‘Empire Records’ and a Memorable Blue Mohair Sweater
If you’re a woman of a certain age, you either owned Liv Tyler’s outfit in “Empire Records” or wished you owned it. See the film and hear from the costume designer in a May 1 Boondocks Film Society screening.

‘Empire Records’ and a Memorable Blue Mohair Sweater

I can’t tell from the IMDb how old costume designer Susan Lyall is but I will say that she’s more or less captured my life on film, so she must be about my age.

Her most-recent most-famous movie is Aaron Sorkin’s “Trial of the Chicago 7,” for Netflix, about my childhood in Chicago (oh, yeah, and the aftermath of the famous Democratic National Convention).

A second film (in which she captures the mood of my later) life is a favorite film written by David Mamet (an alum of my high school) about a small town in New England (hello), that is hilarious and feels very true to life.  Its central character is a newspaper editor.

In the middle somewhere is the film “Empire Records,” about a day in the life of a group of teens working in a record store. The dramas and tragedies of teen life are in the foreground while, in the background, they struggle to accept the sale of their beloved record store to a national chain.

Part of Lyall’s brilliance as a costume designer is that you can’t really tell that someone designed the costumes. They just look completely natural, like “well, of course. What else would they wear?” Which when you think about it is, obviously, a hard trick to pull off. 

Lyall (a Norfolk, Conn., resident) will be featured in a video interview as part of the Saturday, May 1, screening by the Boondocks Film Society, which pairs edibles/cocktails/interesting locations with cult films — in this case, “Empire Records” at Gedney Farm in Great Barrington, Mass. There will also be a pop-up store selling records. (Yes! Vinyl!).

The video interview with Lyall will be conducted by Peter Warren of Black Hole Monoplex, a co-host of the evening.

Probably the most memorable outfit from the film is the light blue mohair tummy-duster sweater that the young Liv Tyler pairs with a tartan plaid mini skirt and a pair of combat boots. I love that look. 

When this film came out in  1995, Tyler was the star of the moment (although the fabulous “Stealing Beauty” didn’t come out until 1996). Sort of stuck in the background are two other soon-to-be-famous actresses: Renee Zellweger and Robin Tunney. 

There’s a large cast, a fun script, and a soundtrack with songs by The Gin Blossoms, Edwyn Collins, The Cranberries and other alt/indie bands, that all still feel fresh and snappy.

To screen the film (and taste craft cocktails and movie-themed food — and maybe even buy some records), go to the Boondocks Film Society website at https://boondocksfilmsociety.org. Tickets are $16. The event begins at 7 p.m., the film begins at dusk (bring a sweater and a blanket).

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