The best fashion moments from Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet,” which is somehow 22 years old
Ask any woman born in the mid to late ‘80s who their #1 tween-age celebrity crush was — and chances are many will say Leonardo DiCaprio, specifically as Jack Dawson in Titanic.
But not this girl. No, a year before Titanic came out, my 11-year-old self was already drooling over him in ’90s classic Romeo + Juliet, a film that is breathtaking even aside from Leo DiCaprio’s 21-year-old beauty. The stunning visuals, soundtrack, and juxtaposition of a classic story in a modern setting set the precedence for so many films in the late ‘90s and early 2000s that followed, including but not limited to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and even loose adaptations like O and 10 Things I Hate About You. And before there were Leo and Kate shippers, there were Leo and Claire shippers.
But the crown jewel of Baz Luhrmann’s filmography had something else going for it that, in my humble opinion, no movie has been able to recreate in quite the same way since: the fashion.
So to celebrate this amazing film’s 20th anniversary (!!!!), here are our top 10 favorite looks.
Romeo’s navy suit
The first time we meet the ill-fated co-protagonist of our story, he’s brooding around Verona Beach in a damn suit, which in itself is not that remarkable. But the way he walks in slow motion and looks at the camera ever so smolderingly while Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host” warbles in the background makes this a look I will not be forgetting anytime soon — if ever.
Memorable Quote: “Ay me, sad hours seem long.” – Romeo
Tybalt’s gas-station brawl outfit
That red Jesus-emblazoned vest. That dark blazer. That slicked-back hair. That cigarette. That badass gun (which I actually hate, but Tybalt gets what he deserves so it’s fine). Everything John Leguizamo has on or about his body is perfection, matched only by his Flamenco-style swagger.
Memorable Quote: “Peace? I hate the word. As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.” – Tybalt
Romeo’s knight costume
Ah, the knight in shining armor coming from his damsel, who is literally hanging off the balcony waiting for him. To Juliet’s credit, Romeo originally came looking for her cousin, Rosaline — but it’s her he wants to save. While staring at Juliet through a fish tank. While on ecstasy. #technicalities
Memorable Quote: “Did my heart love ’til now? Forswear its sight. For I never saw true beauty ’til this night.”
Juliet’s angel costume
The first outfit we see Juliet in (or getting ready to get into, technically) is the understated angel costume she wears to her father’s costume ball. It’s symbolic in that its whiteness conveys innocence, but I always found it sad that it also foreshadows her fate. Regardless, it’s the outfit Claire Danes’ Juliet is most associated with. #iconic
Memorable Quote: “You kiss by the book.” – Juliet
Mercutio’s drag ensemble
Eight years before Harold Perrineau made his debut as the useless Michael Dawson on LOST, he played the most outlandishly raucous version of Mercutio we will probably ever see in our lifetime. If you remember one scene, let it be Romeo’s post-pill-pop flash where he sees Mercutio dancing in drag to “Young Hearts Run Free” by Kym Mazelle. It is everything.
Memorable Quote: “If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking and you beat love down.” – Mercutio
Paris’ astronaut costume
OK so first off, this is Paul Rudd, and no one is claiming him as their boyfriend in this movie. I get that Leo was arguably hotter at the time, but this was Clueless-era Paul Rudd, guys. I hope he and Rosaline, played by Alicia Silverstone in my head, ran away together.
Anyway, this outfit is extra funny to me because it takes those audience members who are like, “I can still imagine this is in the 16th century, right?” and says, “Nope, try again.”
Memorable Quote: “A man, young lady, such a man.” – Lady Capulet
Juliet’s wedding dress
Juliet gets married in a laid-back ‘90s girl’s dream dress: a sleeveless, satin, white button-down ensemble with her hair swept into a loose bun. And the kicker: pieces of hair falling down the sides of her face. Every girl’s 1997 eighth-grade-dance dream, with chopsticks added of course.
Memorable Quote: “These violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die like fire and powder, which as they kiss, consume.” – Father Lawrence
Tybalt’s devil costume
Where there is an angel, there is a devil. Of course, John Leguizamo plays the part as any angry cousin from a rich family should — rocking glitter horns while yelling at his drunk uncle to kick Romeo out of the party. Also, shout-out to Lady Capulet for her Cleopatra costume, which I’d commend her for more highly if she wasn’t such a terrible human being.
Memorable Quote: “Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe. A villain that is hither come in spite…” – Tybalt
Juliet’s sailor outfit
You probably remember when Juliet goes to Father Lawrence to get a gun because she wants to kill herself after Romeo is banished to Mantua. Now she has to marry the extremely hot and doting, if not slightly puppy-dog-esque, Paul Rudd (a little bit of an overreaction, Juliet, but OK), and she’s looking adorable as hell through her anguish in this dELiA*s-worthy blue sailor dress complete with matching cap.
Memorable Quote: “Be not so long to speak; I long to die!” – Juliet
Romeo’s Hawaiian shirt
Romeo spends a lot of the second half of the movie in some really ripped-up clothing, which everyone is fine with — but one staple is a blue Hawaiian shirt that screams “I used to have it together, but now I’m just seeing where life takes me.” He dies in this blue Hawaiian shirt, in a church full of beautiful candles, next to his white-clad bride who will soon follow his lead by shooting herself. The contrast could be cheesy, but nay. It’s exquisite.
Memorable Quote: “I defy you, stars!” – Romeo
Happy 20th birthday, Romeo + Juliet!
This calls for an immediate re-watching…