After the commercial and critical success of “Purple Rain,” Prince assumed the role as director and star of the 1986 film “Under the Cherry Moon.” The film tells the story of Christopher Tracy (played by Prince), a male escort in France’s Côte d’Azur who mixes with the French Riviera’s most affluent society women and swindle them for their money. The plot thickens when Tracy sets his sights on acquiring the $50 million fortune of a soon-to-be young heiress but falls in love with her instead. It would be a stretch to say that this is a “good” movie in the traditional terms of performance or script, but that isn’t what we’re here for anyway.
“Under the Cherry Moon” is sumptuously and decadently set and styled from the very beginning until the credit roll. Prince’s take on the interiors of upper class society in the south of France is nothing short of pure opulence. The look of the film is inspired by the lavish style of the 1920s and 30s infused with the energy and playful attitude of the 1980s. Prince’s outfits throughout the film challenge conceptions of gendered dressing (in fact, his wardrobe is probably more enviable to women than it is to men). True to form, he wears silhouettes and styles that transcend the categories of womenswear and menswear and he never shies away from a sequin, ruffle, or good pair of heels.
Prince’s directorial vision for the film extends this care for exquisite style beyond the realm of just his wardrobe––absolutely everyone in this film is impeccably dressed, including the multitude of extras in the party scenes. Every last luxurious detail is accounted for, down to the draw-stringed gaucho hat he impishly perches atop his head while in the bath. While there are some moments in the script that are so tacky they will make you cringe, Prince’s commitment to his aesthetic vision is as admiral as it is stunning––so much so that you might just forget how terrible the acting is.