Blue Velvet’s enduring look: light and shade – plus the odd gas mask

David Lynchs classic is in cinemas again to celebrate its 30th anniversary. And in case youd forgotten, it has a style all of its own

The re-release of Blue Velvet this week serves as a reminder of how stylish it was perhaps a strange notion for a film in which Dennis Hopper wearing a gas mask is its most enduring, see-it-when-you-close-your-eyes image. But, as with all the best David Lynch productions, its the tension between a best-face-forward American glamour and a dark, stay-with-you horror that makes it so compelling, even 30 years after it was first screened. The opening shot of a white picket fence, blue sky and bed of roses is followed by the camera burying under the flowerbed to find an ear crawling with ants: the two sides of American suburbia for all to see.

Dennis Hoopers Frank Booth with that blue velvet gown. Photograph: Allstar/WARNER BROS

Isabella Rossellinis blue velvet floorlength gown, red lipstick and big hair is the most iconic look of the film, of course, worthy of a costume party, or Lana Del Rey video. At home in her claustrophobic flat, shes a fantasy femme fatale, whether in bed with Kyle MacLachlans super-square Jeffrey Beaumont or abused by Dennis Hoppers terrifying Frank. Transformed to a nightclub singer, in sequinned strappy slip dress, shes another image of seduction. This dangerous, 40s-style glamour contrasts starkly with the strictly-daytime-hours, 50s wholesomeness of Beaumont.

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