Film Costume: American Psycho (2000)

by Anne Grant

Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), the protagonist of Mary Harron’s 2000 film adaptation of American Psycho, charmed both women and men with his lifestyle, good looks and sleek wardrobe. Bateman obsesses over his appearance, as made evident in his voice-overs throughout the film. In the iconic “raincoat scene,” Bateman slaughters his business acquaintance, Paul Allen, with an axe:

Patrick Bateman: Paul Allen has mistaken me for this dickhead Marcus Halberstram. It seems logical because Marcus also works at P&P and in fact does the same exact thing I do and he also has a penchant for Valentino suits and Oliver Peoples glasses. Marcus and I even go to the same barber, although I have a slightly better haircut.

Resolute to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and scrupulous with his presentation, Bateman embodies the consumerist 1980s Wall Street man. Though his actions are monstrous, he manages to look good—even when soaked in Allen’s blood. His wardrobe—the Valentino suit—is a classic symbol of male authority. The designer label adds further value to the symbol. Bateman, though psychotic, also seems to act independent of any higher authority. His apparel, then, reflect his self-perceived untouchable status.