Daisy Fresh

March 6, 2020 / Lauren Bacher

Doll-like girls with creaking limbs sit eye-to-eye with audiences as they move stiffly and contemplate the social order they are operating in. “I am a doll,” Marie I exclaims in Czech, as she picks up her flower crown and plops it on her head. The word used for doll in this scene is panna, which is literally translated to virgin or doll. The interchangeability of the word is purposeful as their virgin-pure status keeps them in order as women. Although they may be acting as dolls, their time for play is just beginning. The girls deliberately fall from grace as they dance around a tree of life, plentiful with fruit for the taking, which they eat. The adventures they begin take hold of their doll-like trope as they indulge in the spoiled world they’ve been hidden from. The Czech new wave film, “Daisies,” by Věra Chytilová, is a psychedelic feminist revolt filled with destruction as the two main characters, Marie I and Marie II, run amuck around town.

“Although they may be acting as dolls, their time for play is just beginning.”

These daisy fresh girls are not as pure as they appear with their baby-doll dresses and sweet, little giggles. Flirting with older men and leading them on, they wave their virginity in the face of society and quickly yank it away before it’s placed in its hands. Their feminine fashion is displayed as innocent but enacts a hypersexualization by the men who fall for them. Baby-doll dresses, short and lacey pajamas and a flower crown they share all act as symbols to others of their childlike innocence. Purity has always been attractive and sought after by men, and it’s transcended into fashion targeted towards women. From wearing a flower crown to show you are suitable for marriage to wearing a white dress on your wedding day to mark your purity, a woman has always been forced to show she is desirable through her virginity. What better way to display your purity than by reverting to girlish fashion trends of lace, ruffles and flowers? These nostalgic pieces call on the innocence of youth that many find freedom in. It’s lust for life — Lolita fantasies that twist these trends and make them promiscuous. “Daisies flips this concept on its head by calling out the eroticism of the baby-doll aesthetic and the expectations that are placed on women. Marie I and II do so through their teasing appearance, seemingly dainty and pure. However, things are not as they seem as they tend to cause disruption and chaos to the norms they’ve been taught. Crushing taboos by flaunting these baby-doll fashion trends, they reclaim what has been over-sexualized.

“Through what they choose to wear, or not to wear, they take back their bodies and act as they please, tricking men and taking up space.”

Challenging the hypersexualization that begins to creep in, the girls in “Daisies subvert the domination and make life a game. In a controlled society, they are meant to keep their messes behind closed doors, but they do this with the blinds wide open. They constantly make messes in their room by cutting up magazines, eating in bed, setting fires for fun and inviting strange men into their home. Instead of cleaning up their mess, they march into public. They laugh loudly as they go on dates with older men, get drunk at dinner shows and overeat in an era where food was scarce. They are full of life and intend to indulge in what the upper class gets to have. Through what they choose to wear, or not to wear, they take back their bodies and act as they please, tricking men and taking up space. The Maries are never seen physically giving up their virginity, but that shouldn’t be the point. It doesn’t matter what others think, they can still wear what they want and cause a ruckus no matter their status. The film is meant to be a threat to show that strong women can cause a riot even in the smallest of dresses, and this threat was taken seriously as Czechoslovkia found the film banned in a 1968 Soviet clamp-down. The reclamation of the lace and ruffles then perfectly matches their wild child behavior, that can inspire anyone to this day.

“These daisy-fresh girls dress to please themselves and cause a riot for the hell of it.”

All of their antics and adventures are choppy as the celluloid is tinted with different effects. The film is experimental, yet some still ask, “Wwhat is the plot?” Věra Chytilová’s warning at the end of “Daisies suggests for viewers to not overthink the plot. These daisy fresh girls dress to please themselves and cause a riot for the hell of it. The man has scolded them and said “no,” but their aspirations and rebellious attitudes have said “yes.” That’s all that matters. This film is monumental in saying:, white is not reserved for the pure, and the flower crown now represents their freedom. Their virginity is not a status or a fashion statement, but a taboo to be played with, and this concept is still relevant today. Chytilová types out at the end; “This film is dedicated to those who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce,” just as this article is dedicated to the rabble-rousers who can wear whatever they want and act as they please despite what society deems. ■

By: Lauren Bacher

Layout: Maya Shaddock

Photographer: Anna Droddy

Stylist: Shannon Homan

HMUA: Jane Lee & Tiffany Tong

Models: Carlie Roberson & Sophia Santos

View the full spread as it appeared in Issue No. 13 here.
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