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SYFY WIRE Look of the Week

Look of the Week: The new Charlie's Angels closet

By Emma Fraser
Charlie's Angels

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!

In TV and film, it is hard to find better-dressed characters than covert agents. Undercover missions require access to a seemingly endless supply of outfits in order to blend in or stand out. The new Charlie’s Angels trailer gives us a peek inside the closet of the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot, which looks set to be one of the most stylish films of the year.

Charlie's Angels
The Charlie’s Angels fashion legacy goes back to the 1976 TV lineup. Farrah Fawcett’s feathered 'do is as era-defining as Jennifer Aniston’s infamous Friends haircut. The trio of ass-kicking women has always been incredibly glamorous; however, Cali-casual styling is just as prominent on the original ABC series as fancy sequined attire. Sure, it was the '70s, so the leering aspect of the camerawork is impossible to avoid, but even the 2000 movie found it hard to bypass some of these clothing tropes. Distraction and decoy tactics using clothing are on display in this new trailer, but it feels a lot less sleazy.

Jeans, hoodies, and casual button-down shirts are an important part of Charlie’s Angels' sartorial history, which wasn't all bikinis and halter-necks. The off-duty aspect is a thread that runs through the new version, which sees a mix of frocks and slouchy sweaters among the more specific undercover outfits.

Charlie's Angels
A trailer is meant to get you excited for a new film, and I can safely say I am already eagerly anticipating this new addition to the Charlie's Angels universe. It has also scored high on the trailer rewatch scale thanks to the many gasp-worthy clothing moments flashing up in quick succession.

Costume designer Kym Barrett is probably best known for her work on The Matrix, but she is enjoying a hot streak beyond 20-year retrospectives regarding Neo's (Keanu Reeves) influence on fashion. She is the designer behind intricate Aquaman garments— with only minimal CGI involved — and the red utilitarian Us boilersuits. The latter is a big 2019 trend, as the heavy-duty sibling to the jumpsuit is having a fashion moment. No doubt the red boilersuit of Us will be a go-to group Halloween costume idea. Barrett's costume design on Charlie's Angels looks set to be just as influential, and I have already added a number of these outfits to my wish list.

Charlie's Angels
Kristen Stewart is already a style icon, but as Sabina she somehow even makes equestrian gear look cool af. A mix of casual slouchy sweaters, bra-strap-revealing vest tops, and a penchant for animal print are just a few ways in which Sabina is going to influence my wardrobe.

Joining Stewart in the new lineup is Ella Balinska as former MI6 Agent Jane, as well as new recruit Elena, played by Naomi Scott, who is currently riding high from the success of Aladdin. All three women are serving up look after look, including the rather retro and stylized polka-dot lab coats with blunt banged wigs.

Charlie's Angels
Every covert operation needs a secret headquarters. In giving the new recruit a guided tour, it introduces the audience to this world. The new trailer showcases the costumes in my favorite manner: showing us the room full of toys. Elizabeth Banks as one of several Bosleys — Djimon Hounsou and Patrick Stewart also share this character name — tells them to “Take her to the closet. Gear her up.”

This is the kind of spy-fashion and gadget-revealing scene that is a staple of this genre, which I will never get bored of. Gadgets are not the only weapons in the spy arsenal, as the right wig or uniform has the power to disarm a target.

Charlie's Angels
Not only that, but there are some costume easter eggs referencing two different moments from the Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz version of Charlie's Angels. A blue racing jumpsuit and a traditional Austrian dirndl can be seen among some very covetable coats.

With Elizabeth Banks behind the camera, the costuming in this trailer at no point feels like a throwback to some of the more leering bikini or cleave-heavy shots. Slouchy off-the-shoulder knits, visible bra straps, and legs for days don’t read as being anything more than a style choice.

It is also clear when Kristen Stewart's character Sabina is dressing for an operation and when she is in off-duty attire. Two and a half minutes isn't a great deal of time to distill nuance, but Barrett's costume design visually helps tell that story.

Charlie's Angels
A matchy-matchy aspect is always going to exist in the world of Charlie’s Angels when they are undercover, but the wide shot of these women together showcases their different style. Jane’s racing stripe suit look is serving up athleisure goals, Sabina is effortlessly cool, Elena as the new recruit is the pop of color, and Banks as Bosley is oozing pure power dressing in expensive-looking coats and statement jewelry.

With the film set in Berlin, it is hard not to think of Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde. Of course, that was a period movie set in the late ‘80s, but there is a similar aesthetic approach mixing seductive dresses, casual attire, and businesswear. The covert genre offers up a fantasy of playing dress-up, and it looks like the new Charlie’s Angels are going to continue this tradition with aplomb.

Charlie’s Angels premieres on November 15, 2019. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.