From Screen to Street: 8 Famous Cinema Fashion Styles
Posted on: 11/02/2016
In celebration of 10 years of our Fashion on Film series with VAMFF, we're taking a look at the screen styles that have made it to the streets and catwalks.
Anita Ekberg emerging from the Trevi fountain in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita is one of the most memorable moments in cinema. You can imagine after the film hit screens, the fashionistas of the world would mimic the iconic look. But rather than the movie inspiring the fashion, the fashion inspired the movie. Co-screenwriter and long-time Fellini collaborator confirmed this:
"... the fashion of women's sack dresses which possessed that sense of luxurious butterflying out around a body that might be physically beautiful but not morally so; these sack dresses struck Fellini because they rendered a woman very gorgeous who could, instead, be a skeleton of squalor and solitude inside."
In the history of film though, La Dolce Vita is probably an anamoly. More often, it's the celluloid that first sells a particular style to the world. We take a look at 8 of the best styles sampled from the silver screen.
Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Breathless
Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless didn't just pioneer the French New Wave, but also introduced audiences to the effortless, Parisian panache of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Belmondo's on-the-run crook Michel's suits salute another cinema icon in Bogart, while Seberg's Patricia, a US expat untethered to '50s American conservatism, inspired women around the world to don striped breton tops, chinos and ballet flats, all topped off with a rakish, pixie haircut.
"It’s safe to assume the young director would never have predicted the impact his film would also have on the wardrobes of legions of young Americans setting off for a semester abroad in Paris," Kate Scheyer writes in Vanity Fair, nor would Godard and Seberg known the style would still seem so fresh today.
Just one of the many magazine spreads today still advising how to get the Breathless look.
Bonnie and Clyde
Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in Bonnie and Clyde
There must be something stylish about crooks on the run (doubtful Woody Harrelson's Mickey Knox would make this list though), because Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty's Bonnie and Clyde have been on fashion's most wanted list since 1967.
Technically a 1930's noir, there's a structured classicism to the costume but also a counterculture flaire, especially Dunaway's Bonnie. Sure, Beatty's top-buttoned shirts, vests and tweed could belong to a Collingwood barber, but it's Dunaway's berets, trench coats and fine knits that have proved timeless. With A-line skirts coupled with loose tops and that beret, Dunaway's cigar-smoking crim had a cool beatnik edge.
But that beret isn't just a nod to bongo-slapping stereotypes, rather its the pièce de résistance. As costume designer Theadora Van Runkle has said, “The beret was the final culmination of the silhouette. In it, she combined all the visual elements of elegance and chic. Without the beret, it would have been charming, but not the same.”
Bonnie and Clyde is reportedly Kate Moss' favourite film
Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box
Films have been influencing style and fashion since before they had sound. Louise Brooks stars in 1929 silent film Pandora's Box as LuLu, an alluring seductress that leads her lovers, and herself, to ruin.
Though a dark tale, Brooks shines in a series of shimmering, sexual outfits, but the biggest style to come out of the shadows is her close-cropped bob haircut. Though the film was initially unappreciated, Brooks' portrayal shot her to stardom and her style became synonymous with the Jazz Age, with her bob widely mimicked.
Hasn't lost much of its lustre today either.
Rihanna, Katie Holmes and Natalie Portman have all rocked Lulu's style
Kiera Knightley in the famous green dress from Atonement
Speaking of copies, if Helen's face could launch a thousand ships, the green evening gown Kiera Knightley wears in Atonement could launch a thousand knock-offs.
Worn during the infamous library scene, it's probably more memorable than the movie's twist ending and co-star James McAvoy. In fact, it's been voted Best Costume of All Time and drew huge crowds on display in our Hollywood Costume exhibition.
After the film was released, the Internet was flooded with cheap replics, but as Clothes on Film states:
"The sight of posh Keira Knightley swathed in emerald green silk has encouraged a revival of the classic Hollywood look in all social circles. However it is rarely flattering unless constructed with imense skill. This dress is an enigma, the pinnacle of unreachable elegance. It is meant to be adored, not worn."
