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!
Before the wildly successful Stranger Things, there was Super 8. Released eight years ago, J.J. Abrams’ love letter to Spielberg and various ‘80s coming-of-age classic movies is an endearing story deserving of a rewatch. Aliens, treasure, and a dead body provide the jumping off point for E.T., The Goonies, and Stand By Me, with other existential factors feeding this desire for adventure. Loss is often a big ingredient — both the physical loss of a person or place and the ache that comes with growing up — and Super 8 ticks these boxes while feeding into this yearning for the past. Not only is it a surprising source of summer style ideas, but it is an early indicator of Elle Fanning’s bonafide sartorial credentials.
Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard ticks a number of familiar coming-of-age movie tropes, including being from the “wrong side of the tracks” and the only girl of the group. As the latter, she is also the object of affection for protagonist Joe (Joel Courtney). This crush is made even more complicated as Joe’s dad blames Alice’s dad for the death of his wife. Yep, Joel is dealing with the loss of his mother. This nostalgia-fest sounds a little derivative when sketching out the plot in this manner, but the group of teens and the movie they are making ensure Super 8 is far more than a paint-by-numbers narrative.
A world-weary vibe emanates from Alice when we first meet her. She borrows her dad’s car, even though she is only 14-years-old, which is most definitely not legal. Her clothes lean toward a tomboy aesthetic, all flared pants and knit tanks. A pink floral frock is what the boys have picked out for her to wear in the role of "the wife" in their zombie short, which is hastily thrown over Alice’s regular clothes as the train approaches. They need to get the shot for the much desired “production value.”
Alice turns into a zombie as "the wife" but this is not the horrifying image as portrayed on a show like The Walking Dead, even if Alice makes a pretty convincing zombie — Elle Fanning's performance in Super 8 is really special and incredibly layered. As head of makeup, Joe should give tutorials on YouTube. He has got the undead contouring down thanks to the Dick Smith Monster Makeup handbook.
Fanning appeared on the cover of Vogue for the first time in 2017 at the age of 19, but her love affair with fashion started long before this. In a 2010 conversation with Interview magazine, she discusses her preference for vintage clothing, which is evident at the Super 8 premiere in Los Angeles. When looking back at old red carpet photos it is inevitable that there are a lot of outdated and cringe-worthy fashion choices, but this boho vintage frock is not one of those occasions. Fanning could wear this now and end up on the Best Dressed list, a position she is often in.
Clothes are not her only interest as in the 2017 Vogue profile she mentions her desire to direct. Technically this is something Fanning has already done, as Abrams got the Super 8 teens to write and direct the movie-within-the-movie, "The Case." Fanning explained the only story direction from Abrams was that it was a zombie movie otherwise, “we wrote all the lines out and we would hand the scenes to J.J. and he would read them and tweak them. But we basically made that film and we had a camera there that filmed us, so we could all say that we've done what our characters have in the movie.”
Let Super 8 and Elle Fanning be your 2019 summer style guide.
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.