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Clarissa Explains it All

How to live in the bedroom from Clarissa Explains it All, Nickelodeon, Melissa Joan Hart“Way cool!”/ “Na, Na, Na, Na” / “All right! All right!” 

Of all the bedrooms of the eighties, the nineties and even the aughts, none invited more jealously than that of Clarissa Darling. Covered in scrunchies, littered with hubcaps, and filled with folk art influences (red patchwork quilts, hand painted chairs, mosaic tile dresses, tchotchkes), it was the perfect teenage girl’s escape. Even better? The show was credited with becoming the first Nickelodeon series to feature a female lead.

How to live in the bedroom from Clarissa Explains it All, Nickelodeon, Melissa Joan HartFilmed in front of a live, studio audience. Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. 

The room was chaotic, and yet provided Clarissa the perfect amount of individual expression and zen. Boys were never allowed in, especially her little brother Ferguson (Ferg-Face). Dun dun dun. Exceptions were made for her platonic friend Sam, who would come in through the window to the sounds of a guitar riff.

Her bedroom had backsplashes of pink and floral wallpaper, the remnants of a girl’s princess room. Yet, Clarissa decided to live in a hand-painted, graffiti splattered, mishmash of stripes, checks and chili-pepper string lighting. As much a part of the show as Clarissa’s personality, thank goodness the set-design did not succumb to typical, feminine stereotypes.

How to live in the bedroom from Clarissa Explains it All, Nickelodeon, Melissa Joan Hart

Clarissa dealt with normal adolescent issues such as first crushes, getting a driver’s license, sibling rivalry, bullying, grades at school, insecurities, shoplifting, experimenting with drinking, and confronting the issues of a inquistive teenager yearning for independence. She even played a lot of her mental scenarios out on a joystick, creating one-off DOS computer games, or in squiggly pie-charts on a “fourth-wall” whiteboard.

How to live in the bedroom from Clarissa Explains it All, Nickelodeon, Melissa Joan Hart

Clarissa was, and still is COOL. She mentions liking They Might Be Giants, Pearl Jam, and The Violent Femmes. She loves photography, sometimes wears ironic hipster glasses, digs Keith Haring and openly admits to believing in UFOs. She even had  a pet alligator named Elvis! I wish we could meet, and be friends, today.

How to live in the bedroom from Clarissa Explains it All, Nickelodeon, Melissa Joan Hart

 

1 /  Silver 14-Inch ABS Plastic Hub Caps (Set of Four)
2 / Melissa & Doug, Oversized Elephant
3 / Hand Painted Furniture Colorful Crazy Ladder Back Chair
4 / Yellow 3D Movie Linearly Polarized Glasses
5 / Patchwork Quilt, Cocoon Osprey Red
6 / Pottery Barn, Shelby Accessory Tower, inspired by an antique letterpress printer’s cabinet
7 / Rosanna Nesting Doll (5-piece set) in Green
8 / Zebra Print Tape Dispenser
9 / 1974 Illinois State License Plate
10 / Keith Haring, Whimsical Pink Musk Candle
11 / Black Paint Splatter Pillow
Backdrop / York Wallcoverings Check Wallpaper

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To “tweens” from the early nineties, Clarissa is somewhat of a mythic, fairytale creature – the sister figure many never had. And how fitting, seeing as though the show’s creator, Mitchell Kriegman, named Clarissa “Darling” from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. That was Wendy’s last name.

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Play It Again, Sam

In Play It Again, Sam a nebbishy film critic is dumped by his wife and begins to imagine his life as a confident womanizer. As a nerdy cinephile, his alter ego just so happens to be the trench-coat wearing, word-slurring tough guy played by Humphrey Bogart in many films. A ghost of Bogart gives Allan, the protagonist, advice on life, relationships, masculinity and bravery.

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

With the support of two clothes friends, who happen to be married,  Alan begins to date again, albeit neurotically. This leads to a series of disastrously funny blind dates in which Allan tries, but fails, to be as cool as Bogie. Ultimately, he realizes friendship and comfort is more important than “image” and “coolness.”

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

Filmed in 1972, and filled with antiquated references to pay-phone banks, macrame and prescription pills, Play It Again, Sam is still worth several viewings on Netflix. I would rewatch the movie for Diane Keaton’s seventies, twee wardrobe as designed by Anna Hill Johnstone. If you’re a fan of Casablanca, this film is a no-brainer as it almost copies, verbatim, certain scenes directly from the movie. The move also happens to feature the best summary of esoteric art critics, sullen museum goers, and the true meaning of Jackson Pollock. Here’s laughing at you, kid.

Set Design and Costumes from Woody Allen's Play it Again, Sam

A faux red-ribbon bow on a sweater, casablanca and framed hearts print? I’ll take it all. The various sets oscillate between LP hoarder and rattan chic to sophisticated Mies van der Rohe,  Claes Oldenburg, San-Friscisco intellectual Zebra print and shag rug interiors! [Read more]

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Do the Hustle!

As cinephiles, my husband and I  run to the movies yearly, during award season, to try to see all the nominees. This year we’ve scoped Her, Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Gravity! We’re desperately trying to find empty hours in the day to view the others before the red carpet on Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Of the aforementioned movies, no screenplay, set design or costume design felt as complete at American Hustle. A heavy nod to Michael Wilkinson , costume designer and period piece extraordinaire! Thanks to him, no one was screaming, “Disco Sucks!” because we all wanted to wear glam-rock leotards, wire-rimmed glasses, three piece suits, wrap dresses, polyester trousers, rayon tube tops, knit vests, hot pants, tinted aviators and ultra wide lapels.

Inspired by Costume Design and Set Design of American Hustle featuring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams!

one // two // three // four // five // six 

seven // eight // nine // ten // eleven

Amy Adams’ completely embodied a seventies vixen in her plunging sequined Halston halter dresses to her Diane von Furstenberg wraps. Even the slightly pudgy Christian Bale was still dressed to the nines, and highly dateable, in his exaggerated mixed print leisure suits, ruffled shirts and burgundy velour blazers.

Not to be outdone, Judy Becker, the Production and Set Designer, created stellar work. “Everybody thinks of the ‘70s in New York as very dirty and graffiti-ridden, but I knew that our movie wasn’t that ‘70s,” said Becker. Including metallic wallpaper, a nod to brutalism and a gratuitous use of yellow, explore her world on set here.

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