Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion and Film

This is my second installment of Thoughts Out Loud article pondering about the relationship between fashion and film in Karamel Kinema own Fashion month. After seeing the evolution between designers and film costume and wardrobe in the first article, now let’s see what other relationship the two shared. FAF01 1930s Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli once claimed that “what Hollywood designs today, you will be wearing tomorrow”. A perfect quote to describe what i had for you behind this cut. Fashion trend is considered a fad: an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something that is usually short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; and it is a curious thing. While the trend it self could be forecasted, sometimes the source of the trend itself that are more unexpected. It can be sparked by a simple imagery, something as simple as colour or accessories, or something more complex, like cuts and silhouette.  Films often become one of the source of these trend. Joan Crawford’s 1932 Letty Lynton dress (black and white on the right) by designer Adrian, is probably one of the first example of this particular feat. The dress with voluminous shoulder and similar silhouette was replicated and sold to women who just went gaga for it.
Yes, fashion is one of the way for film fan to emulate the characters they emulate on screen, this is why movies such as Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Annie Hall (1977) can become a huge influence to the mass. Influencing regular women style to decorate high-end fashion, becoming a new definition of chic. Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962) become one of the inital inspiration to Japanese street fashion culture, evoking youth and fun from the image of a young girl with heart-shapped sun glasses alone. Yes, even something as small as sunglasses can create a sudden storm of trend set by films.

Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) wardrobe was assembled for under a limited $10.000 budget and the black suits, black tie, white shirt with narrow silhouette become an iconic look that are copied by the fans of the films. Along with the suits, the character of the film wore different vintage shades, one of the stood out (amongst the wayfarers and QT’s predator) is Mr Orange (Tim Roth) Clubmasters from Ray-Ban. I don’t know if Ray-Ban supported Reservoir Dogs or not, but since 1982 Ray Ban has been forking out $50.000 annually to have their products placed on television and movies alike (such as its wayfarers in Risky Business  (1982) and aviator in Top Gun (1986), both worn by Tom Cruise). Let’s face it, the film industry need the cash, the fashion business needed airtime, seeing film as a viable marketing tool that can spark a sales boom.
Film can inspired a collection of fashion line and accessories. Sometimes as a loose inspiration: like Ralph Lauren took television show Downtown Abbey as the inspiration for their 2012 FW collection in subtle ways. Sometimes its just a collaborative: evident in the infamous series of Louis Vuitton premium brown leather luggage with Safari Prints and Gold insignia created by Marc Jacobs for Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. The luggages adapted from LV classic lines was never sold, but auctioned off right after the movie came up. Sometimes it turns into a collaborative tie-in promotions. Korine’s Spring Breakers had a tie-in promo with Opening Ceremony, a multinational retail store that carries various items that showcase the spirit of travel and merchandise of a visiting country transforming each store into a marketplace for exotic souvenirs and international talent. The collection entitled 4EVER, consists of a line of bikinis, towels, bags, sweatshirts and pants, as well as accessories perfect for actual spring breaks use. It also carries the film signature pink unicorn face mask.
Banana Republic have made several collections inspired by Television and films. I know they had at least 3 different Mad Man collections and did a take on Anna Karenina (2012) 19th century glam. Jacqueline Durran the costume designer for the movie collaborated with the store to create a modern look with small touches of lace and fur embellished onto modern pieces giving it a touch of luxury without being overwhelmingly costume-y.
Brooks Brothers created suits for the men for Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013), Like Prada collaborated with Catherine Martin on the women costumes and Tiffany & Co created signature pieces for the film from their historical archives. Like Tiffany & Co, Brooks Brothers also created a collection inspired by the film, well to be honest it’s almost the exact same suits and ties, and everything else. So the men can dressed up in the pink suit Leonardo DiCaprio wore, cozy up in the same green cardigan and bow tie wore by Tobey Macguire, and even walk in the same wing-tip shoes.
Sue Wong, an american fashion designer also created a collection inspired by the look of the film, she also created a collection based on Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) exclusive to Bloomingdale’s and Macys. Beside Wong, Oz also inspired a 4 piece shoe collection by Nicholas Kirkwood for Selfridge’s and a tie-in promotion with to launch a capsule collection of items designed by the like of Naeem Khan, Steve Madden and Badgley Mischka created shoes, dresses, and accessories based on the look of the movie. (I began to wonder if the film also influenced Pantone 2013 color of the year, which is Emerald).
Trish Summerville, the wardrobe and costume designer responsible for layered looks of Daniel Craig’s Blomkvist and the goth-punk, street-style edginess of Rooney Mara’s Salander on David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo collaborated with (ironically) Swedish multinational retail company H&M. Coincided with the film release, a capsule collection was released at the store based on the look of Lisbeth Salander. The collection was sold out. Now, Summerville is also the woman behind the couture looks of Catching Fire, this time she has a collaboration with to launch a 16-piece collection inspired by the looks of the film, aptly named Capitol Couture (Again, ironic). The collection will be released in November to coincide with the release of the film itself. If the previous film Hunger Games had a tie-in collaboration with China Glaze nail lacquer of a 12-piece collection, Catching Fire had a full make up collaboration with Covergirl, giving teenage fangirls everywhere a chance to have that capitol look.
Let me expand from fashion to beauty a little on this one. Make up collaborations happen almost as often as fashion, they are one of the ways for the fan of the film to emulate the on-screen characters they idolize. Films like Snow White and The Huntsman (2011) have a tie-in with Benefit cosmetics, Dark Shadows  (2012) released a thematic make up palette wit NYX, Twilight even have their own make up line because everybody wants that pasty yet sparkly look of Edward Cullen. OPI nail lacquer already released several tie-in collection with films over the last 3 years alone, including Alice In Wonderland, Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Muppets, The Amazing Spider-Man, SkyFall and Bond Girls collection, and Oz: The Great and Wonderful.
If i’m not mistaken Dark Shadows also had a collaboration with ORLY nail polish. Television shows True Blood and Girls collaborated with Deborah Lippmann to create a signature nail polish. Lipmann also had a tie-in duo package with Snow White and The Huntsman although the shade was taken from her pre-existing collection. Now, even film festival has their own tie-in promotions. L’Oreal created a limited collections consists of Nude shades for nails and lips to celebrate 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and collaborated with Doutzen Kroes, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, and Freida Pinto. This year Chanel own highly coveted Le Vernis had a collection not only to coincide with Fashion’s Night Out (this year collection is called Nuit Magique), but also a 3-piece collection called Avant Première which was released to coincide with 2013 Cannes Film Festival this year. Chanel Le Vernis also had a collection inspired by Hitchcock films back in fall 2012, consists of Suspicious, Frenzy, and Vertigo.
Chanel Le Vernis was becoming a highly sought after brand after their classic shade Rouge Noir was decorating Uma Thurman’s Mia Wallace’s dark red tips in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The product had a spike in sales due to that exposure alone.

