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Jennifer Coolidge: The Superhero We Totally Knew We Needed

By Erin Moonyeen Haley

There are epic photo shoots and then there are epic photo shoots.

Among the greats in fashion history have been the 2003 Annie Leibovitz and Grace Coddington Alice in Wonderland extravaganza featuring Natalia Vodianova. Then of course there was the Rihanna photo shoot in 2022 when she flaunted her maternity style wearing a red lace Alaïa bodysuit in photos also by Leibovitz. And who could forget Drew Barrymore channeling the haunted imagery of Beauty and the Beast in the 2005 Vogue layout where she posed like a dancer in a jewelry box in a crimson Christian Lacroix?

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jennifer Coolidge to the star-studded roster of stars who have turned campy fantasy into fantastically fashionable storytelling in the creme-de-la-creme of magazines: W.

The photoshoot took place in Corriganville Park, on an old movie-set slash ranch nestled at the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains. It seemed like the almost sacred setting of Coolidge's ongoing second, third and fourth acts, as she continues to rise above mere mortals with a heroine presence made all the more heroic for its unexpectedness.

The shots were directed by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert and written by Alex Hawgood with photos by Lenne Chai. To call them cartoonish would be dismissive in the same way that calling Lichtenstein's panels of paintings comic strips would be dismissive. There was fun to be had in the story Coolidge & company were telling, but the fun punctuated a much longer and more complex sentence. Coolidge's persona and characters continue to dismiss stereotypes as easily as they pretend to play into them, making us all think while we giggle.

In this particular series of images, Coolidge's tongue-in-cheek persona is still on display, and still calling to mind the brassy ballsiness of Mae West, only this time with the out-of-this-world grandiosity of a John Waters character for whom hairspray is the elixir of youth and vivaciousness.

She is a villain alongside the '90s Power Rangers, and that reference alone could inspire a grad thesis to unpack meaning along pop culture lines, gender barriers and ageist obsessions.

What the article makes clear is that Coolidge is clearly having fun in a photo shoot where she mockingly attacks childhood icons and plays the evildoer in couture. Kwan and Scheinert stylized the shoot around the Japanese cinema called tokusatsu, at one point fondly recalling how it was an arts-and-crafts type of artform where the physicality of creating was not submerged beneath the gloss and polish of digital perfection. When discussing the impulse behind the shoot's storyline, Scheinert declared, "Not only do I really just want to dress up a monster - I want to get our friends together, play with cardboard props, and go out to the desert."

Luckily the world of cinematic make-believe allows for such turning-back-time moments, and who better to tag along and reign over this particular playdate than Coolidge in designer duds and glam?

Bad Binch TongTong by Terrence Zhou custom bow dress with a headpiece by MAM

As she goes from flirting and puckering up to becoming Destructo-girl, Coolidge wears Valentino Haute Couture coat and gloves. The shoes are Thom Browne.

Below, Coolidge wears a Gucci cape, Laurel DeWitt crown, MAM necklace and Nickho Rey earrings. Lobster Monster is wearing a Windowsen jacket and pants.

Images courtesy of Vogue and W


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