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Optics: ‘Blade Runner,’ Serving Sexy Replicant Looks for Fall

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Optics

‘Blade Runner,’ Serving Sexy Replicant Looks for Fall

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Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner.”CreditWarner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection

“Blade Runner 2049″ may be the most well-funded sequel ever made to a movie that both tanked at the box office and got creamed by critics.

“What’s the name of that woman in The New Yorker?” said Ridley Scott, who directed the original and produced the sequel. “Pauline Kael? Oh my God! She slaughtered me. It got personal. I’d never even met her.”

Filmed for around $ 28 million and released in mid-1982, “Blade Runner” did not crack the list of top 25 best-earning movies of the year. Its two Oscar nominations came in technical categories: production design and visual effects.

And although Ms. Kael praised those things in her review, she said the “pulpy suspense plot” was not engrossing, that the voice-overs were “ludicrous” and that Mr. Scott was no good at dialogue.

Today, the film is considered a masterpiece, one of the rare science fiction films that justifies its ontological aspirations.

Film professors put it on their syllabuses. Fashion designers turn to it as frequently as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” And music video directors ape it shot for shot.

“There’s never been a better looking post-apocalyptic film,” said Dominic Sena, who directed Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video, part of which was shot in downtown Los Angeles in the Bradbury Building, where much of the original “Blade Runner” takes place.

I Am the Business

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Left, Sean Young as Rachael. Right, Alexander McQueen’s fall/winter 1998 collection for Givenchy.CreditFrom left: Warner Bros. Pictures; Firstview

“Blade Runner” presented a dystopian metropolis in which robots are used as slave labor and sport fantastic punk couture outfits. They also have consciousness, so they seek freedom, while a class of officers try to “retire” them. Permanently.

The female lead is Rachael, played by Sean Young. She makes her entrance with her hair curled into what Michael Kaplan, one of the film’s costume designers, described as a modern take on a pompadour.

Her armor-like, shoulder-padded suit, seemingly intended to convey complicated messages about whether she is human, called to mind Thierry Mugler and Grace Jones, who were setting the tone for 1980s extremism in fashion.

Mr. Scott still isn’t sure who among them got to that look first. “Style often comes together mysteriously and at once,” he said. “It’s like graduate school, where you do your Ph.D, get your essay in early — and find out that six others are doing the same thing.”

Numerous designers turned to Rachael for inspiration.

Take Alexander McQueen’s fall 1998 couture collection for Givenchy, which Mr. Kaplan reviewed on a recent morning in the West Village on his iPhone. “Look at that,” he said. “That’s the power of movies.”

“Blade Runner” did well for Mr. Kaplan too.

Before he got the job working for Mr. Scott, his biggest credit was as a costume designer for “Can’t Stop the Music,” a 1980 film that was loosely about the Village People and starred the future Caitlyn Jenner.

Not a lot of people saw that.

After “Blade Runner,” he became one of the most in-demand costume designers in Hollywood, with credits including many of the most fashion-forward films, notably “Flashdance,” “Fight Club” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

He said that when it comes to which movie he is most praised for, there is no competition: “Blade Runner,” he said.

That Detecting Look

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Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford.CreditWarner Bros. Pictures

Rachael’s love interest, Rick Deckard, is a hunter of these replicants. His clothes serve as a counterpoint to what the rest of the film’s characters wear, and take their inspiration from the past: ’40s and ’50s noirs.

“His shirts and ties and suits were remarkably discreet,” Mr. Scott said. “I didn’t want diagonal slits. We were always talking about Philip Marlowe and ‘The Long Goodbye.’”

They also borrowed from Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe in “The Big Sleep.” Initially, Mr. Kaplan (and his co-designer Charles Knode) planned for Mr. Ford to wear a Bogart-like top hat. Mr. Ford arrived on set having just wrapped “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and he told them no way was he putting anything on his head again.

About a week after that, Mr. Ford called Mr. Scott to tell him he’d also taken the liberty of getting himself a crew cut.

“I thought, oh, no,” said Mr. Scott, using more colorful phrasing than that. “Crew cuts do not suit everyone well. Then I saw it, and I did not love it.”

Sexbot, Isn’t It Nice

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Top, Hazel O’Connor in “Breaking Glass,” circa 1980. Above, Daryl Hannah in “Blade Runner.”CreditTop: Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection; Bottom: Warner Bros. Pictures

Daryl Hannah’s frizzy blond hair and pancake makeup were somewhat inspired by a movie called “Breaking Glass,” starring Hazel O’Connor as a punk songstress. Mr. Scott, a feminist too impatient for political correctness, added a twist: He wanted to make Ms. Hannah look more like a prostitute.

“I just wanted Daryl to represent the male dream of what we would call a pleasure model, because that’s how she was designed and bred,” said Mr. Scott, who also directed “Thelma & Louise” and “Alien.” “I know. How chauvinistic. My God. We can’t say that today, but that’s how she was described at the time!”

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John Galliano made references to the film’s makeup in his fall 2006 couture collection for Dior.CreditFirstivew

She epitomized “a sexuality,” he said, “a gritty grungy sexuality.” John Galliano made references to itin his fall 2006 couture collection for Dior.

A Coat That Won’t Tear in Rain

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Left, Prada, fall 2002. Right, Zhora, played by Joanna Cassidy.CreditFrom left: Firstview; Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection

The first replicant Deckard retires is a nightclub performer, played by Joanna Cassidy. She attempts escape in a clear plastic raincoat. It was made especially for the film and subsequently became a meme in fashion.

For her fall, 2002 collection, Miuccia Prada showed plastic raincoats. “I went, ‘uh huh.’ O.K. then,” Mr. Scott said.

This summer, Raf Simons showed something similar, with a set that looked nearly identical to the downtown Los Angeles of “Blade Runner.” Being imitated, Mr. Scott said, is both “irritating and a nice thing.”

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Top, downtown Los Angeles as depicted in “Blade Runner.” Above, Raf Simons’s spring/summer 2018 men’s wear show.CreditTop: Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection; Bottom: Casey Kelbaugh for The New York Times

The Bradbury Building

The final showdown in “Blade Runner” between the detective and a replicant took place in the Bradbury Building, a five-story, turn-of-the-century brick office building in downtown Los Angeles known for its giant atrium, tiled marble floors and wrought iron staircases.

Before “Blade Runner,” it had been used in noirish films such as “D.O.A.” (1950), “Marlowe” (1969) and “Chinatown” (1974).

After “Blade Runner,” it became the site of a spate of music videos and films, one of the most memorable being Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.”

Mr. Sena, who directed “Rhythm Nation,” first saw “Blade Runner” the week it was released (“probably at the Chinese theater”) and came back for at least two or three viewings during the next month. Later, he and the director David Fincher were partners in a production company.

According to Mr. Sena, practically every director on their roster used “Blade Runner” as a reference point.

“We all stole like crazy from it,” he said. “For ‘Rhythm Nation,’ I wanted to cover my tracks a little bit so I shot in black and white. Because there had to be some distinction between the two. But I was there because Ridley had stumbled across it.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Sena’s big plan for this weekend was a dark movie theater and a sequel.

“That’s where I’ll be,” he said. “From the trailer, the palette and the scope seems even bigger. ‘Blade Runner’ had a handful of big scenes. The new one seems to have taken that and said, ‘You were able to cobble together a block, here’s a mile.’”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: Serving Sexy Replicant Looks for Fall. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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