Film and Fashion

There are many films that have huge sartorial merchandising potential and where fashion has a strong impact prompting fans of certain films to want to dress like the characters in the film. Films like “The Great Gatsby” with its 1920’s period costumes inspired a collection by Brooks Brothers of Gatsby-themed clothing themed from the remake of the film. The original 1970s Great Gatsby film captured what’s known as the 1920s ‘flapper style’ Jazz style and went on to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design. There are fashion companies, designers and well known brand names that benefit from a film’s costume impact and that use film as a platform for their clothes. In some cases film has the capacity to make not just a star of its actors and actresses but make them a fashion icon too, and this is mostly down to their on-screen style. There are lots of iconic fashion films that typify the sort of impact fashion has on both film and the actors and actresses.

La Dolce Vita and the moment where actress Anita Ekberg emerges from the Trevi fountain in a black dress. The film was very much inspired by fashion and Fellini said that the dress or Cristobal Balenciaga’s sack dress inspired La Dolce Vita.

Atonement and the infamous library scene set in a rambling old English country estate and the shimmering silk emerald green dress worn by Kiera Knightly designed by costume designer Jacqueline Durran who was nominated (but didn’t win) for an Academy award.

The Fifth Element with costumes worn by Milla Jovovich who’s character Leeloo is girded for battle in futuristic bondage-inspired costumes designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. There were a total of 954 costumes used in the film and Gaultier was on the film set each day to ensure the outfits were exactly how he visualized them.

Gilda where Rita Hayworth performs a striptease in a dress portraying a femme fatale and smoking cigarettes with such sharp inhalations that they accentuated the perfect concavities of her cheekbones. The dress was designed by Jean Lois and he was responsible for promoting her glamorous image.

Blade Runner a cult film directed by Ridley Scott and his view of the future set in 2019 in Los Angeles, where the landscape mainly consists of advertising billboards and lifelike electronic people the size of giants and weird and wonderful clothing that look like a mix of the futuristic and film noir. ‘Mary’ Sean Young played a character called Rachael, a replicant and love interest of Rick Decard, a blade runner played by Harrison Ford and who is one of the central characters and is like some sort of hard boiled detective from a film noir crime drama from the 1940s. There are some scenes of Rachael wrapped in a memorable fur coat designed by Charles Knode (who let her keep the fur coat when the film was finished) that gives her the appearance of another 1940s film noir heroine but with futuristic space age trimmings that adds to the atmosphere.

The Seven Year Itch and the iconic scene of Marilyn Monroe wearing a white halterneck dress with accordion pleats blowing up around her legs as she stands over a New York subway grate and an image perhaps almost as famous as Monroe herself. The dress was designed by costume designer William Travilla and was sold at auction for around $4.6 million.

There is a very interesting exhibitions, research and education project based in the University of the Arts London called Fashion in Film that explores the common ground shared by fashion and film. They have a really good film archive in relation to fashion and a section on current and recent festivals and projects.

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