Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Film Costume: Catch Me If You Can (2002)

By Elleree Erdos

This costume for Frank Abagnale, designed by Mary Zophres, is characteristic of 1960s pilot uniforms. Abagnale is a conman, characterized by his skill for deception—thus, his specific looks range from pilot, to doctor, to ordinary working-class man. Zophres captures the essence of each persona that Abagnale takes on through visual externalization. Abagnale’s clothing before he begins is life of deception is more lackluster, dull, and colorless; as he gets deeper into his false world of impersonation, his costumes become more extravagant and vibrant. This pilot's costume, in particular, gives Abagnale the power of social status, (which in turn offers perks such as attracting women, as illustrated in the image). The costume illustrates the power of the uniform to deceive by exuding a strong visual impression or fa├žade of status, as well as its ability to empower the wearer by building an image that instills confidence. When Abagnale wears a uniform that reinforces a persona with its established associations, he grows increasingly self-assured in his ability to deceive. Whether or not this power is legitimate, it is, at its core, an appearance of power that creates a self-fulfilling fantasy for the wearer.

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