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10 Iconic Movies That Changed Fashion

By Fatima N.

10 Iconic Movies That Changed Fashion


Along with art museums and books, movies are a constant source of inspiration for fashion trends. The two have a connection, movies are great reference points for fashion. We copy characters seen on the screen. If we are aiming for a certain decade's look, we look to films of that era because movies are time capsules for fashion. Designers look to film for inspiration for their collections. Stars in the film also became stars in style, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and the like. Films and fashion trends share a common ground, and here are 10 films that prove it...


Alicia Silverstone in Clueless ('90s)



Clueless ('90s)

1) Gone With the Wind


In 1939, Scarlett O'Hara stole the silver screen with her Walter Punkett designed dresses. They were Oscar worthy, the only reason they didn't win it was because there was no category for it. The pattern of the dress Scarlett wears in the picnic scene was the most bought pattern after the film's premiere.


Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind

2) Out of Africa


This 80's flick made the safari look ubiquitous. Linen, cotton shirts, leather riding boots, khakis were all part of the wardrobe of the film, and then, everyone else's! The costume designer, Milena Canonero was nominated for an Oscar, editorials were heavily influenced from the film and designers like Mickheal Kors and Yves Saint Laurent used it as a basis for their collections.


3) Roman Holiday


Yes, yes we get it. Breakfast at Tiffany's is THE fashion film. Let's move on now. Or rather, move back. Roman Holiday was Audrey Hepburn's first movie, the movie that launched her career as an actress as well as a style icon. After the film, women tried to copy Audrey's Rome runaway outfit, a blouse with rolled up sleeves, a midi skirt, and a scarf tied around the neck. It was 50's chic, but it's still wearable today. Edith Head was in charge of the wardrobe, and lucky Audrey got to keep all of it afterwards. For more on this style icon, click here.


4) Bonnie & Clyde


Pre-Bonnie & Clyde, cardigans, berets, pencil skirts and tweed coats were not a thing. It was the 60's, a decade characterized by go-go boots and the miniskirt. This flick changed that, bringing back 30's fashion and great silhouettes. It also influenced many editorials, for example in Harper's Bazaar's March 2010 issue. Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) was dressed by Theadora Van Runkle.




5) Clueless


In a list of iconic fashion films, how can I leave out Clueless?! As if! In a decade of grunge, Cher's yellow plaid, knee socks and generally Beverly Hills closet made an impact. Every girl wanted Cher's computer organized closet and everything in it. We still do, as proven by Wildfox's Spring 2013 Clueless inspired line.


6) Cleopatra


Elizabeth Taylor starred as Cleopatra in the film of the same name in 1963. Moviegoers were treated to a feast for the eyes; the costumes and set were elaborately designed. Three designers were called to work for this film. Irene Sharaff was responsible for Cleopatra's clothes. There was heavily draped Grecian dresses, layered gold jewelry and LOTS of eyeliner. The film's costumes were so ornate that it cost $194,800, an unprecedented amount of money for the costume department.


7) To Catch a Thief


This Hitchcock thriller is set in beautiful France, an adequate place for the elegant Grace Kelly, the actor/royal. Her costumes were designed by Edith Head (a huge figure in the costume design industry). You can see a translation of Dior's New Look in some of the outfits. The colors are beautiful, the gold lame, the icy blue, the muted pink. I want them all.


8) The Philadelphia Story


This film stars the lesser known Hepburn, Katherine Hepburn. She was a character in her own right, a strong assertive woman unprecedented in Hollywood society. She wore pants in a time when pants weren't acceptable. It wasn't even a decision made out of spite, she looked great in them! The film's costumes were designed by Adrian, an American costume designer.


9) Breakfast at Tiffany's


Ok, fine, we can't move on. "Iconic fashion film" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" are interchangeable terms. After all, what other film resurged the popularity of the little black dress? The wardrobe was all Givenchy (famous fashion friendship by the way, Audrey and Givenchy) Besides the little black dress, Audrey shows us the staying power of the trench coat and the elegance of the simplicity of a turtleneck with slacks.


10) Doctor Zhivago


Relevant to the upcoming weather, Doctor Zhivago changed outerwear by inspiring designers to use more fur, mainly on the cuffs and collars of coats. It was called the "Zhivago Look" and it was great with boots and fur hats. Other then all the outerwear, the main charachter Lara (played by Julie Christie) looked crisp in white button downs and ribbons in her hair.


Kate Mulleavy of the Rodarte duo said, "Film projects a fantasy that we had about what a garment could do, how it could transform someone's life." Film shows us how clothes work to project a character. People respond to clothes on the silver screen and translate it to their own outfits or their own collections. How we feel, how we want to be perceived all effect our clothing decisions. When a lot of people feel the same way, it translates to a fashion trend, a certain look, changing fashion's trajectory forever. No inspo like show inspo.

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