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SYFY WIRE Look of the Week

Look of the Week: the Birds of Prey teaser sartorial squad goals

By Emma Fraser
Margot Robbie Harley Quinn Birds of Prey

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

The new Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) teaser doesn't reveal anything to do with plot — it is rare to get a teaser marking the start of production — but it does set the tone of what we can expect when the movie is released next February. It is also the perfect encapsulation of marketing a movie with a certain social media platform in mind as it plays like an Instagram video, even if at 20 seconds it is a tad too long for a single Instagram Story.

Quick cuts between characters, neon lighting, and the focus on feet, weapons, and drinking silhouettes give the impression of a social event that is even more chaotic than Fyre Festive. Moderat's "A New Error" as the song choice only adds to this hazy influencer aesthetic, but from this brief tease alone, I know I want to go to this party. The dress code appears to be casual with a hint of homemade sparkle — BYOW (bring your own weapon).

Birds of Prey
Margot Robbie also used the social media site to debut Harley Quinn’s new colorful streamer infused look; she’s ditching the Daddy’s Lil Monster ripped shirt and barely-there shorts for a hot pink crop top, orange suspenders, and a bolero that could've been fashioned from pom-pom balls or streamers.

It looks like a party shop challenge on Project Runway, and Robbie is more than making it work. This is Club Kid meets Fifth Element; furthermore, it is a big improvement on her Suicide Squad costume.

I know there will be some who disagree on this stance, but the male gaze-infused aspect of this costuming and the way Harley was framed in Suicide Squad took away her empowerment. Robbie told The Washington Post that she didn’t have the best time in that ensemble, particularly with the physical aspect as “It’s obviously not the most comfortable getup.”

It might have been one of the most popular Halloween costumes of 2016, but I am so ready for the Birds of Prey attire, which looks like it has been handmade by Harley herself rather than picked up at Hot Topic. Prior to this unveiling, Robbie told Yahoo Movies, "There will be new Halloween costumes out there one day.” She's not wrong, because now fans have plenty of time to make something before this movie is even released.

Birds of Prey
The teaser, which lingers on black boots paired with sparkly red and purple socks, gives a hint at what we can expect stylistically from director Cathy Yan. There isn’t a costume designer listed yet, but there are clear sartorial concepts.

A yellow leather bralet worn over a black bra combined with a big metallic belt, blue pants, and Harley’s baseball bat (it is unclear if it is Harley brandishing this weapon in the teaser) is a ‘90s punky aesthetic. It is part Tank Girl, part Gwen Stefani singing “Just a Girl.” The orange braces instantly conjure up an image of Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) from The Fifth Element.

Birds of Prey
The lady squad vibe was important to Robbie when considering revisiting this character, something she mentioned to Moviefone last year. “I want to make a girl gang, R-rated film that Harley is a part of.”

This teaser also reveals the various members of this gang, including Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), as well as the super steezy looking villains, Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) and Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). This Look of the Week is not just about Harley’s fabulous new ensemble, but also the women (and men) we have just been introduced to.

Birds of Prey
This is only a snapshot of what's to come, given that the movie has only just started shooting and the glimpses of each costume are just that. But, as with the recent Game of Thrones preview, there is still plenty to say from minimal footage. Huntress is ready for combat; her hood and crossbow are the two focal points.

Birds of Prey
Black Canary has a whole rock chick aesthetic, from heavy eyeliner to the fingerless gloves clutching the gold microphone; this is the moment the teaser could easily be mistaken for a music video.

Classic button down and jeans are giving Renee Montoya a badass vibe, as she doesn’t need a clothing gimmick. A pink cast covered in expletives and doodles combined with a hoodie is a pure DGAF aesthetic for Cassandra Cain.

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In fact, in each quick flash of these new characters alongside Harley, the whole thing suggests a devil-may-care attitude.

Dark colors dominate the costuming of the two male villains, and this brief glimpse also explains Chris Messina’s new bleach bottle ‘do, which he debuted at the Golden Globes. He rolled up in a tux sporting this new look that shouldn’t be attractive and yet still is. At Sundance, Zac Efron followed suit, but as far as we know this is not for a role. Anyway, if a third guy goes platinum we can officially call it a trend.

Birds of Prey
Messina is playing Victor Zsasz, a serial killer who carves a tally onto himself for each victim. His hair is just one indicator that he’s not a good dude — alternatively, it suggests he is a boyband member trying to hold onto the good old days —  and the same can be said for Ewan McGregor’s gold-rimmed glasses, which are themselves veering into murderer style territory. The sheer tee and suit are also setting off dangerous douchebag alarms. He’s playing a ruthless crime lord and while we can see all of his handsome face, the name Black Mask suggests an accessory is still to come.  

This 20-second teaser sets the tone even if it doesn’t have to define what Birds of Prey will be; the female gaze doesn’t mean the costumes won’t be provocative. But as Bumblebee recently showed, there is a way to have your lead in short shorts and it not feel like the camera is staring at her ass — coincidentally, Birds of Prey also happens to be penned by Bumblebee screenwriter Christina Hodson.

Harley hasn't had a complete makeover, as her signature crimson lip color returns, but her bunches are a lot shorter. The Puddin’ choker has been switched out for a Bruce dog collar, which could be a Batman reference but is more likely pointing to Harley’s co-creator Bruce Timm.

Birds of Prey
Sipping on a cocktail, followed by sucking on a lollipop as the words “See You Soon” appear on the screen, does add to the impression that this is either a music video tease or fashion brand Look Book unveiling, but it doesn’t need to be anything more than this.

Harley Quinn (and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller) was the best thing about Suicide Squad; Margot Robbie, as this character, doesn’t need a reinvention to make us forget her performance in that movie. Instead, this acts as a reminder that Harley Quinn is a badass and she has a new squad to hang out with. This is one party I will definitely be RSVP’ing to.