Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) is arguably his greatest film. Since I am an Anderson super fan, it seemed only right that my first blog post would feature Margot Tenenbaum. I first saw The Royal Tenenbaums when I was about fifteen and I have seen it many times since. As an auteur director, Anderson’s productions have their own unique retro tone and style. The films aesthetic is difficult to pin down to any specific era. Much like Margot’s style, which was inspired partially by iconic 70s singer Nico who will likely be familiar to any fans of The Velvet Underground.
TRT‘s sullen rock and roll soundtrack features songs by The Clash, Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith. The soundtrack became one of the film’s defining components. As a teenager, I fell in love with these songs. Simultaneously I became infatuated with Margot Helen Tenenbaum. The adopted daughter of Royal Tenenbaum, Margot is a moody, effortlessly cool, chain smoking playwright. Her exterior; a slick, neat bob hairdo, expensive fur coat, designer bag and preppy tennis dresses point towards a reserved glamour. Yet this is far from the case, Margot is a rebellious and complicated woman. Her colourful history is relayed to us to the tune of ‘Judy is a Punk’ by the Ramones. We watch Margot’s life unfold from the loss of her ring finger in a wood chopping accident. Smoking her first cigarette aged twelve. Running away from school aged fourteen and marrying a blunt toking Rastafarian aged nineteen. By twenty-one, Margot is living with her lesbian lover in Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Margot’s character has secured its cult status over the years. From her simplistic nude negligée to the iconic mink coat or striped Lacoste polo dress, Margot’s wardrobe remains a source of style inspiration for designers and stylists everywhere. Even Vogue have featured articles on Margot. Costume designer Karen Patch had the mink coat custom made by Fendi. Patch also had Lacoste send fabrics and approve the design of the infamous tennis dresses. Anderson wanted to use the Lacoste logo, so Patch created the dresses from a handpicked horizontally striped fabric since Lacoste didn’t make them in patterned fabrics at the time.
Anderson is known for focusing on the importance of costume as a means of conveying the personalities of his often complex characters. Aside from making smoking look bad-ass and rocking thick black kohl eyeliner, Margot’s character is an inspiration in the ways in which she oozes coolness and confidence. She is more than just a promiscuous literary genius and her clothes speak volumes about the complexity of her character.