We could post a few pictures of those baggy duplicates, but better to adore the real thing.
Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra
Cleopatra is epic. It's not just the five hour plus run time, the treacherous love-triangle between Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), Mark Antony (Richard Burton) and Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison), or that it was plagued with production troubles of a Biblical scale and almost bankrupt 20th Century Fox, but that it has had such a lasting impact on styles and fashion.
Though you could put this influence down to the actual historical figure of Cleopatra, Dr. Hazel Clark, Research Chair of Fashion and Professor in the MA Fashion Studies program at Parsons The New School for Design, says that “In the contemporary imagination, the movie powerfully brought images of Cleopatra which are still very present and seductive, [and that image] was very much linked to the early 1960s. I think there’s been a revived interest in the early 1960s, with the popularity of Mad Men and stores like Banana Republic picking up the look.”
You don't need to travel to distant lands to see Cleopatra's colonisation of style.
Alexander McQueen's 2007 Autumn/Winter collection inspired by Cleopatra
Fashion blogger Micah Gianneli calls this look Neo Cleo
"Do you prefer "fashion victim" or "ensembly challenged"?"
As if we could have a list of film fashions without this '90s classic teen comedy. Even if you overlooked the power plaid preppy look of the Beverly Hills highschoolers or the grungy guys, just think of all the memorable quotes.
"You see how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet."
"He does dress better than I do, what would I bring to the relationship?"
"Where’s my white collarless shirt from Fred Segal. It’s my most capable looking outfit!"
Of course, the costumes have a part to play in the story, which is analysed here, but a quick Google search will throw up all kinds of fashion editorials ripped right from the movie.
Think Ridley Scott's neo-noir sci-fi classic is an odd inclusion for this list? There doesn't seem to be much glamour in the gritty 2019 Los Angeles, but as any good sartorialist knows, the streets can supply plenty of style inspo.
Take Darryl Hannah's Priscilla "Pris" Stratton, the "pleasure model" replicant incepted on Valentine's Day. With an eruption of bleached blonde hair, leopard print jackets, chokers, sheer tops and torn nylons held up by garters, Pris presents an aesthetic perfectly suited to survive dystopia. In fact, the style itself, particulary the spraypainted eyes (YouTube make-up tutorial right here), has itself been replicated on catwalks around the world.
For what it's worth, Pris has also landed herself on a list of the 100 Sexiest Women in Science Fiction at 54, beating out Sean Young's Rachel from the same film.
You can find out more about the fashions in Blade Runner here.
And you thought Blade Runner was a little left of centre? Well bear with us on Beetle Juice. While you don't see a lot of people popping out of gravestones in black-and-white stripped suits like Michael Keaton's titular character, you may see Lydia Deetz's style haunting sidewalks.
An onyx antidote to the more saccharine teen girls that appeared on screen in the late '80s and early '90s, Winona Ryder's isolated, pale, black-cald Lydia Deetz reminded people they didn't have to be pretty in pink. Of course there are a lot of factors that draped goth stylings over adolescents in the early '90s, but Tim Burton's film inevitably helped shape the look.
As Justine Harman writes in Elle, much of Lydia's fashion stylings mirrored her attitude; "whether she was wearing a schoolgirl outfit stuffed with crinoline, a nondescript painter's smock, or a blood-red wedding dress to match her evil stepmother's, there was something aspirational about how few fucks she actually gave."
Seriously, would the Weeknd have his hair if it weren't for Lydia Deetz?
Obviously this list could have gone on forever, but film looks that deserve your own perusal are Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Katharine Hepburn in anything for appropriating masculine fashion into her iconic look, Little Edie in Grey Gardens (totally meta), Clara Bow in It, Mia Farrow in The Great Gatsby, Jane Fonda in Barbarella... really, the list goes on and on.
Why don't you tell us some of your favourites in the comment below?
Fashion on Film 2016 runs from 24 Feb - 14 March.comments powered by Disqus
Faye Dunaway demure in Bonnie and Clyde.