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The secrets of Olivia Newton-John's iconic outfit in "Grease"

On the occasion of the actress' death we remember the look of her most famous character

The secrets of Olivia Newton-John's iconic outfit in Grease On the occasion of the actress' death we remember the look of her most famous character

Olivia Newton-John died on Monday, August 8, after a more than 30-year battle with breast cancer. The Australian-born actress had a long and troubled career, which began as a singer as a teenager and was never interrupted despite illness and many flops. Down moments that never overshadowed Olivia's successes, such as Grease, the film that put her in the history of cinema. At first, even she did not want the role of Sandy Olsson. Sure, she had the vocal qualities and the experience, but she was also already 29 years old, five more than co-star John Travolta, and was to play a shy high school girl who becomes a dark lady for love. All it took was an audition with the Saturday Night Fever actor to realize that chemistry had nothing to do with age and to change her mind. And thankfully so, because that role would not have been the same without Olivia. Can you imagine anyone else being able to make Travolta fall to her knees at her feet, thanks to a single change of look?

No more romantic full skirts, demure pastel-colored sweaters. No more high tails and bows in her hair, and no more aqua face. To win over her Danny Zuko and prove to him that she is a true Pink Ladies and not just a naive little girl, a forgettable summer fling, Sandy undergoes a real metamorphosis. She becomes Bad Sandy: perfecto in black leather, Bardot top, super tight spandex pants, red mules, like red lipstick, fluffy blond curls and cigarette between her lips. Bold manner and rock'n roll attitude, the little girl next door gives way to the young woman who, even visually, aligns herself with her lover, Danny leader of the rebel Thunderbirds.

The total black outfit was costume designer Albert Wolsky's idea, a fashion gimmick to tell the story of Sandy's transformation from a naive schoolgirl dressed in pastel prom ball gowns version, the good girl à la Sandra Dee typical of 1950s Hollywood cinema, to a transgressive bad girl. A curiosity? Those super skinny, high-waisted pants were a vintage piece, so old that it was a one-of-a-kind piece that had to be treated with the utmost care despite being partly damaged. The zipper was broken and could not be replaced, so every morning the pants were literally sewn on Olivia Newton John and then unzipped at the end of the shoot. A little torture that did not affect the actress' iconic performance and allowed her to sport a look that perfectly represents not only the emancipation of her character, but is also a perfect synthesis of the 1970s, when the film was made, and the 1950s, the period in which Grease is set. It is also thanks to that very tight spandex top-pants combo worn by Bad Sandy to the tune of You Are The One (That I Want) that the film starring John Travolta is still a beloved hit, now so much a part of the collective imagination that it has inspired designers from Moschino to Jean Paul Gaultier many times over. The Grease finale outfit is reminiscent of many garments seen on the runway in recent years such as Mugler's daring catsuits or the femme fatale ones presented by Saint Laurent a few seasons ago. And today, as so long ago for Sandy, she has not lost her spirit of rebellion and empowerment.