With a post-screening discussion between Caroline Evans and Alexander Fury, moderated by Rosemary Wallin.
This masterpiece of 1960s art cinema sets its mediation on time, memory and longing within the most fashionable of locations – the Marienbad spa and its endless corridors and manicured gardens (the film was in fact shot in and around the Bavarian palaces of Nymphenburg, Schleissheim and Amalienburg). Perhaps no film has so profoundly challenged the viewer with a truly ambiguous approach to time, where truth mingles with lie, and chronology blurs with fantasy. Delphine Seyrig’s costumes, designed by (the uncredited) Coco Chanel, create an image of dreamy elegance and sophistication, and, ultimately, of ungraspable desire. From pared-down black and metallic dresses to delicate chiffons, tulle and lace, to an extraordinary use of white and black plumes, Seyrig floats through the film, presenting a fashion show counterpoint to its cerebral narrative. While Resnais wanted to evoke the allure of 1920s cinema stars, his film ironically defined a new fashionable look for the 60s, allowing past and present to come together.
France, Italy 1961. Dir. Alain Resnais. With Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff. Costumes Bernard Evein, Seyrig’s costumes by Coco Chanel.
Caroline Evans is Professor of Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins. She is the author of numerous publications on fashion, including, most recently, The Mechanical Smile: Modernism and the First Fashion Shows in France and America, 1900-1929 (2013).
Alexander Fury is a fashion journalist, author and critic. He is chief fashion correspondent of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.