Screencap via Trailer, © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film
Reiner’s remarkable Baroque-styled or
Barocco shirt is from luxury Italian fashion brand Versace and is prominently featured while Reiner philosophizes in a kind of artificial language with his business partner, the Counselor.
Reiner gives the Counselor somewhat of a lecture about the overwhelming beauty of women and the creepy fascination of an ideal death by a wire gadget that chops people’s heads off within seconds, invented by the drug cartel.
While Reiner’s colorful silk shirt with the dozens of little butterfly prints fits to his showy role, this shirt – like Reiner’s black Versace shirt – probably has a far deeper meaning for the scene and his character.
To understand the full story behind the shirt, it’s important to know, that the author of The Counselor, Cormac McCarthy, is labeled as the
Shakespeare of the West and therefore, the whole movie plot is probably homage to the European art period Mannerism in the 16th century.
To comprehend this argument, it’s necessary to know the basic concept of the Mannerism epoch.
Actually, the Mannerism describes a historical era and art movement mainly in Italy and Europe between the end of the Renaissance (1520) and the beginning of the Baroque (1575).
This art period in particular was characterized by the effort to exaggerate the ideal in all parts of life, like in literature, art, music, interior design etc.
Furthermore, many people in the epoch of the Mannerism started to talk and behave in a particularly artificial manner and dress sophisticatedly with lots of colors and ornaments.
The aim of the ‘Baroque people’ was to live above the ideal of human nature and be godlike.
But what does it have to do with the movie and Reiner’s character?
In fact, Ridley Scott is not only a legendary film director, but he also studied art and painting. And for The Counselor (2013), he created a film set that goes beyond perfection.
The set design is in fact stylish and exquisite in all details, from the glass house with its expensive interior design to the over-the-top costumes and jewelry of Malkina and Reiner.
Furthermore, every protagonist – from the diamond dealer to the contract killers – in the plot is an expert in his very own business field.
Moreover, all the characters in the story act presumptuous – godlike, where failure is not possible – while their prophetic and philosophical dialogues sound artificial and literally like they came straight from a William Shakespeare drama.
Therefore, the movie is actually full of Baroque and Manneristic references, not only in the dialogues but also in the costumes.
But now back to Reiner’s shirt, because his bright colored and Baroque-inspired print shirt is a great symbol for this Manneristic era and style.
DVD Screencap, © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film
The showy Versace shirt illustrates with it’s perfect details and fine golden ornaments the assumptions above and thereby supports Reiner’s mysterious and Shakespearian speech.
Another interesting detail is, that Rainer’s shirt model is vintage and one of the last fashion items designed in 1995 by Gianni Versace. It serves therefore as a great example of Versace’s golden age of the bloated fashion and lifestyle that made the brand famous.
Because in the 1990s, Versace’s Baroque patterned designs became especially popular among young and decadent Russian millionaires who had a desire for everything in silk and gold with aristocratic flair.
Reiner’s role also seems to be one of these Europeans who became too rich too fast and still thinks that people with money should be dressed like a Baroque king.
Actually, Reiner’s whole style becomes even more grotesque in contrast to the decent style of the Counselor, who dresses in beige, white and black linen.
Another interesting detail are the little butterflies on Reiner‘s shirt which are another great metaphor for his character. Why?
Picture Source via Filmofilia,© 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film
Because the butterflies illustrate that he is just an innocuous and colorful man who lives in a big glass house, symbolically his bird cage, where he feels comfortable and secure, because he is literally just a well groomed and cute, flying insect.
Finally, the dozens of butterflies are also a subtle symbol for his chatterbox-like and ‘flighty’ monologue in front of the Counselor that ranges from topics about beauty and bestiality, dazzling and confusing the lawyer.
Sure, all this might be a total over interpretation, because it’s not documented that costume designer, Janty Yates, really had all these associations in mind when choosing this shirt for Reiner's role.
Nevertheless, it sounds like a nice bit of trivia and comprehensible interpretation.
Click here to re-watch the scene where Reiner wears his gold ornamented butterfly Versace dress and explains the evil death tool of the cartel to the Counselor.
Javier Bardem Lives the Real Manneristic Versace Style in The Counselor
The symbolic meaning and real pop-cultural story behind Javier Bardem’s showy butterfly shirt. This is actually the same colorful gold ornamented print shirt that Reiner (Javier Bardem) wears in his house when he meets …