Wearing Paradise on Your Back

Yes, we live in a hyper-digital age, but I can’t help feeling nostalgic. One of my favorite characters in film is a young Leo DiCaprio as “Romeo” in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet (if you haven’t seen in, run to iTunes – don’t walk). It’s a technicolor dream shot with a modern day Romeo speaking in iambic pentameter, sweating it out in the desert with a band of punk vigilantes. Fewer films are more synonymous with late ’90s teendom than Luhrmann’s electrifying portrayal of William Shakespeare’s tragedy. Then, of course, there was DiCaprio’s technicolor Hawaiian shirt.

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Though the film’s overall costume design is truly inspired, DiCaprio’s blue button-up is a stand out, and something that gets imprinted on your memory. As any character actor knows, what you wear (and how you wear it) can help you build a memorable character into something iconic.

Two decades later, a style that had previously been associated with dads on vacation, remains a cinematic statement for some of the coolest characters I’ve witnessed. Christian Slater in True Romance, Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona, Brad Pitt in Fight Club – what do they all have in common? They rocked Hawaiian shirts.

Luhrmann finally gave some insight into the shirt’s significance. In an interview with Opening Ceremony, he said, “The Hawaiian shirt as fashion will wax and wane in its relative cultural coolness at any given moment. But there will always be — if we’re lucky — some lingering symbolic palimpsest of Romeo as that young boy in the Hawaiian shirt, who literally ‘wore’ paradise on his back.”

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And while I may not be a Montague, and this magazine stand on Laurel Canyon Blvd is certainly not Juliet’s balcony, I’m proudly rocking this dad-approved trend. Hawaiian shirts didn’t quite catch on as your typical must-have style, but I’m always down for anything that resembles 90’s nostalgia. Who else?

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Photos by Lauren Alexandra 

Styling by Chris Galya 

Creative Direction by Heather Catania