The electrifying fashion of Lisa Frankenstein

The electrifying fashion of Lisa Frankenstein


Disclaimer: Common Sense Media advises that “Lisa Frankenstein” is appropriate for ages 15+. 

Lisa Frankenstein is a horror comedy movie that was released on February 9, 2024 by Focus Features. The story focuses on Lisa Swallows, a lonely teenage girl, and a Victorian boy, who is brought back to life and is referred to as, “the Creature.” Since Lisa Frankenstein is set in the 80s, the bright colors contrast Lisa’s gothic fashion and the Victorian-era fashion of the Creature. The fashion in Lisa Frankenstein represents the main character’s external transformation and internal development throughout the movie.

Lisa Swallows played by Kathryn Newton, Focus Features

At the movie’s start, Lisa’s fashion is more ordinary and conventional. We find out that the character lost her mother in a home invasion and struggles to socialize with the people in the town she moved to. Her ordinary, dull-colored outfits reflect her low self-esteem and inability to express herself. However, when a Victorian boy breaks into her house she has no choice but to hide him in her closet. For the rest of the movie, he picks out her outfits and turns her more usual looks into a gothic dream of the ’80s.

Throughout the movie we see Lisa’s look transform into more gothic with black and lacey pieces taking inspiration from 80s icons such as Winona Rider and Madonna. Fangoria interviewed the costume designer for Lisa Frankenstein, Meagan McLaughlin and she described how elements from Beetlejuice and Heathers influenced some of Lisa’s darker looks in the movie. We can also immediately see the confidence bloom in Lisa with her makeup looks inspired by Madonna.

Her partner in crime, the Creature, also gets a makeover throughout the movie but, instead of just clothes, it’s also physical appearance. He becomes less and less zombie-looking and more human-looking as the movie progresses. When he first appears in Lisa’s house after regaining life, his clothes look muddy and almost decaying just like his skin. He’s dressed in 1830s fashion from when he was alive however, he soon changes into some of Lisa’s clothes to blend into their time and tries to become better friends with her. A little later, the creature finds more sophisticated clothes from a neighbor on the street and steals them from him. As he retains more body parts, the Creature slowly becomes fully human. At the movie’s end, the Creature is seen in a modern Victorian outfit, signifying how he now fits in but still takes inspiration from the 1830s.

A very admirable piece of creativity in Lisa Frankenstein is a classic, black-and-white fever dream in which Lisa and the Creature are dressed in Victorian fashion. The outfits Lisa and the Creature wear during this scene are hand-painted by costume designer Megan McLaughlin. In an interview with McLaughlin, she explained the little details that went into this dream. Lisa’s Victorian dress is based on the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer brand because, in an earlier scene, she was seen drinking that. Her hair and makeup also take inspiration from Bride of Frankenstein. The creature is there with Lisa in the dream because she went to his grave earlier that day, which explains his stone-like appearance. The creativity and attention to detail makes the dream scene so notable.

If you’re a person who loves creative, campy horror movies, Lisa Frankenstein is the movie for you.

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