This is the moment in Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s classic 1977 romantic comedy, when the world (and Alvy Singer) fell in love with Diane Keaton’s distinctive and quirky style. When the 30-year-old actress had turned up on the set, the film’s costume lady complained to Allen that she looked “crazy” and couldn’t possibly wear her own gear onscreen (as often happened in Woody movies). But Allen replied: “Leave her. She’s a genius. Let’s just leave her alone and let her wear what she wants.”
The Annie Hall style of cross-dressing caught on in a big way, and was still influencing students when I started university in 1989. In fact, it was a shared love of oversized, Annie-style hats and gents’ coats that first drew my oldest uni pal and me to each other. And as for the straw bag which Annie carried her tennis racquet in – well, those were enjoying a revival in the late 1980s amongst Diane Keaton devotees.
Annie Hall wasn’t Keaton’s first film with writer-director-star Woody Allen; they first appeared together in Play It Again, Sam (1972), from which this clip – featuring Keaton in an unusually streamlined, 1920s-inspired ensemble – is taken.
The madcap comedy Sleeper (1973) starred Keaton as Luna, once more the object of Woody’s affection – not least because of her favourite household appliance, the Orgasmatron.. Here’s Luna looking seductive in her 1930s-style evening wear..
Keaton is often photographed in black or white or monochrome and even when she’s been in period films – Love and Death (1975) or Reds (1981, pictured below) – she seems to reflect something of her own style and that of her times.
I’m not particularly fond of Keaton’s penchant for wearing ties and belting men’s jackets – as she does in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1994) – or for wearing all-white trouser suits (First Wives Club, Hanging Up etc), but I admire her unique, immediately recognisable style which has evolved from romantic and eccentric to streamlined and, er, eccentric.. That said, she looks every inch the chic WASP in Something’s Gotta Give (2003), in which she wears a series of outfits that are sort of toned-down versions of what she would probably wear in real life. The colours are 100% Keaton.