• Jessica Moore

Saved!: Satirising 00s Fashion

Saved! (2004) is a criminally underrated translation of high school experience, weaving together friendship and faith into its fabric. Although it is surprisingly unknown, at least in relation to the fame and popularity of some of its lead actors (Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, Patrick Fugit), it withholds its status as a cult classic fourteen years on for its wit and subversive navigation of classically adolescent themes within a universe of hyperbolic Christian stereotypes.


In a similar thread to Donnie Darko (2001), Malone’s more famous role, the high school setting is in itself a site of satire and humour beyond bestowing structural integrity for the plot. In Saved!, the teachers are eccentric, the sex education classes are conservative (‘good Christians don’t get jiggy with it until they’re married’), and the assemblies are demonstratively ‘hyper-Christian’ in every caricature imaginable.


In exploring topics such as teen pregnancy, virginity, abortion, faith and homosexuality, Saved! attempts to navigate and unearth the connections between these topics, namely, through a holistic, stereotypically-radical-Christian lens, visualised most effectively through the clothes worn by characters. Other than being entirely and incredibly 00s - all the way down to velour two-piece tracksuits and low rise jeans - the costuming reinforces the era and style of the film's exploration: satirising the already tragicomic experience of teenagehood, in an attempt to weigh up what it means to stay true to one’s faith as an adolescent.


Angel wings are paired with velour tracksuits, worn by characters coded ‘most pious’, ie, the ones who don’t fall pregnant. An Emmanuel ‘eye for an eye’ t-shirt is worn by Mary as she practices at a shooting range. An oversized Christmas jumper hides Mary’s baby bump at the mall. And what is most quintessentially 00s, the gold Christian Jewel pin donned by a select few girls. Not only does the pin fashionably remind us of the preexisting notion of exclusivity in faith, confirming its sense of hierarchy, but it is also something you’d probably see repurposed in 2018, reading instead: "Baby" or, appropriately, "Angel".


Saved!’s satirisation of 00s fashion becomes comparable to films such as Clueless (1995) which seem to summatively embody 90s culture for the LA upper-middle-class. In Saved! we see fashion captured at the moment it was taken, 2004, suffused with a sartorial, political commentary.


Through the language of costume design, we are afforded another script, another dialogue altogether. When Mandy Moore’s character shouts ‘I am filled with Christ’s love’, wearing angel wings whilst launching a bible at Mary’s head, the performativity of the costuming, and, in turn, the ideology itself, couldn't be clearer. Further, this critical mobility of costuming positions the film’s religious criticism to a place of humour, rendering it less offensive with its stereotypes and more witty, contemporary and fashionably genius.

still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)


still from Saved! (2004)