Black Swan Detour


What sort of a fashion blogger would I be if I didn't post about Black Swan whose film stills may be competing with Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette in the most-proliferated-in-the-fashion-blogosphere rankings?  Actually I was about to give it a miss altogether because a) it would have been difficult to review the film from the perspective of a film critic when so many do it so much better and b) it would have been a repetitive task to dissect the film's fashion credentials after the film has been out in the States for a good few months now.  I wanted to make one singular point of how much I loved London-based design studio La Boca's graphics for the adverts of the film except The Guardian did a far more competent piece on it.   

Thankfully the forces in film marketing moved about in a way that put Black Swan-themed ballet classes at Frame studio in Shoreditch with kit provided by Bloch, MAC cosmetics make-overs to give you either a White/Black Swan smoky eye and a screening of Black Swan at The Aubin Cinema in one afternoon/night bonanza yesterday to sway me to write about something that doesn't go along the lines of "Oooh… RODARTE tutu!".  It well and truly gave cause for a rare but genuine pat on the PR back.

So to the first part of the evening's festivities when we all had to regress to a time when we were five years old and had to do compulsory ballet classes even though posture and demeanour clearly indicated that some people were not fit to dance.  Oh, right just me then.  Even if ballet wasn't on your primary school agenda, getting changed into leotards and tights is reminiscent of any group PE experiences.  Except this time round, there were choruses of "Oh my hips look huge in these…".


Tara from the PR company Robinson Pfeffer, primary instigator of all these shenanigans had the fiddly job of sewing all the elastics to the shoes, a task that I vaguely recall my mother doing whilst cursing "Why is it that you have to learn ballet again?".


Hah… no such luck of seeing a picture of me attempting to prop my leg up onto the ballet barre.  Instead you get poor postured me faking it in a Bloch black leotard and pink tights before the class commenced…


The instructor was I think, the only one who got the full Black Swan eye make-up treatment as apparently it takes about an hour to get just spot on.  We were put to our non-balletic paces set to the soundtrack of the film, going over all the basics – the positions of the arms and feet, pli√©s, temps lev√©, jet√© – all serving to point out how unflexible my body is.  At least there wasn't a hard-faced French lady telling me I had spirit but no ability.  What's worse than having no ability?  Possesion of an abundance of pointless spirit…

I believe that Frame will be running more formal Black Swan-inspired barre classes from the 5th February onwards every Saturday for a month which involves barre work, floor barre as well as a simple dance routine loosely based on the Black Swan's dance if you wish to delve into the dance element a bit more. 



I won't make it at the barre or beyond but I'm free to have a balletic element going on in my outfit so yesterday it was all about pale frothy latte/pink colours as well as touches of grey, a colour combination that incidentally costume designer Amy Westcott uses extremely well in the film where Natalie Portman's character is practising or warming up.  The Rodarte costumes for the final performance scenes were of course fantastical but the tight sheer shrugs, layering of bodies/camisoles, knits and wrapover skirts seemed to me, equally potent too (I do look forward to the Mulleavy's future film work though now they've shored up their proper accreditation on films).  Luckily Hong Kong label Plotz were on hand to steer me towards this decorative take on warm-up gear with their ways of elevating and manipulating fine cotton jersey with this cream dress with knotted detailing and leggings that start as cream tights and end as grey jersey leggings with padded kneecaps…



Thanks to the lovely Shini of Park and Cube for taking the far superior pics that follow (until we get to film stills of course…) and for letting me play around with her fancy DSLR that I don't understand at all…


Knee cap protection for potential bruising, a problem which frequently afflicts me…


On to MAC's part to play in the night.  I was in a 'Why-the-hell-not?' sort of mood and though I normally object to this amount of eye makeup and false eyelashes because it plays all sorts of havoc with my contact lenses, for one night only I played the role of 'Girl who is excited about MAKE-UP!'. 



I'm not quite sure the role suits me especially as I look like your typical evil stepmother character in a generic Korean soap opera.  Maybe I'll go for it in future years when I may or may not manifest as that character…

Oh and here's Steve and I are sitting in a comfy couch at the Aubin Cinema, in the basement of Aubin and Wills on Redchurch Street.  I hadn't ventured into the cinema before because all things Jack Wills/Aubin and Wills-related makes me angry about the antiques indoor market in Angel's Camden Passage that suddenly got turned into a Jack Wills store one day.  I went in looking for silver trinkets and found an English Abercrombie & Fitch surrounding me.  I have to say though that the screening room is a delight – all velvet chairs and couches, cushions, blankets and foot rests with just the smattering of Aubin and Wills branding… then again the screen is a collab with Soho House group so I'd expect self-indulgent cushtiness all round…



