Sunday, 3 July 2011

All About Eve: the gradual Eve-olution of a character through fashion (excuse pun)

We see Eve Harrington (played by Anne Baxter) near the end of the film 'All About Eve' as a sophisticated woman with a power wardrobe of mainly black clothes. But how did she get here?

Eve turns on those around her, making life difficult for the woman who plucked her out of obscurity and offered her friendship, Karen Richards (played by Celeste Holm). Eve is wearing a feminine outfit with scallop detailing and a sheer panel, showing off her figure but keeping her demure to preseve her public image of the talented and graceful ingenue.

Eve takes a hand-me-down suit from her idol, Margo Channing (the brilliant Bette Davis), which is an early and poignant indication of her desire to capitalise on their closeness and seep into her life like a slow-acting poison. The creepy smile is further proof of her cunning.

When we first meet Eve she is a naive young girl in a mackintosh and very ugly rain hat. She looks slightly like a bad detective. The pale colourscheme also means that she blends into the background and can seem like a wallflower, when actually she's dying to take centre stage.

[Images my own, taken as stills from the film].

I was enthralled by this story of toxic friendship and power struggles. I decided to tell the fashion story backwards because we first meet Eve as she is collecting an acting award, the Sarah Siddons, for her work. We then flash back to how she reached that stage in her career, beginning life as a super-fan and slight stalker of Margo Channing. The film's final scene is absolutely genius, showing Eve how her actions will leave karma knocking at the door and she is just as replaceable as Margo.

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