jojo Williams, the artist who worked on each film, said that he textured his hair and applied make-up to “show the beauty of black skin.” Men’s shirts (somewhat influenced by what McQueen’s father wore) complement women’s dresses in a deliberate way. “Everything had to be a kind of fusion. You can switch partners and match,” McQueen said. “Collisions, contrasts, and everything that complements each other had to be in one room. It looks unobtrusive and eye-catching, so nothing sticks out. Everything is in order. I had to be. “

As the party’s crescendo intensity, selector Parker B (Alexander James Blake), who plays disco, reggae and lovers rock, hangs a light bulb around his neck. McQueen had the name of that type of energy. “Black; it’s called black,” he said. “What happens in a situation where people do so is called black. People have no preconceptions. They are in it and do something … whatever it is, it’s black. “

The costume design for each film is a kaleidoscope that shows how generations within the West Indian community interact and express each other. Each garment or accessory evokes emotions and symbolizes fit, rebellion, or both. “The first time I saw Alex Wheatle, he was naked. He was deprived of all identities and was given an identity. The identities fit. It’s his prison uniform,” McQueen said. It was. “It’s a completely different feeling in Lovers Rock. It’s elaborate. Saturday nights are people who work from 9am to 5pm. And they Live to be the one they want to be, how They want to be They live to be free at that moment. Lovers Rock was the church of these youth. It’s free. “

Steve McQueen’s “little ax” outfit design is a rebellion of style

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