Paris and fashion blend again in A New Kind of Love, a romantic comedy starring the best Hollywood couple ever, in my opinion, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. But back to the fashion for the moment. It IS seriously amazing here. Of course, the opening credits list Edith Head, Lanvin, Christian Dior, and Frank Sinatra singing, so I expected nothing less. From the full-skirted, feather couture ensems walking Parisian catwalks, to Joanne's menswear inspired blouses and trousers (and one or two pencils stuck randomly in her hair) this movie treats what women wear as consciously created works of art.
These fashions circle what I see as a typical Paul/Joanne storyline: She plays the intelligent career woman who at first ignores his charming advances, but then viewers discover she loved him all along. More specifically, Joanne plays Sam, a tomboy who "steals" high fashion designs for the mass production of more affordable, department store versions. For this reason, she travels to Paris with two co-workers, and meets columnist-in-exile (for sleeping with the boss's wife), Steve. The two begin awkwardly---Steve mistakes Sam for a man.
Inspired by the Paris fashion, a dance with Maurice Chevalier (don't ask) and embarrassment over her single-dom, Sam invents a more feminine, fashionable version of herself. Steve then spots her again, mistakes her for a famous call-girl, and interviews her several times for column inspiration. Though Sam fails to extend the act, and Steve dislikes her for that, I think no shock will come from my assurance that everything works out for them in the end.
I find this movie fun, despite its lack of an original plot. Paul and Joanne convey so much chemistry and comic timing. Also, Thelma Ritter, Eva Gabor, and George Tobias head a charming supporting cast. However, I think the movie's best point remains its use of fashion. I rarely see one that uses fashion so intentionally for both entertainment and insights. For instance, a split-screen of Sam observing a fashion show, while Steve indulges in burlesque acts, with models and dancers wearing similar ensems, seems so clever to me. As someone who already loves fashion, it made me appreciate it, and its possibilities, even more.