Devil In A White Dress: Why Femme Fatales All Look Alike


From ‘Basic Instinct’ to ‘The Last Seduction,’ erotic thrillers have one thing in common

One of the oldest, most clichéd fashion rules in the book tells us not to wear white after Labor Day, summer's unofficial end. With that in mind, it's a good time to revisit some of the finest white ensembles ever seen onscreen. Earlier this season, a tweet I posted about women wearing white in erotic thrillers of the 1980s and '90s became surprisingly popular, and my crowded notifications convinced me that these women have truly created a stylish legacy.

Erotic thrillers would be nothing without their femmes fatales, and the femmes would be significantly less fatale without their gloriously subversive wardrobes. White, of course, is the color of virginal purity, of wedding dresses and cherubs. When the women of erotic thrillers wear white, the color (or lack thereof) becomes a blank slate ripe for being covered over with aberrant sexuality and mystery. The subversion of purity is nothing new—any art history scholar will tell you as much—but as they do all things, femmes fatales truly take it to the next level.

The most famous outfit from an erotic thriller, and maybe one of the most iconic in modern cinema, is Sharon Stone's white dress in Basic Instinct (1992). The dress—short, body-conscious, and turtle-necked—both conceals and infamously reveals. A turtleneck may not be traditionally thought of as sexy, but this one lends polish. It's a look of absolute control.

The costume designer for Basic Instinct, Ellen Mirojnick, also did the costumes for Fatal Attraction (1987). Mirojnick is truly the unsung auteur of the erotic thriller. Glenn Close also wears a white dress, but in a narrative device emblematic of the differences between the two films, she doesn't take control and exude sexuality wearing it. She gets murdered in it. The dress is off-the-shoulder (the opposite of a turtleneck) and pleated at the waist—a classically '80s silhouette. The film makes it very clear that a white dress will do nothing to protect her, and she begins to resemble a horror movie bride.

In The Last Seduction (1994), Linda Fiorentino, scheming and delightfully rotten to the core, pretty much only wears black-and-white ensembles. Her outfits are smartly tailored and businesslike, in a subtly old-fashioned way. A woman in a sharp white collared button-down and coordinated blazer is clearly not one to be messed with.

An all-white ensemble is perfect for seducing an unwitting man in sweltering heat. In Body Heat (1981), everyone's always talking about how hot it is, and Kathleen Turner saunters into the night in her crisp white outfit, ready to get what she wants.

There are other examples of white-clad women in erotic thrillers, but no exploration of these modern-day femmes fatales would be complete without a nod to their forebears in the films noirs of the 1940s and '50s.

In Double Indemnity (1944), in the role that launched a thousand scheming women, Barbara Stanwyck wears an elegant white jumpsuit, designed by Hollywood legend Edith Head, with a perfectly '40s trouser cut and a nipped waist. Wearing this kind of chic lounge look while up to no good is the ultimate power move, and, of course, an all-white outfit looks particularly fabulous shot on black-and-white film.

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), like Double Indemnity based on a novel by James M. Cain and featuring a similar plot, offers its first glimpse of Lana Turner in a white turban, a white crop top and high-waist shorts, and white shoes. Each element is perfectly meant to go together, and while her smoldering expression is serious, her outfit feels somewhat leisurely.

The over-the-top Technicolor but spiritually noir drama Leave Her to Heaven (1945) features Gene Tierney in a number of white ensembles, most memorably a draped, robe-like coat she wears while committing an unforgivable act. Tierney cuts an imposing figure, and the dramatic shape of the jacket wouldn't be out of place in an erotic thriller some 40 years later.

These women in white are not the figures of purity convention might have us expect. White can be a hard color to wear, and all of these women do it with panache—the last thing they're going to do is worry about stains. White may sometimes seem boring or safe, but these performances show that when worn with the right sense of menace it can be anything but. So beyond this Labor Day, don't follow conventional wisdom: Take a note from these unforgiving dames and try a white outfit. If the femmes fatales of erotic thrillers and film noirs are known for anything, it's breaking the rules.

Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video)


This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.


Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.


Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.