Molly Ringwald is back in fashion
By MONICA CORCORAN, Los Angeles Times
July 31, 2008
It's been 23 years, and Molly Ringwald still has a regret about her "Breakfast Club" days. Her off-screen romance with Anthony Michael Hall? Hardly. The fact that she originally wanted to play Ally Sheedy's quirky role? Over it. She bites her lower lip ruefully and shakes her rusty auburn curls.
"Now, I wish that I'd kept those boots," she said. "I loved those boots."
Who didn't? The lace-up Ralph Lauren equestrian boots that grazed her freckled knees in the film became every teen girl's tantrum-inducing must-have in 1985. As did her other unique looks: the fedoras and chunky bangles in "Sixteen Candles" or the lacy flapper dresses and crimson pout of "Pretty in Pink."
Ringwald's style goosed fashion circles and high school social cliques alike. She was an antidote to '80s "power dressing" and empowered the eccentric social underdog.
Bypassing the mall for a musty Salvation Army became de rigueur and certified vintage as cool.
Even today's style mavericks -- think Agyness Deyn and Chloe Sevigny -- nod to Ringwald's on-screen style as inspiration. Entertainment Weekly recently named the Picasso-esque prom dress she wore in "Pretty in Pink" as one of the 50 pop culture moments that "rocked fashion." Last year, New York magazine announced, "Ellen Page is the new Molly Ringwald."
"I never thought of myself as a style icon," said Ringwald, who still peppers her dialogue with sighs and thoughtful "ums." "I wore all that vintage because my parents kept me on an allowance. ... My style was based on necessity."
Now -- like it or not -- the shocking neons and tank dresses and graphic prints of the go-go decade are back. And so is Ringwald, 40, who is back in front of the cameras to co-star as a mom on "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," a new ABC Family show that airs on Tuesdays.
Seventeen years after she high-tailed it to Paris to live, she has moved back to Los Angeles with her husband, Panio Gianopoulos, an author and journalist, and their 4-year-old daughter, Mathilda.
From screen queen to Paris
In 1986, Ringwald -- then 18 with Cheetos-hued hair -- beamed on the cover of Time magazine. A reporter trailed her to document her whirlwind retail whims. She tried on $49 suede granny boots, which probably caused seismic style waves. Back then, a crop of young girls copied her signature look -- think Madonna meets Diane Keaton -- and called themselves Ringlets.
Her quiet exodus from Los Angeles came five years later. Although she turned down the lead roles in box-office bonanzas ("Ghost" and "Pretty Woman"), she said she wasn't thrilled with the material that came her way and wanted to goof off.
"I never felt that I could make mistakes and be ridiculous here," she said. "I went to Paris to do that."
There, she learned French, got married to her first husband, Valery Lameignere, and starred in a few not-so-memorable American films and dabbled in French cinema. She later divorced and moved in 2002 to Manhattan, where she headlined in stage productions of "Modern Orthodox," "Cabaret" and "Sweet Charity."
Shopping with Ringwald
On a recent afternoon, Ringwald decided to browse the shops in Venice, Calif. She fit right in, looking casual in jeans, a floral Nolita de Nimes blouse and Sigerson Morrison wedges. Her style icons are unusual picks: avant-garde artist Cindy Sherman, who directed her in 1997's "Office Killer," and Charlotte Rampling.
"My own personal style is pretty eclectic," she said, name-checking Marni, Mayle, Pucci and edgier New Yorkers including Todd Thomas and Rachel Comey as favorite designers. "I used to wear so much vintage. Now, I am more streamlined with my look."
Don't expect to spot her in lace gloves or fuchsia frocks on her new TV show, either.
"Her look has some retro flair, but we stayed away from pink on purpose," costume designer Sherry Thompson said. "She's current and wears feminine looks in a colorful palette of blues and greens."
To saunter down the sidewalk alongside Ringwald is a trip. Some passersby squint -- "Is that really her?" -- whereas others smile dreamily, awash in nostalgia. Paramount Vantage recently capitalized on this Molly Ringwald effect by marketing its new documentary "American Teen" with a movie poster that mimics "The Breakfast Club" poster, right down to those Ralph Lauren boots.
And although teen angst is timeless, Ringwald doesn't think a modern-day meringue of a movie such as "Sixteen Candles" would resonate today.
"The fashion and insecurities aren't different, but I think that AIDS and Columbine really changed the teen experience," she said. "I can't say that I have seen the latest teen movies. I don't really have any interest."
She paused to admire a ruffled, fuchsia Shulami minidress at a boutique. She still favors pink, a color that makes most red heads cower.
"Makeup artists always said I shouldn't wear red lipstick because it would clash with my hair," she said. "So I wore bright red lipstick all the time."
She lingered for a moment to eye a plaid pinafore dress in the window of a children's store.
"I put all my vintage, beaded dresses from the '80s in a storage space for my daughter," she said gleefully. "Of course, she will probably only want to wear jeans. But she's going to have these amazing clothes -- if she wants them."
But, alas, not those boots.
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