The Costumes: Page 2
6. Evening Wear/Shareware
Sometimes even goblins like to paint the town. In this incredible sequence, we see the King in his royal finery, as a
nobleman and pure anti-hero on his best behavior. From the first glimpse at right, we know we're in for something
special: All the visual luxury that Labyrinth can deliver in under four minutes. This is Jareth's Fantasy, or Sarah's (or
both), and some juries are still out on whether it even happens for real. Here at The Labyrinth Pages, we say YES
emphatically, because it ends with Sarah
falling out of the crystal ballroom and landing in the junkyard. She was transported somewhere and did get to
dance with Jareth, at least in some version of this magical place he designed.
This is the Bad Boy's "soft side," the gentleman that girls imagine can coexist (somehow) with a personality like
Jareth's. To be fair, Jareth has been good to Sarah up to this point, accomodating her every whim in the
Labyrinth, but it hasn't won
her over. In these scenes, he goes for the throat by fulfilling even more: Her night at the Ball with Prince Charming.
He's every inch the part in this Renaissance affair, the ruffled shirt and a decadent overcoat sprinkled with blue gems and shiny, beaded debris.
It's hard to tell exactly what it is or how they did it, but the design spells *Goblin Elegance* precisely. It's formal
but not conservative, beautiful and stylish but still a bit macabre and otherworldly.
The sharp-dressed King tries to romance Sarah and
is almost successful.
The hair even has matching blue highlights, and the grin here is not Jareth, but Bowie.
Fans will recognize this slightly lopsided smile, when
something gets his attention just right.
7. Stair-Wear: Medieval Conflict-Wear
Whether you're jousting, falconing, or jogging up and down staircases in an anti-gravitational showdown with
your nemesis and concerned that
stray accessories may get caught on something, form-fitting attire is
the way to go. Even Jareth ditches his signature long cloaks and tailed jackets when it's time to face the music with Sarah.
He's all business in this flattering cut that clings to him perfectly. In black, it shows everything that's relevant to his
motivation, but nothing overtly sexual.
He's at odds with Sarah and must hide his infatuation, at least long enough to be the strong adversary that will secure
her in his
The cool blues and grays are gone. He's in dark red sleeves and leather mail wrap, inset with bone designs. Even the
Goblin Symbol is inverted and fixed to him; it's clearly game time.
This is another one of our favorite costumes, for character passion as much as for how sleek and charismatic Bowie is.
8. Jareth-Wear and Tear
This is one of the more brilliant designs that show still more complexity in Jareth. It's the end of the contest and
he knows he's lost, so he tries a desperate bid to win Sarah's affection. Like any guy who's run out of ideas for ambiguous gestures that are
supposed to impress his girl but that never work, he's finally willing to DTR. Even though it means
being honest and risking his pride in rejection.
He's making a last effort to earn her love, so he takes the gentler approach in this
luxurious Owl Cloak, soft and flowing white, a far cry from the familiar, jagged black of his royal ego. This is the
Real Jareth, stripped of illusions. He's even wearing a Reverse Goblin Symbol, one golden with sincerity.
The design here is said to be ghost-like, representing his loss of power. The cape is trimmed with bones, and
there's a heavenly aura about him that suggests morality. Because it turns out he's not the villain. Actually it's
Sarah who's been playing him all along, and now he's headed for heartbreak.
This costume says it all, and Jareth is never more sympathetic. He looks defeated and sleepless - more Moonstruck Prince than Goblin King.
Some interesting Semi-Jareths are found in the Special Features. They don't count as wardrobe
changes; they are Off-Duty Jareths that have been captured between worlds, where the Bowie/Jareth distinction
The Left is Bowie. But he has Jareth's eyes. He interviews as Bowie, but this is during
filming. So he may be in the twilight between Self and Character, having to switch them at
will. This is a neat mental state for actors, one that can't exactly be seen, but that has been captured here
in some way.
The Right... Could go either way. It's Jareth (?) in an outtake. Or is it Bowie having a
practice? He's taken off the jacket. That shouldn't mean anything, but in the extreme fantasy context of Labyrinth, it
creates a weird visual. Jareth's wardrobe changes many times, but only between cuts and locations - never
within the sequence. We're not sure who he is here, but he sure looks fab.
Jareth's Junk: Froud or Freud?
No Dressing Room Review would be complete without discussion of The Infamous Pants and their sometimes-noticeable
contents. Some fans think that
Jareth's Junk should have had its own storyline or even its own, separate movie, but Bowie deserves serious kudos
for Wardrobe Courage here. He was willing to be exploited in this way for the awkward entertainment of young girls, with
no forseeable notion of the long-term gain: A new generation of fans among the adult women
that they would eventually become.
Some fans find Jareth's Junk inappropriate or OTT, but we disagree on two counts:
1. It's totally relevant (maybe vital) to the character design.
Every aspect of Jareth's design agrees with Sarah's adolescent thoughts. There's supposed
to be a preoccupation with sex, because Sarah is at the right age for this. Jareth's pants are also
ideal for her interest in dance and theater; he's meant to have a bit of graceful ballet in him.
But...Could the Sex Element have been achieved just as effectively by some other,
We're not sure how, because Bowie has few visual traits that convey male sexuality
He's never been a rugged, muscular guy; his features are lean and elegant, and his voice is total refinement.
And these traits make him the Perfect Jareth: He's the intelligent, soft-spoken type who would
be exactly right for Sarah's introduction to relationships at this age. It's a tricky balance to keep these
qualities *and* give Jareth a sexual presence.
2. David Bowie's Junk is great, but neither shocking nor new.
For physical exposure, the most famous, real celebrity wang probably is Bowie's. He's one of the
only performers who lived the rock star life long enough to bang thousands of groupies, followed by
a crossover into film by a vehicle that offered full frontal nudity in 1976.
By the mid-80s, most of the universe
had potentially already seen his junk directly. Labyrinth's trouser-outline stuff is pretty
conservative in this context, and even that wasn't new. (Some of his Ziggy-era costumes were similarly revealing.)
Love and Speculation
Back in the 80s, we weren't sure how to handle Jareth and his stuff, but 25 years have lifted "Labyrinth" to its proper
pedestal as a Cult Classic, Fan Favorite, and sleeper Chick Flick. We're finally mature enough to appreciate
what Henson was going for and how Brian Froud went about it, junk and all. We love Bowie and
savor every bit of Jareth, head to toe and everything... uh... In between.
For the ladies, these pants are a guilty pleasure, one more dreamy facet of The Goblin Who Would Be King.
But there are lingering questions about Bowie's wang, even among the dedicated fans. If you've fantasized and wondered
enough about Jareth's teasing package,
The Man Who Fell to Earth should put the issue... To bed. *Ahem.*
(Go to The Place and Do The Thing.)
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