I wish I could tell you that I don’t have a clue what film Nicola Peltz has been relentlessly promoting this summer, but the publicity juggernaut pushing Michael Bay’s latest over-long, over-wrought, big, shiny, explosion-fest to the top of every teenage boy’s must-see list has been more than effective in getting its message across. Nicola Peltz is starring in Trasformers 4 (4!), which has only been out ten days and has already made close to $600 million, despite dreadful reviews and a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
I have a theory that the reason these films keep making so much money is not that troops of teenage boys take over our cinemas every summer, but that girls are just a bit more complacent about what they’ll see in the cinema. If asked to go to a “chick flick”, a certain kind of guy might be inclined to dig his heels in and refuse to have his masculinity threatened in that way, whereas, if asked to go to a mindless action movie, a girl might be more likely to just shrug and say “ok”. They may not want to see it, but they don’t not want to see it so badly that they’ll refuse point blank.
And I’m sure at these films you do see the groups of teenage boys they are squarely aimed at, but, while you’re unlikely to see groups of women treating Transformers 4 like it’s Bridesmaids 2, women do go to them too, and that’s crucial to the success of these summer blockbusters. I have a second theory that that’s part of the reason why the (often lone) female star of the male-driven, summer action movie will take centre stage in the promotion of the film, even if you can count her lines of dialogue on both hands and she serves little purpose in the film other than blatant eye candy and/or confused participant whose questions or complaints allow for some plot exposition and/or helpless fool who needs to be rescued.
Of course I’m generalising, and action movies can be fun, but when the 2 min 31 second Transformers 4 trailer features Nicola Peltz’s Tessa getting kidnapped, screaming for her dad, screaming for help and kissing her boyfriend, I’m inclined to think on this occasion I’m not too far off the mark. Oh, and did I mention she’s wearing Daisy Dukes?
Tessa is costumed in the style of many a Bay girl before her, with very short jean shorts and very tight tank tops and silly high-heeled boots and pouty pink lip gloss… The fetishistic costuming and leering camera work would be one thing if any of these characters had any sort of agency, but they never do. Here Tessa is simply fought over by the two men in her life, overprotective daddy and hot stud racer boyfriend. Oh, I guess she gets scared sometimes, too. And has to be rescued.
Which brings me back to my second theory, which is that, while directors will push these lone women into the shadows of their mulitple male costars onscreen, when it comes to promoting the movie they’ll be front and centre in a designer dress. Because dresses make front pages, fashion sells, and a simple style crush might be the deciding factor when the guy standing at the counter in the multiplex is trying to convince his girlfriend to voluntarily tranquilise her brain for 166 minutes.
So, regardless of how she fared on screen in Transformers, it has to be said… Nicola Peltz killed it on the press tour. Much like Lupita before her, a few amazing dresses have earned her some major name recognition this summer, and while Michael Bay may not have tested her acting chops in the movie, she has passed the fashion test with flying colours.
There were a couple of misses. I hated the Prada dress she wore to the first premiere in Hong Kong. The silhouette and the colour are great on her, and I like the idea of the inverted V cut out in the front, but yet again (get your shit together Prada!), this is let down by a terrible fit and a cheap looking finish.
In the close ups you can see that those glittery bits are actually strips of clustered beading and sequins, but for me they’re too thin to have the desired impact, looking, from a distance, like nothing so much as a bit of Christmas tinsel. Nicole Kidman wore a shockingly bad Prada with the same trim a few weeks ago, and it read exactly the same way: cheap.
Her Hong Kong party look wasn’t much better, and I’m normally down with anything that has a touch of 80’s Madonna.
The Alexander Wang leather crop top is nice, but too heavy for the Dolce & Gabanna lace skirt, which isn’t working for me, though honestly I think it’s the huge satin granny pants that are mostly to blame.
She fared better with the two Stella McCartney looks she wore there, and the white dress in particular I like, because the wavy seam is a nice twist on the sheer extension to a short dress that has become so prevalent.
I have to say though, even though they’re very different dresses, given that they both feature the wavy motif I would have considered these too similar to be worn on the same tour, let alone on two consecutive days.
From HK it was on to Shanghai, and a lot of people went nuts for the Giambattista Valli dress she wore there, but for me this was another miss. In general her style is so pared back and streamlined that, in relation to the other looks that she wore with incredible panache, I just felt that this dress was wearing her.
There’s so much going on here, from the petal embellishments on the bodice to that very full peplum, the last thing this dress needed was a contrasting lace skirt, let alone one with a full train.
From there, the only way was up, and I loved the Saint Laurent leather shorts and tux jacket she wore at the press call in Beijing.
She has a relationship with Saint Laurent going back at least a year, and it’s a label that looks spectacular on her. This outfit is young, but so cool and chic. This may be the first time I’ve wished I could pull off leather shorts.
For New York she pulled out the big guns, and she learned from the Giamba misstep that keeping it simple but stunning works best for her. With that face, why would you let fussy hair or too much pouf distract?
This dazzling electric blue, fully beaded column dress by Balenciaga really shines when you see the huge, structural bow on the back. It looks crazy good on her, and even though it must weigh more than she does, she wears it with more ease than the airy Giamba above.
For the NY after party she returned to the sheer lace of Dolce & Gabanna, but this time it looked so much better than the Hong Kong version.
It’s the absence of granny pants, and the matte, knee length underskirt in their place that make the difference, but I do love the length of the lace overlay and the shape of the top. Proportionally it just works better.
We got another floor sweeper in Berlin, where she returned to Stella McCartney. She had attended a Stella presentation in March, which was the first indication that the designer would probably feature in the Transformers tour, and after this (which is quite reminiscent of the dress Rihanna wore to the Met Gala):
she teamed a Stella bodysuit with another D&G lace skirt at the press conference the next day:
The Stella aesthetic can vary wildly from season to season, so I think it’s fortuitous that the sporty, 80s inspired cuts of this Stella collection suit her look so well, and by mixing them up with with lace and beaded numbers in strong, simple shapes, along with great tailored pieces and some truly covetable LBDs, it keeps things simple, structured and stunning. I may have no intention of seeing her film, but I will be keeping my eye on this rising fashion star.
Below, L-R: In Saint Laurent at CinemaCon, Dion Lee for Jimmy Kimmel Live, and in a Dior tuxedo dress at Dior.
Footnote: If you missed the link above, I’d encourage any Dublin readers to check out the current season of films at the IFI, “Beyond the Bechdel Test.” There’s some really great films in there, along with talks on women in movies and the Irish premiere of Obvious Child. I’m including the trailer for that instead of the trailer for Transformers because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone gouging their eyes out.