A seven minute interview with Harold Ramis by movie site Making Of has just gone online. Here Ramis talks candidly about Ghostbusters 3, why he doesn’t want another Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, that none of the original cast need the work, and how committed he is to making the film (if it officially goes ahead) just as great as it can be.
This provides the perfect opportunity then for a tenaciously related look at the Ghostbusters’ iconic work uniform – the jumpsuit.
Despite best efforts of couture designers, the jumpsuit has never really made the ‘jump’ from high fashion to high street. Nonetheless in its ninety odd years of trying an interesting potted history has formed, one that encapsulates the jumpsuit as both functional and fashion wear.
The jumpsuit arrived in the fashion world around 1919 thanks to Italian Futurist designers. Called the ‘Tuta’, it was intended as comfortable, practical wear for men and boys. A rejection of heavy fabrics and starch dressing, this all-in-one belted suit was a kind of radical forerunner to men ‘dressing soft’ in the 1920s.
Although the Futurist expression was short lived, the jumpsuit resurfaced again in wartime 1930s-40s. This time for women and purely as service wear. At this point referred to as the siren or utility suit, it featured hip-pockets, no trouser cuffs, and either a full or half-belt. If restrictions allowed a full-length zipper was added at the front. Elsa Schiaparelli, who went into exile in New York for the duration of World War 2, made a wide-legged designer version with large hip and breast pockets. As with World War I, a variation on the jumpsuit (a ‘boiler suit’) was worn by ordinary working women in munitions factories and ambulance drivers.
When a more feminine aesthetic was ushered in after WW2, the jumpsuit generally went into hiding until the space age vibe of the 1960s. Gilbert Feruch bravely yet unsuccessfully attempted to revive the garment in jersey for men.
For women a tighter, brighter (or khaki) version continued into the 1970s largely championed by TV show Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981). Up and coming Japanese designers of the era experimented with the concept by adding bright block prints and graphics for a more playful look. In the late 1980s, Jean Paul Gaultier made a double breasted, wrapped belt jumpsuit for men. However like most of Gaultier’s creations during that decade, it was influential yet struggled to filter into the mainstream.
During Kill Bill (2003), Uma Thurman wore a bright yellow two-piece copy of Bruce Lee’s stretchy poly jumpsuit from Game of Death (1978). The two-piece adaption was apparently Kill Bill director Quentin Tarrantino’s idea as he realised just how unflattering a thin, tight jumpsuit could be on a woman bending every which way in front of a camera. Yet it did spawn a rush of Juicy Couture style tracksuits on the high street, good examples of which remain difficult to get hold of.
Are we likely to see a return of the jumpsuit for Ghostbusters 3? Of course. It might not be the most becoming silhouette for men tumbling after wayward spooks (and, let’s face it, their retirement age) but the look is now part of Ghostbusters iconography whether they like it or not. Here’s betting it does not make the poster image this time though.
© 2009 – 2012, Christopher Laverty.