Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion in Film

There is a symbiotic relationship between films and fashion. A look in a film can be a source of inspiration, a cultural reference, or a trigger to an evolutionary fashion trend. It can be reflective to a fashion trend of a certain era (like portrayed in 1966 Blow Up). Likewise, fashion can become an influence in film, creating a strong image that becomes a signature look of an era or of a film instead. It can inspire a new set of trend to an epoch. Like Joan Crawford signature dress in 1932 Letty Lynton (which started the whirlwind of trend and copies of her dress became so popular to the masses), the mid 90s look with tartan adorned, monochromatic preppy look adapted from Alicia Silverstone‘s character Cher from 1995 Clueless (which now become an inspiration for a resurgence of 90s look in Autumn Winter 2013 season), or a signature look from Gwyneth Paltrow‘s Margot from Wes Anderson 2001 flick The Royal Tenenbaums (which is discussed by N for our moviecube this month).
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Being an industry of visuals , it is no wonder that presentation can become an integral part of a film, and fashion is undoubtedly one of the key elements.

It is no wonder that overtime, fashion designers and films developed a mutually beneficial bond. For decades fashion designs have inspired costumes in films and vice versa (as shown in the following fashion spread from Elle España). This relationship can be limited to a film, but sometimes it expanded to the actress or actor involved in the films as well. Designers started to get involved with directing, with Tom Ford of Gucci as the most notable example with his Oscar-nominated A Single Man (2009), and Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman is not far behind with her involvement with the Canon ‘Project Imaginat10n‘ anthology (source).

Collaboration between fashion designers and films started as soon as the 1930s when Coco Chanel‘ designs could be seen in MGM films although her most notable creation was in Louis Malle’s Les Amants (1958). Christian Dior also lent his designs to smaller films in the 1940s and 1950s, including including René Clair’s Le silence est d’or (Man About Town, 1947), Jean-Pierre Melville’s Les Enfants Terribles (1950), and Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright (1950). But relationship between films and fashion couturier probably most established in the 60s, most significantly in 1961 Breakfast at Tiffany. Hubert de Givenchy had been collaborating with costume designer Edith Head in previous Audrey Hepburn films before. But Givenchy name became synonymous with fashion as the iconic dress and pearls worn by Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly became a look coveted by women. The collaboration established both names as icons in the history of film. 1960s winner of Cannes Palme d’Or, La Dolce Vita which was written and directed by Federico Fellini was inspired by an iconic sack dress by a famed spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Although the dress nor his designs made no appearance in the film, Fellini pointed out that the vision of his film is credited to the dress.

Later on Yves Saint Laurent also dressed actress Catherine Deneuve in Belle Du Jour (1967). While American fashion designer Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for The Great Gatsby (1974) and Woody Allen‘s Annie Hall (1977). These collaborations brought the names such as Deneuve and Diane Keaton as a fashion icon of their time, with their looks replicated by the mainstream and created a whirlwind trend. Diane Keaton’s androgynous ensembles of wide legged pants and other masculine regalia can still be quoted as an inspiration to the chic boyfriend look, and can still be found in fashion magazine nowadays (bellow is a picture from a fashion spread on 2009 french Vogue.

Fret not, the fashion does not restricted to the female actress. Richard Gere beautifully tailored look in 1980 American Gigolo were created by Giorgio Armani. Armani also lend his hand in several films after that, including The Untouchables (1987), Ransom (1996), The Italian Job (2003). He had a strong relationship with director Martin Scorsese, as Scorsese directs several of his commercial as well as a short documentary Made in Milan (1990), and Armani acts as an executive producer on Scorsese’s reverential history of italian cinema, Il mio viaggio in Italia (1999). Nowadays, you can see the beautiful Armani suits worn by Christian Bale in Nolan’s The Dark Knight, by Brad Pitt in Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, and most recently on Jodie Foster in Blomkamp’s Elysium. The 90s mark further collaboration of fashion designers in notable films such as Nino Cerruti for Pretty Woman (1990) and Donna Karan for Great Expectations (1998).

Fashion designers does not only contribute to main stream or period films. The futuristic look of Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was created by British renowned Saville Row-based fashion house, courtier to the Queen, Sir Hardy Amies. Amies is known for his classic tailoring yet manage to create an iconic futuristic look befitting to the film need. Watch a short celebrating the collaboration at Hardy Amies official website. Another iconic look from a dystopian future film would be Milla Jovovich white bandage suit from Luc Besson‘s 1997 The Fifth Element. The suit along with 900+ other costume was created by Jean-Paul Gaultier, a french haute couture and Prêt-à-Porter designer.

Gaultier love affair with films started much earlier and he is not afraid to create contemporary costumes, not just a wardrobe. His works can be found in art-house films, such as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989), The City of Lost Children (La cité des enfants perdus, 1995), and Absolutely Fabulous (Absolument Fabuleux, 2001). He is a frequent collaborator to spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar. His designs can be found in his films such as Kika (1993), Bad Education (La mala educación, 2004), and The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito, 2011). Gaultier was named as one of the judge for Cannes Film Festival in 2012, where he became the was the first designer to be involved as a jury in the festival.

Fashion is not limited in dress and costumes. Small accessories such as shoes can make or break a film. In the biopic of Marie Antoinette (2006), Sofia Coppola collaborated with Manolo Blahnik as well as Pompei to create specially designed shoes to be worn by Kirsten Dunst as the notorious Madame Déficit. Darren Aronofsky‘s critically acclaimed Black Swan (2010) generates a lot of buzz in the fashion world triggered by the involvement of the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte as the ballet costume designer. Rodarte created beautiful sculptural costumes worn by both the White Swan (Swan Queen) and the Black Swan, as well as several other wardrobe for the film including the white dress worn by Natalie Portman in the film.

