Style Icons: Kathryn Merteuil

Stuck in a fashion rut? The Rebelicious Style Icons series features an eclectic mix of alternative inspiration.

STYLE ICON: Kathryn Merteuil

This week’s Style Icon continues with the Buffy connection – though it’s Buffy from an alternate universe. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s turn in Cruel Intentions was a surprise to many movie-goers in 1999 – not only did she trade her Goldilocks for a gothier look, she also ditched her heroine credentials.


A re-telling of Christopher Hampton’s play, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, (which was based on the original novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos), Cruel Intentions uses the modern-day backdrop of New York, re-imagining the characters as Manhattan’s richest teenagers. Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar) loosely reprises the role of the Marquise de Merteuil (most notably played by Glenn Close in the 1988 period adaptation). She’s bitter, devious, amoral – and she finds amusement in destroying the lives of those around her through gossip and sexual manipulation.


Her style is late-nineties enough to retain some hallmarks from the era, but nothing about it is especially dated, and so it’s easy to replicate. Kathryn offers a polished, virtuous facade to the people who expect it, but she doesn’t really bother to try and disguise her true colours – rather, she amps up her very presence with clothing that’s dark and dramatic. Groomed hairstyles are offset by deep red manicures; blazers and heels exude a sense of power; while sheer fabrics, corsets and camisoles reveal the seductress within.

Words: Sam Handley

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