The outrageous costumes of Starstruck

BY BETH TAYLOR

Gillian Armstrong’s effervescent rock musical comedy Starstruck and its outrageous costumes were influenced by the kitsch aesthetic of early 1980s music videos.

The cult hit is one of the inaugural Australian films digitally restored as part of NFSA Restores. Here are two of the film’s fabulous costumes, designed by Terry Ryan and Luciana Arrighi.

The film stars Jo Kennedy (above) and Ross O’Donovan as cousins Jackie and Angus. Hell-bent on being famous, Angus hatches a plan to attract media attention that involves Jackie walking across a high-wire in the city.

Jackie’s eclectic, eccentric costume includes a fur-lined blue flying cap, a pair of sequined silk wings and matching bloomers, a leotard featuring a pair of fake breasts, a yellow leather harness, glittery blue stockings and red boots.

The costume is like a peacock on LSD, and shows the lengths the duo will go to to get noticed. The fake boobs are made from thick paper and are very fragile – too delicate to be photographed on a mannequin. You can watch a clip of the high-wire scene below.

Starstruck (Gillian Armstrong, Australia, 1982). NFSA title 1447303
Film excerpt courtesy Palm Beach Pictures

Starstruck had a US release and critic Janet Maslin called the film ‘a costumer’s dream’ in her 1982 New York Times review. She writes: ‘Jackie never fails to be dressed in something appealingly ridiculous, and her mother is apt to appear in ruffly pastels of mid-60’s vintage, with little bunches of fake fruit at her neck and ears.’

Writing about the film on australianscreen online, critic Paul Byrnes says the film is ‘somewhere between a celebration of Australiana and an episode of the iconic 1970s TV rock show, Countdown.’

Jackie wears this tutu at the final performance at the Opera House. The costume is made out of a dress belonging to Jackie’s classically stylish mother Pearl (Margo Lee). Pearl giving the dress to Jackie is symbolic of her love and greater acceptance of her daughter by the end of the film.

The bodice and tutu take Jackie’s 80s style to new heights with echoes of prom queen, new romaticism and new wave. The tutu is made up of two tule skirts – each of them multicoloured, with sequins.

More costumes from Starstruck.