Going through my digital photo archive, I found a shot of me with director Whit Stillman (left) last May at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York City. Whit was there for a screening of his most recent film, “Damsels in Distress,” and a Q&A session with two of the actors in that film, Ryan Metcalf and Carrie MacLemore. This was one of the last films I saw in the city before moving to South Carolina.
After the Q&A, Whit stopped to chat with me for a while. He is one of my favorite directors, and has been known to indie filmgoers since the 90s as a chronicler of the “urban haute bourgeoisie.” Most of his main characters are from WASP families, and their manners, customs and relationships seem very charming and correct, but hopelessly old fashioned by today’s standards. Though his films lack a precise time or place, they do seem to capture the decline of mainline families (at least their grip on the culture) and an evolving and complicated set of social standards. His previous films Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco have been referred to as somewhat of a preppy trilogy.
Whit was sporting plain front charcoal gray pants with cuffs, a oxford cloth button down and tweed sport coat. I was wearing khakis, a surcingle ribbon belt with webbed cotton backing (and a Palmetto and crescent ribbon), a pink oxford cloth button down and a pair of Bass Weejuns. Draped over my arm was a navy blue cotton field jacket from L.L. Bean. I thrifted all of my clothes except the belt.
Metropolitan (1990) remains my favorite Whit Stillman film.
The Last Days of Disco (1998) features a fairly wide range of preppy clothes including an impressive Madras plaid sport coat worn by Chris Eigeman, who plays Des.