Inspired Fashion on Film - Klute

Posted by Meghan
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The 1971 film Klute directed by Alan Pakula is a broodingly dark and suspenseful thriller about a prostitute, a missing businessman, and the detective who has been hired to find him. John Klute, played by Donald Sutherland, a small town detective, is sent on a case to Manhattan to investigate the whereabouts of Pennsylvania business executive John Gruneman. Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), aspiring actress and call girl by profession, is suspected to have been involved with Gruneman and Klute seeks her out. The pair navigate New York’s red-light underworld of pimps and prostitutes looking for answers as to Gruneman’s whereabouts––their findings lead them to a trail of dead prostitutes, of which Bree might be next. Klute is an outstanding film in and of itself––the intricate character studies, the cinematography, and the carefully crafted suspense of the dialogue are praiseworthy. However, being a person interested in fashion I am always looking to a film’s styling, and Jone Fonda’s character Bree delivers in spades.

Bree is a very no-nonsense type of woman––she is direct, tenacious, and enjoys the control afforded to her as a prostitute (though her lack of fulfillment and disquiet over her life is revealed through several sessions with her therapist). In this sense, her style is reflective of her personality. Bree’s wardrobe is quite minimal, especially by the standards of the day (the interzone between Woodstock and disco). She favored thick knitted turtlenecks, midi skirts, suede jackets, and trench coats, but was definitely not one to shy away from a brassy accessory, ruffled collars, or a sequin dress. Bree rarely looked like a call girl in the stereotypical sense, but her wardrobe choices reflect an awareness of herself and her body. She maximizes this depending on the role she must fulfill out in the world. When she is at a casting call as an actress, she dresses smart in a monochrome grey look, featuring a turtleneck, patterned midi skirt, and grey leather boots. When out on a call with a regular client, she sports a feather boa and painted-on sequin dress. When visiting her therapist, Bree favors a suede jacket with a light turtleneck underneath. Given the dark and ambient tone of the film, Bree’s wardrobe plays significantly to our understanding of her complicated psyche as a character.

The film’s stylist, Ann Roth, undoubtably did a brilliant job selecting and styling the looks for Bree. In an interview with Elle in 2012, Fonda revealed that many of the pieces she wore in the film were in fact her own (Roth had the famous trench coat recreated for Fonda for the fortieth anniversary of the film’s release). Perhaps the greatest takeaway from the film on a more superficial level is Fonda’s legendary shag haircut, which no doubt inspired leagues of women to rush to their stylist with a magazine clipping of Jane in hand (or a picture of her famous mug shot taken during Klute’s postproduction from when she was arrested after speaking at a protest rally against the Vietnam war). Clothing and hair aside, Jane Fonda’s Oscar winning performance as Bree Daniels, the hooker with a heart of gold, should not be missed.


Fonda's character at a casting call with model Veronica Hamel who had an uncredited role in the film.



Editorial inspired by Klute - Freja Beha Erichson in "An Untold Crime," Photos by Terry Richardson, Vogue Nippon, August 2010.


Editorial inspired by Klute - Freja Beha Erichson in "An Untold Crime," Photos by Terry Richardson, Vogue Nippon, August 2010.



Jane Fonda's mug shot after her arrest at the Cleveland airport, 1970.

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