Accidental Style Icon: The Old Woman at the Airport in "Moonstruck"

Wearing an all-black outfit, the woman who puts a curse on Cher at the airport knows a thing or two about how to bust a great fit.

by Sophie Kemp
Aug 14 2020, 9:30am

Early on in Moonstruck, Loretta Castorini (aka Cher) kisses her complete sinker of a fiancé goodbye in the airport and watches him get on a plane to Sicily. This is the second time Loretta is to be wed. Her first husband died early on in their marriage, and Loretta is convinced this is because they had their nuptials at a courthouse downtown instead of having a big blowout wedding. In other words, she is afraid of curses and wants to do everything right this time, like marrying someone boring. Love—amore, like the moon in the sky like a big pizza pie—has other plans for her (falling in love with her fiancé’s brother, Ronny Cammareri aka Nicolas Cage) but she doesn’t know about any of that yet.

As the plane takes off Loretta sees a charming little old woman in an all-black outfit. The old woman looks at Loretta and asks “Is there someone on that plane?” Loretta says “Yes, my fiancé!” The old woman looks directly at Loretta and explains that she has put a curse on that plane because her sister is on it, and her sister stole her man. She lets Loretta know that because of this curse the plane is going to explode, and then starts cackling in Italian. The plane does not end up exploding, and Cher’s fiancé successfully makes it to Sicily to see his dying mother who ends up miraculously getting her health back. The old woman does not appear again in the movie, and the scene is a compact minute long sequence of foreshadowing. It doesn’t really matter, she’s a literary device designed to help foreshadow the film’s coming events, and also serve as a fashion icon.

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The old woman in Moonstruck is violent, a jealous motherfucker, and knows how to rock a black dress. We don’t really get a great full look at what she’s wearing, so you have to use your imagination a little bit. What we can see is her adorable, black, netted headscarf, and her black dress (cloak?), which looks like totally cozy, early winter wear. The whole vibe of her look is metalhead Strega Nona, meaning she wears all black, looks like a pit boss, but is also a wise old witch. Personally, this is an aesthetic I covet dearly. I will never be a vicious Italian-American grandmother (I’m not Italian and not yet a grandmother) but that doesn’t mean that I (or you) can’t try to make it work sartorially. The old woman in Moonstruck is a masterclass in dressing like a witch. What’s key to her fit is how roomy the black dress-slash-coat is; you want to be able to wear something warm yet breathable because you most likely will be cooking pasta and using your hands a lot while talking to your grandchildren. The netted headscarf is also a crucial part of conveying this image. It’s the kind of thing you absolutely need to wear to keep your tight crown of pearly white curls intact while doing a hex and screaming about how mad you are at your sister for something she did a half-century ago.

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This early look, which is arguably the best in the film, sets the stage for plenty of other iconic looks that happen throughout the rest of Moonstruck. Namely, when Cher walks home from a night of rapturous passion with _National Treasure_’s own St. Nick, and wears a pair of red heels and a similarly cozy black coat. Cage also has some pretty iconic looks in the film, like when he wears a white wife beater and a matching white apron when he first meets Cher and screams at her. At the end of the day, it’s really about what the old woman at the airport is wearing. She foreshadows that this will be a movie about curses, a movie about love, and a movie about fashion. Cursing everyone in a New York City airport while giving us major goth energy? Now that’s what I call amore!

Nicolas Cage