On to the film itself.  How to review it without using an excess of superlatives.  However much I resisted getting swept away by it, in the end, I was indeed swept away by it.  This was in a way, a Darren Aronofsky film that felt far more elevated than say The Wrestler (supposedly a companion film to Black Swan in their exploration of athletes/artists who strive for perfection) but that could just be my bias towards the subject at hand.  In fact, I suppose there's no way of escaping my personal bias towards female characters who internalise their struggles, piling pressure on themselves as well as bending to pressure from others and trying to perfect an artform in a meticulous and studied way.  On a far less extreme level, characters like Nina exist in all artforms and vocations and I ended up recalling instances seen at my old girl's school that echoed touches of the corps de ballet in a dance company that is financially unstable as well as ridden with competitive spirit. 

Beyond the personal plight of Nina which I found engaging was Aronofsky's methods of communicating all of that internalised paranoia.  I completely agreed with Peter Bradshaw's comments of the film being the best portrayal of female breakdown since Roman Polanski's Repulsion.  In a way, Black Swan might even better Repulsion in that respect as certain hammy elements seen in Polanski's film are negated due to Aronofsky's choice of camera angles and movement.  I thought the use of Tchaikovsky's score was particularly effective when specific composed-for-the-film soundtrack would not have worked in certain scenes.  I'm also glad that the soundtrack composer Clint Mansell did step up and say that the score's strength is in Tchaikovsky (it was disqualified from Oscar nomination for the reason that pre-existing music was used). 

It goes without saying that the cast did good.  Very good.  Nominations and accolades will tell you that Natalie Portman is deservedly the star of the film but I also think that the rest of the cast supports Nina's spiralling downfall and flirtations with her inner Black Swan VERY well indeed – company director, bitchy ballerina, not-so-bitchy but sexy n' free ballerina, aging prima ballerina and frightful stage mother – all of those stereotypes could have been spectacularly stereotypical but manages to break free to make the film all the more absorbing. 








54 Replies to “Black Swan Detour”

  1. You as a ballerina is pretty stunning. Are ballerinas the new vampires? Will pointe shoes be the new it shoe? I had no idea that had Black Swan ballet classes, that is epic.

  2. i loved this film. i think you looked good in the makeup as well! ps. i absolutely died when i saw that picture of you and your boy. “omfg that is the cutest thing ever.”

  3. It was a great film… but I couldn’t help but think this was Aronofsky’s version of ‘showgirls’ staring Elizabeth Berkley.

  4. WOW, that sounds like the best kind of pr event and how very thoughtful- a rareity! I would have been a little wobbly about stripping down to spandex but everyone looks like they were taking it in their stride. The make up looks gorge! The film is brilliant and so fast paced, you wouldn’t dare look away even without the beautiful costume and make up.

  5. I so want to see this film. What a fantastic evening you had, i love the look of the cinema and the whole event.. wow i miss London sometimes!

  6. After watching this incredible film I wanted to dance all the way home, much to the embarrassment of my friends! Shini’s such a good snapper. She always knows how to get the perfect light where I fail to understand my DSLR at all! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with full on eye make up, you look beautiful, as always.

  7. I am RIDICULOUSLY excited to see this film! Literally cannot wait!
    Your eye-makeup looks beautiful like that by the way, really suits you.

  8. This looks like such fun! I’ve recently amped up my ballet classes to three a week. Feeling good about it. By the way, that film horrified me. So good, so powerful, so horrifying.

  9. Forgot to say that I’m wearing a Topshop satin jacket over a Burberry Trench and both the jersey cream dress and the padded leggings are by a Hong Kong label called Plotz (answering your question, odirtyhearts) with Irregular Choice brogues.
    Moi: Funnily enough, a commentor accused Phillip French on Guardian (ok, yes, I read the Guardian A LOT!), who incidentally didn’t like the film and found it pretentious and melodramatic, of expecting to see Showgirls and being disappointed….

  10. I loved it, though I still don’t get the massive hype around Natalie Portman playing yet another variation on child-woman (a broken, paranoid, possibly already-crazy one). It has shades of Perfect Blue+ My Summer of Love+ The Red Shoes, which might make it derivative but I LOVE those so it’s all good, I suppose.

  11. Lovely post – great pictures. You’re outfit was even cuter in the flesh!
    Please come down to some more ballet classes soon at Frame so you can perfect your point and swan arms !!
    Anyone else whose interested in Black Swan inspired ballet classes they start on Saturdays in Shoreditch on 5th Feb

  12. Hello Susie!
    This event was fantastic! I love ballet and I did when I was a kid and start over again only one year and half ago and I can say how though it is, but also very rewarding when you see yourself doing the movements and the beautiful dance. Of course I will always be an amateur, but I happy one 😉
    All my kisses from Brazil,

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