Do the Loose-Fitting Clothes of Monica Vitti’s Character in L’Eclisse Represent a Loose Moral Compass?

It’s clear when watching Monica Vitti on screen that she’s one of those beauties who you have to acclimate yourself to, the type who becomes more beautiful the longer you look at her. In Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1962 film, L’Eclisse, Vitti embodies the insecurities of her character, Vittoria, primarily through her wardrobe: a ceaseless end of loose-fitting clothes.

Barely there clothing constructions
Barely there clothing constructions
After falling out of love with her fiancé, Riccardo (Francisco Rabal), Vittoria finds herself in a strange–though sedate–tailspin. With no one to talk to about the matter (her mother is too preoccupied with her stock market profits to listen), Vittoria takes advantage of being invited over by her neighbor, Marta (Mirella Ricciardi), who has returned from her home in Kenya. As they talk about life in Africa versus Italy, it becomes clear that the problems of the Italians are largely self-inflicted. The following day, Vittoria flies to Verona with her friend, Anita (Rosanna Rory), where she enjoys the change of pace and scenery.
No curves here
No curves here
The brief sense of tranquility Vittoria has in Verona is quickly negated when she returns to Rome to find her mother has lost ten million lire in the stock market. Her stock broker, Piero (Alain Delon), assures Vittoria that the market will bounce back, but that in the meantime, his clients must pay their debts. The attraction Piero has toward Vittoria is obvious, but she comes across as closed off and unwilling to engage (in part due to her wardrobe).
A wardrobe that's closed off to the whistles of men
A wardrobe that’s closed off to the whistles of men
The more Piero pursues her, however, the more gradually she becomes acclimated to the idea of falling in love again–in spite of the fact that she doesn’t genuinely believe in its possibility. When Piero oversteps her emotional boundaries, she states, “Two people shouldn’t know each other too well if they want to fall in love.” Indeed, their so-called love appears to form more out of mutual loneliness than any true affection for one another. Vittoria’s ease with falling in and out of love is a mirror of a time when women were transitioning into a new era of independence, uncertain of what following conventional social norms really gained them anymore. At the same time, the isolation of not following them proved equally as hellacious.
Piero searches VIttoria's body for any sign of some contours
Piero searches Vittoria’s body for any sign of some contours
The final scenes of L’Eclisse showcase a series of empty streets and other assorted daily drudgeries, amounting to Antonioni’s statement on the desolation of living in an increasingly state-of-the-art environment, regardless of whether you have someone to love or not. But perhaps if Vittoria’s clothes weren’t so loose, neither would her stance on love be either.