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Look of the Week: Jeff Goldblum goes for gold in Thor: Ragnarok

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Oct 21, 2018

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!

Jeff Goldblum is the Chosen One of the Month, which extends to Look of the Week, in which we started with his red carpet style evolution and are now moving on to some of his most notable genre movie costumes. First, we discussed Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; now we are moving on to another huge franchise.

It was only a matter of time before Jeff Goldblum joined the MCU, but despite years of seeing Goldblum's delightful on- and off-screen presence, nothing could prepare us for quite how perfect he is as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok. Goldblum first appeared dancing through the closing credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to showing this character’s penchant for ‘80s-sounding music. And while the dancing is cute, seeing him interact with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and other MCU newbies Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Topaz (Rachel House) is much better.

Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok
Costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo is experienced in creating garments for faraway worlds, including Avatar, John Carter, and Warcraft. Thor and Loki’s looks are already long established, however, they both get Sakaar makeovers during Thor: Ragnarok.

Grandmaster rules over Sakaar, a trash planet where nothing quite fits, which is reflected in the garments. There is of course opulence in what he wears, but while this is a trash planet, his costuming is far from garbage. The asymmetric sleeves point to this angular aesthetic. Rubeo told Fashionista this was intentionally in contrast to Asgard’s “very classic and very smooth” fashion. On Sakaar it “is really all about angles and incredible and odd shapes and colors.” One long sleeve also makes for extra dramatic hand-on-the-hip posing when things aren't going in favor of the Grandmaster.

Grandmaster’s winged shoulder gold robe drips with regality, but also reads like a nod toward Flash Gordon with a dash of David Bowie in his makeup. Heavy eyeliner, a blue chin streak, and blue nail polish really set the whole thing off. The original Jack Kirby comic book images provided a lot of the major costume pointers, which is very much the case for Cate Blanchett as Hela — Rubeo added a contemporary cold shoulder detail showing that even villains can't escape this trend. Even the shape of Grandmaster’s shoulders are the same, but other major changes were made, including switching out his blue skin for blue eyeliner.

Thor Ragnarok, Jeff Goldblum

Credit: Marvel Studios

Director Taika Waititi explained to IGN that the reason his Grandmaster isn’t blue is that Jeff Goldblum has previously been this shade in Earth Girls Are Easy. Waititi also didn’t want to detract from the elements that make his performance Goldblum performance — he can pretty much work any style, but I do appreciate Waititi’s dedication to the Goldblum giving cause. The blue chin stripe is effective enough.

When discussing his working relationship on Thor: Ragnarok with Waititi, Goldblum mentioned to Entertainment Weekly that they have very similar stylesImprov was a big part of this process, with Goldblum noting, "We just kind of had a growth spurt and a creative ecstasy together." This also spills over into their social media pages, and it is very soothing scrolling through their Instagram posts.

Our first proper introduction to Grandmaster is a psychedelic experience. As strains of “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory play, Thor is given a virtual tour of his new home — with a red lighting nod to the Wondrous Boat Ride sequence — finding out he is now the property of a terrifying being called Grandmaster.

As with Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder), Grandmaster is a rather natty dresser, switching out Wonka's purple velvet frock coat, ruffled shirt, and top hat for red, blue, and silver cosmic attire. Gold is a big part of the Grandmaster look, right down to his open toe sandals and cuffs, so he would definitely appreciate Willy Wonka’s oversized gold bow tie. Bold outfits are not the only thing they have in common, as they are both eccentrics who enjoy a manipulative game for their own entertainment.

Grandmaster is one of the ageless Elders of the Universe. He loves to play games and enjoys a good time (orgies) on his spaceship. He also isn’t against rigging his own Contest of Champions and melting those who he perceives to have done him wrong. It is hard to hate him, because it is Jeff Goldblum, but he makes Grandmaster sinister enough while reminding us that he has “prisoners with jobs” — he is opposed to the “S” word. An uprising ends in what Grandmaster declares to be a draw in the post-credits scene.

At the Thor: Ragnarok premiere Jeff Goldblum channeled his inner Grandmaster, leaning into the metallics. As has been noted, this cast is very stylish, and at the helm is a director who can work a pineapple print romp with ease. Goldblum is one to channel his character into his attire, as witnessed by his Dr. Ian Malcolm cosplay, Grandmaster has definitely left his mark, as witnessed by the gold lurex look at the recent GQ Awards.

Jeff Goldblum doesn’t share his character’s ability to never grow old, but his style game is improving with age like a fine wine. As with the Sakaar aesthetic, which features an array of shapes and colors, there is no one sartorial box to put Goldblum in. The devil is in the details, including the pinky ring — another accessory Goldblum has recently started wearing IRL.

I would give this costume 10 out of 10 Goldblums.

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