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Essential lessons in summer style from cult film icons

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From the stripper get-ups of Zola to Laura Dern’s skimpy bodycons in Wild at Heart, it turns out some actually do like it hot

Ruched, hot pink, and just clinging to the contours of her back, Laura Dern arches her body and grooves into Nicholas Cage, her bodycon in dangerous liason with the actor’s pop-collared, reptilian-skinned blazer. The scene comes around the halfway mark in David Lynch’s 1990 Wild at Heart – perhaps the Lynchiest of Lynch’s films, a buck wild road movie which follows Lula (Dern) and Sailor (Cage) as they pinball between filthy motels and desolate roadside bars, thwarting the chokeholds of the assailants sent after them. 

As the heat of the San Fernando Valley beats off the bonnet of Sailor’s getaway convertible, the film’s berserk non-sequiturs, as well as its fashion, have propelled the hapless duo into cult canon. Beloved by Instagram moodboard accounts and chin-strokey Mubi subscribers alike, it’s really the lewd work of costume designer Amy Stofksy that makes the memory of Wild at Heart resonate some thirty years later. And how could it not – with Monterrey’s preeminent boss lady immortalised in leopard-print leotards and skimpy bralettes; lacey, grandma tights and red patent heels; black sphincter-like slips and a slash of red lipstick.

It’s truly a case of both style and substance – the impact of which can be traced on the runways of today. After all, the feedback loop between fashion and film is, at times, more of a scribble than a clean circle. And the lessons we can mine from cult film icons and their crotch-grabbing, sun-chasing looks are plentiful. Particularly now, when our own lives have been vexed with unforeseen flooding and the Great British drizzle. But, then again, perhaps we’re better off seeking counsel from the Doom Generation for that one. Below, we look at the enduring summer-ish style of cult film icons. Because, some, at least, really do like it hot.