Once Upon A Time
Once Upon A Time
The Girl from Oscar-winning indie sensation Once is an enduring icon of low-key style. By Eviana Hartman
She doesn’t have a name. She doesn’t have much money. But what the heroine of the cult classic 2006 Irish indie film Once does have—beyond her obvious musical talent—is a serious sense of style. We meet the plucky Czech immigrant pianist, played by musician Markéta Irglová, on a chilly night in Dublin, and immediately it’s clear: there’s something special about this girl. She is strong, yet sweet, just like her outfit: tweed jacket, below-the-knee skirt, cozy scarf, and warm tights, all in rich, plummy fall colors. And then there are those thick wool socks, for an extra touch of sassy ruggedness.
The Girl, as she’s credited, may be a single mother who cleans houses and sells roses on the street, but she carries herself with grace. And though she reveals at one point in the film that her clothes come from a thrift store called Bogart Menswear (slogan: “Wear It Again, Sam”), she elevates them to something altogether more chic. Her layered look is at once scholarly and romantic, masculine and feminine. It evokes a Trinity College art-history coed of yore, or Love Story by way of Bloomsbury. And it proves nothing if not practical, whether The Girl is hiking along the misty bluffs of Killiney Bay or playing marathon jam sessions in a basement studio. The Girl pulls off wearing two classic cardigans on top of each other and sporting multiple shades of red, plus she rocks the slip-dress-over-white-tee combo like no one in cinema since Cher Horowitz.
So it’s no wonder that the also-nameless male protagonist, a down-on-his-luck street musician played by Irish rocker Glen Hansard, falls for her—or that Irglová and Hansard, who’d been her musical mentor in real life since she was 13, started dating as soon as the film wrapped. (They famously accepted the Oscar for Best Original Song as a couple.) Alas, their off-screen love didn’t endure, and Irglová is now married to someone else—spoiler alert!–just as The Girl and The Guy in the film were not to be. But the real-life duo still play together in a band called The Swell Season, and Once is now a Tony-winning Broadway musical. It all goes to show that great music—just like a wardrobe of classic, cozy fall layers—lasts forever.