Fashion on Film
Today is the official start of fashion season, so I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite films where fashion played a central character. And while fashion films like Valentino: The Last Emperor, The September Issue and Unzipped are definitely must-see for their behind-the-scenes exclusivity, my favorite fashion films were not necessarily about fashion and yet somehow fashion stole the spotlight.
American Gangster 2007
In one of the best films of 2007 starring Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe and Chiwetel Ejiofor, costume designer Janty Yates captured the true spirit of the 1970s. I particularly loved Janty’s selections for Denzel’s love interest played by Lymari Nadal which were sophisticated and elegant for a gangster’s wife.
Bonnie & Clyde 1967
Costume designer Theadora Van Runkle loved women in hats and in Bonnie & Clyde she dressed Faye Dunaway in berets and even a fedora with a dress slip and the resulting effect was sophisticated gangster. Faye and Theodora would continue to work together in other films like the Thomas Crown Affair and Theodora became Faye’s personal designer in real life as well.
Reginald Hudlin directed this 1990s romantic comedy starring Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry and Robin Givens. Set in the competitive cosmetics world, costume designer Francine Jameson-Tanchuck insured that everyone looked beautiful, but it was Robin Givens clothes that stole the spotlight and encouraged career women everywhere to upgrade their wardrobes.
Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant are the stars of Charade. Need I say more? From the opening scene with Audrey in a uber chic ski outfit on the slopes in Switzerland to their exploits along the Champs Elysees in Paris, costume designer Hubert de Givenchy’s coats, scarves, gloves and dresses for Audrey were absolute perfection.
Coco Avant Chanel 2009
In the movie about Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s life, costume designer Catherine Leterrier designed from Coco’s humble beginnings through the height of her success and the uniqueness in what Catherine achieved on film was in her decision to show Coco’s influences and inspirations for a bit of backstory and context in addition to all of the famous designs.
My childhood best friend and I would stay up late whenever this movie aired because the life of a fashion designer in Rome seemed so glamorous to us as little girls. Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Perkins starred in Mahogany, but the 1970s fashions were the true star and oh, yeah the movie’s theme song Do You Know Where You’re Going To wasn’t bad either.
North by Northwest 1959
It’s gotta be the suit! In this Hitchcock film starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, Cary’s slimcut Kilgore suit would have stolen the show if it were not for Eva Marie Saint’s elegant wardrobe. Unhappy with the clothes that MGM originally pulled for Eva’s character, Hitchcock took Eva to Bergdorf Goodman for a shopping spree and the rest, as they say, is movie history.
Ocean’s Twelve 2004
Ocean’s Twelve seems like a no-brainer with all of the man candy in a film set in stunning European locales, but costume designer Milena Canonero had to dress twelve different male personalities ranging from sophisticated to flamboyant and she did so with great success. In addition, Milena styled Vincent Cassel as a European playboy and had to chicly and creatively hide Julia Robert’s growing baby bump.
Audrey Tautou is a playgirl who uses men to live a lavish lifestyle in the South of France and somehow gets men to give her carte blanche to shop to her hearts content and the resulting wardrobe by costume designer Virginia Montel was fabulous.
Thomas Crown Affair 1999
Thomas Crown Affair 1968
Sure Steve McQueen was steaming in the original, but let’s not sleep on Pierce Brosnan in the 1999 remake because he and Rene Russo were beyond sexy. Of course the most talked about star was the Céline wardrobe Michael Kors designed for Rene Russo’s character. Rene proved that a woman over 40 still had what it takes to smolder on screen and everyone wanted to buy that wardrobe.
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