Welcome to New York in the ’80s, where money is power in a city that never sleeps. This is the dynamic setting of Wall Street, a movie that features skilled acting by Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, as well as a plot involving a romance with an interior decorator, wonderfully played by Daryl Hannah. Directed by Oliver Stone in 1987, the film explores issues such as excess and decadence. And interior design! Yes, this is going to be good. What follows is Mirror80’s most stylish ’80s Movie Style post to date…
One of my favorite Wall Street elements is the fact that every character gets a carefully crafted, dramatic close-up. Here are a few to get us started…
Even the scenery gets its moment to shine. In fact, the interiors of this film are basically another character–a more likable character than any of the others, in fact. But we’ll talk more about the film’s amazing design later. Let’s get some context for the story first, shall we?!
Wall Street follows the corruption of idealistic Bud Fox, a New York stockbrocker who will stop at nothing to reach success. The film pits him against a powerful, threatening, unscrupulous corporate raider…
…who is about to be eaten by his own cell phone. Seriously, that’s a really big phone. Ladies and Gentlemen, Gordon Gekko:
Things get interesting when Bud strikes a deal with Gordon after providing him with insider information. Gordon takes Bud under his gilded wing, introducing him to the world of upscale dining, beach mansion parties, limousine rides…
…and limo accessories like built-in computers and adorable cocktail glasses pre-stuffed with watermelon-motif paper napkins. No really, those napkins are going to be the inspiration for my next summer party.
Things get even more interesting when Bud socializes with Gordon’s party guests one evening. As you can see from the photo below, they include Gordon’s wife (played by Sean Young) and Gordon’s mistress (played by Daryl Hannah). Yes, that’s two replicants from Blade Runner at one beach house party. Let’s hope Michael Douglas was a fan of Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic.
No plastic pineapple lamps and jars of seashells at this beach house. Instead, high-end sculptural wall art reigns:
There’s an Etruscan vase on the coffee table:
The painting below is by Jim Dine, and there’s even a cute robot that performs butler duties. Yay!
It doesn’t take long for Bud to fall for Daryl Hannah’s character (Darien, who as mentioned, is a decorator), and the two begin a romance based on their shared desire to have meaningless lives of acquisition. So when she decorates his brand new high-rise apartment, you know true magic is going to happen…
What follows is basically a primer on how to decorate an ’80s penthouse using the most over-the-top, excessive techniques at your disposal, all the while showcasing designer artwork and channeling an upscale feel. And it begins with faux brick sheeting:
…covered in fragmented dry wall that is promptly painted blue…
…and finished off with silver and gold leafing!
It’s only the best for Bud, and these details prove it:
The living room is fabulous, but it’s the kitchen that really got my attention. The red paper towel holder and red knobs, coupled with black textured cabinetry and the latest in foodie gadgets makes me want to pour a glass of wine and eat pasta for days.
There’s even a sushi maker, and I love that Charlie Sheen takes the time to craft his own five-star buffet of yuppie nibbles while holding down his old job and simultaneously working for the city’s most powerful Wall Street player.
Hey, there’s always time to enjoy a meal with the one you love. Especially if the plates feature a bold zigzag design that borders on tribal!
Here’s the decorating montage from the film:
Let’s get a good look at the apartment! The sculpture on the wall above Charlie Sheen is a piece by Keith Haring. It’s clear that this penthouse is supposed to be comically excessive while still reflecting some of the era’s top trends. The marble-painted door frame and gold leafing on the crown molding are…a bit much. But who cares when everything comes together to create such a fun opulent vibe?!
You’re even encouraged to laugh at the impracticality of the place–there’s a funny bit where Gordon Gekko accidentally puts his plate through the coffee table (see below and look for the food and napkin on the floor). Yep, there’s no glass top on that sculptural piece.
But that doesn’t stop Gekko from making a killer pitch to Bluestar Airlines just minutes later. I can’t take my eyes off that wall behind Gordon. That sconce! That crazy wall treatment! I’m loving the layered look:
But let’s peel away some layers now, shall we…
Art and Power
Throughout the film, artwork plays a key role, underscoring the characters’ power. Gordon is an avid collector, and some of the most memorable scenes feature impressive pieces from his stash, like the green and black Joan Miro painting that resides in his office.
For an amazing post on the different pieces in the film, visit Anthony White Artwork. The details and photos are fabulous.
We can’t forget this bold work that hangs in Bud’s apartment, which appears to be a 1985 piece called The Collectors by Lucas Samaras:
The monetary value of the artwork is at times discussed in Wall Street, and high-end art is considered a symbol of status, a symbol that Bud acquires on his rise to the top. But can he choose money over his values indefinitely? Will he be able to look at himself in the mirror? Will it all come crashing down, and if it does, can he at least keep the pasta maker and those zigzag-border dinner plates?!
You’ll have to watch the film to see what happens. Lots of high-stakes drama, insider trading and moral dilemmas. But as you can see, this post was focused on the design. And that’s the way I like it! Thanks for reading. XOXO, Kate