Why are there product placement in films? well because it’s a way to secure much needed funding for the film. It should be a win-win situation since film audience especially cinemagoers, because they are captive audience with the intention of being entertained. Aided by the dark environment, sounds, and seating condition, it increases the chance of advertisers to gain audience attention. To work optimally, the placement of brands and products in cinematographic works has to be clear, truthful and correct and have to be integrated in a consistent manner with the narrative context. It really is nothing new, probably dated back to the 1896 when the Lumière Brothers inadvertently show their factory in the background of their films, La Sorite des usines Lumière, giving life for the first ever product placement.

Fashion and films started as the source of trends in the 1930s, before the relationship escalates to collaborative efforts in the 1950s, creating illusions and fantasy images in the 1960s-1980s, and evolve into a more definite product placement post 1980s. There are definitely shameless product placements in films that have the undesired reverse effect for the audience. Bond’ Casino Royale, The Devil Wears Prada, and both Sex and the City films to name a few, was overwhelmingly stocked with luxurious fashion items and shoving them down the audiences throat. But there are some subtle and smart approaches that can be employed without sacrificing audience enjoyment of the film itself.

(This has been quite a girly post, hasn’t it? Well for the men, you can always wear your $1700 Batman costume replica. Just add cape. :D)

Coming up next, the last part of Fashion theme in Thoughts out Loud series: Fashion Films.


One thought on “Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion and Film

  1. Pingback: Monthly Digest: 2013 September | KaramelKinema

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