One of the most exciting fashion in 2013 film would be Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby has been adapted a total 5 time in all. The previous adaptation was in 1974, where Mia Farrow and Robert Redford played the lead and Ralph Lauren designed the wardrobe (which was resurrected recently in Ralph Lauren own SS2012 collection). For the 2013 Gatsby, Catherine Martin, Luhrmann’s wife and frequent collaborator, created a glamorous looks aided by several notable names in fashion designs. Not only the film collaborated with Tiffany to create iconic jewelry pieces, they also collaborated with Miuccia Prada in creating the look for the female characters in this film. One of the most prominent dress in the film is the chandelier dress worn by Carey Mulligan in the party scene that was recreated from Prada own SS2010 collection.

This list won’t be valid without Effie Trinket and the rest of the victors of the 2012 Hunger Games. If you can recall any costume from Hunger Games it would be Effie Trinket’s Schiaparelli Pink costume with pale face, colorful hair and painted lips. The film costume designer Judianna Makovsky cited the influence for the look came from Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, evident from the construction of the costumes as well as the outrageous styling and make up, which became synonymous with the film Capitol looks. Now in the second film, with new director on board, Catching Fire seems to be going all out under the supervision of Trish Summerville as the film costume designer. (allow a moment of silence to mourn Gary Ross departure from this project and let’s hope for the same if not better future film from the Francis Lawrence who stepped in his place). Lionsgate even launched a website devoted to the couture of Capitol, aptly named Capitol Couture.

So I have a personal reason why I am so excited by the wardrobe in Catching Fire. 1) Tex Saverio, and 2) Alexander McQueen. Tex Saverio is a young Indonesian designer who begin getting International recognition when his dress was worn by Lady Gaga in May 2011 Harper’s Bazaar and Fame perfume ad. He designed an opulent white wedding dress for Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), which seemed to be adapted from his glorious Le Glacon 2011 collection, a sculptural bodice with explosions of taffeta and tulle. His design definitely has an element of theatricality and an avant-garde approach that is reminiscent to McQueen. Granted, this dress would be burned off (as per trailer #2) and revealed the MockingJay dress. McQueen SS 2011 Butterfly dress and the fluffy layered organza dress from AW 2012 collection. Now if only Effie got to wear the Phillip Tracy Butterfly hat too (from his collaboration with McQueen in SS 2008 Le Dame Bleu collection for Issabella Blow). Fret not, even Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson) got coutured, he will be wearing super sleek suit from South Korean designer Juun.J as well as a pair of Rick Owen boots to complete his victor look.

Just like Givenchy’s Little Black Dress and Ralph Lauren’s masculine chic become a fashion trend for the general mass. Some films can become a source of inspiration for designers. Coppola’s Marie Antoinette become an inspiration for Marc Jacobs, Galliano, and even most recently Marchesa 2014 resort collection (and it also sparked the trend for pastels, which InspiredGround’s Andina made an extensive fashion post for it). James Cameron‘s Avatar (2009) become an inspiration on the use na’vi blue and neon hued collection of Proenza Schoeler. Alexander McQueen (may he rest in fierce) got the inspiration for a lot of his earlier collection from various films such as 1969 Sidney Pollack, 1963 Cleopatra, Kubrick’s The Shining, multiple Hitchcock films, Scorsese 1993 Taxi Driver films, etc. The idea did not transfer in a very literal way, but rather become subdued and subtle, capturing certain mood or specific cuts instead of a 100% duplication. We can be sure that the dynamical symbiotic relationship between the two would not end anytime soon.

As for the general public, namely fans of certain films, certain actress would be tempted to recreate the looks they’ve seen in movies. It triggers and creates trend, which means an opportunity to expand business and create numerous opportunities for product tie in promotions. I know for sure Trish Summerville and net-a-porter are going to release a capsule collection inspired by Catching Fire come november. We’ll continue the talk about it on Fashion and Film, coming up next on KaramelKinema :)

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11 thoughts on “Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion in Film

  1. wow i suppose ive never get into that deep about fashion in the movies, yeah this is a matter people should aware by now hehe..love your insight here kinema..and uh Kubrick’s Odyssey’s year, is that a typo?

    • I guess It’s just one of those things I like hahaha :3 this is pretty interesting though because a lot of things I just know like that Kubrick one!
      Btw yes that’s a frikkin typo xD thanks for sporting that one :)

  2. Wow you certainly love fashion. I do love Diane Keaton’s wardrobe in Annie Hall, but not the movie. Actually a lot movies I love the wardrobe but not the movie. Always love Hepburn, so classy and timeless.

    Didn’t know that Coppola collaborated with Manolo Blahnik for the shoes. Wow, that’s a good trivia. Proud of Tex Saverio, didn’t know that too. Now I want to see Catching Fire. Great post! And thanks for the mention :)

    • Haha maybe not as much as you but i do love production details, and i think wardrobe and costumes are integral part of a film anyway :)
      Hepburn is such a style icon right? i do love her style too!

      Apparently so! Coppola is a fan of the brand too and i guess she jumps at the chance to collaboration :3

      Tex Saverio has been gaining more and more international recognition, it’d so cool to see an Indonesian design on Catching Fire :D

      Thank you for the comment! XD

  3. Pingback: Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion and Film | KaramelKinema

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