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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Images via Film and Furniture, film-frame.com, Variety, IMDB, and Sciencepole.
Stay tuned to Milk for more unhinged heroines.