To get ready for the MoMA's new Pedro Almodóvar retrospective, we give you 5 of our favorite and most stylish heroines from his films—including (but not limited to) Raimunda (above) from 'Volver.'



5 of Pedro Almodóvar's Most Haunting & Stylish Heroines

Fans of sex, drugs, and Penelope Cruz better strap in: MoMA will be holding a career retrospective of Pedro Almodóvar’s films, starting this November and running through the first two weeks of December. The series will start with a screening of his latest work, Julieta, before showing all 20 of his films, from the low-fi Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980) to the Oscar, BAFTA, and Cannes award-winning All About My Mother (1999).

And since the lead women in Almodóvar’s films are nothing if not colorful, to honor the occasion—and as a toast to life well lived on Benzedrine—we give you 5 of our favorite heroines from his films, complete with a breakdown of each character’s style, so you can truly get in the mood. 

1. Raimunda, Volver, played by Penelope Cruz

Your mother has returned from the dead. Your daughter has just killed your ex, who was trying to rape her, and you’ve just helped dump the corpse—which was hidden inside a freezer, mind you—into the ground. What’s your next move? Wearing vintage, ’50s-era, housewife dresses, of course! Bonus points if you’re able to nab kitschy prints, undo the top button (or three), give yourself sex hair, and layer on eyeliner like Sephora is going out of business. Therapy is for the weak.

Also helps if you’re chopping vegetables at all times.

2. Lucia, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, played by Julieta Serrano

Lucia is a patient at a psychiatric ward who’s just been released and is now in search of her ex-lover. Now out on the town, this is a woman who knows a thing or two about concealing her craziness (a true heroine). Her first step? Wear pink—it’s how you signal to the world you’re a pleasant, lovely person. Whether or not you’re mildly unhinged on the inside is another question. Pair a saccharine blush dress with big hair, false eyelashes, and gloves, and no one will suspect anything until you start holding them at gunpoint. 

Just be sure to keep those crazy eyes in check.

3. Leo, The Flower of My Secret, played by Marisa Paredes

From the looks of the fashion landscape, the ’90s might not ever become irrelevant again, which is why you’d do well to channel it Almodóvar-style by taking cues from The Flower of My Secret‘s quietly tortured Leo. A romance novelist with a penchant for Tarantino-level blood and gore—that’s particularly startling when compared to the Mills & Boon-style fantasies her publisher makes her write—Leo floats through life with a fabulous perm and in minimalist, blood-red gowns. Sometimes the key to life is just making sure you get the Pantone number right.

Prod DB © Ciby 2000 - El Deseo S.A. / DR LA FLEUR DE MON SECRET (LA FLOR DE MI SECRETO) de Pedro Almodovar 1995 ESP / FRA avec Marisa Paredes porte, femme mure, s'appuyer
Still, we do not endorse perms.

4. Andrea, Kika, played by Victoria Abril

This one’s easy. Step one: get on TV (Andrea is a distinctly deranged but deliciously dramatic TV reporter). Step two: wear head-to-toe Jean Paul Gaultier at his over-the-top finest. In other words, the more latex, ripped edges, and boob-flashing, the better. 

The real challenge will be finding a Gaultier piece of this stature.

5. Gloria, What Have I Done to Deserve This?, played by Carmen Maura

Desperate housewife Gloria takes the step all of us have probably dreamt of doing at some point in our lives: knocking out someone we really hate with a hefty leg of jamón (keep the wine for yourself). She’s killed her husband, but no one ever suspects it—partially because she’s fed the evidence to the very police who are investigating the death, but also because she’s dressed in dowdy, nondescript clothes that make her seem like not a single conniving thought has ever crossed her mind, ever. The takeaway? Don’t dress too flashy if you decide to commit a crime.

And a last takeaway: always refer to ham as jamón.

Images via Film and Furniture,, Variety, IMDB, and Sciencepole.

Stay tuned to Milk for more unhinged heroines. 

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