Fashion and Cinema: A Mutual Attraction

Maria Boado

Fashion and film are two artistic disciplines that flirt with each other in a symbiotic relationship where movie stars disseminate the new trends, and their personal styles influence the spectacular wardrobes of the films in which they appear.

Since the dawn of the 20th century, movies have been the most enduring entertainment for the masses and the most effective distribution channel for new fashion trends. Fashion and film are two artistic disciplines that flirt with each other in a symbiotic relationship where movie stars disseminate the new trends, and their personal styles influence the spectacular wardrobes of the films in which they appear. A clear example of this predicament is Marlene Dietrich. The great diva of 1930’s cinema made her debut in with The Blue Angel, the first European sound film, directed by Josef von Sternberg. In it, she shows a slim silhouette that did not correspond to the patterns of the time. At the same time, Dietrich’ s wardrobe on screen was the precursor of the revolutionary androgynous style, which continues to influence the way women dress today.Fashion & CinemaSoon after, Dietrich shocked the world in the film Morocco, appearing in top hat, tails and bow tie. She was already working with great Hollywood designers such as Travis Banton, Edith Head and Jean Louis. Throughout her life, Marlene Dietrich was dressed by many of fashion’s greatest legends, including Lanvin, Lelong and Vionnet.When we talk about screen characters whose personality and style have captivated the public’s imagination, one cannot ignore Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn in Blake Edwards’ 1961 romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Until the day she died, Audrey Hepburn was considered one of the most elegant women who ever lived. Her black sunglasses from Breakfast at Tiffany’s became the rage among young women of the time. The film was also the outlet for Hubert Givenchy to reintroduced Coco Chanel’s 1920s petite robe noir. If you ask any woman today to mention her one indispensable piece, most will tell you they cannot live without the little black dress. Hepburn adopted Givenchy as her personal couturier, turning their relationship into one of the most fruitful collaborations between fashion designers and movie stars.

Fashion & Cinema

Another equally fruitful partnership born on the set occurred between actress Catherine Deneuve and designer Yves Saint Laurent, to whom the filmmaker Luis Buñuel commissioned, in 1967, the wardrobe Deneuve would wear in the cinematic masterpiece Belle de Jour. With this role, Deneuve became the muse of the leading designers of her time.

Fashion & Cinema

When it comes to actors, Cary Grant is, undoubtedly, the epitome of classic elegance. His standout performances were always complemented with a great sense of style, making him the most adored leading man of his generation. Meanwhile, Humphrey Bogart popularized the trench coat in the iconic film Casablanca, directed by Michael Curtiz in 1942. As its name implies, trench coats were used mainly in military uniforms. After Bogart, men of all ages continue to include this piece in their elegant wardrobes.

Fashion & Cinema

The simple, urban style of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, directed by Nicholas Ray in 1955, is one of the most influential shifts in 20th menswear. The combination of jeans, basic T-shirts and worn boots, clothes that until then were only used for work, found a place in the closets of young men around the world.

Fashion & Cinema

From the beginning, the movies also lured many of the most brilliant haute couture designers of the last century. When Hollywood became the Mecca of Cinema, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Grès and Mariano Fortuny did not hesitate to travel from Europe to work in major movie studios in Los Angeles.

The Spanish couturier Balenciaga was also attracted by the cinema and even designed the costumes for more than twenty films featuring the most renowned stars. But only the great Christian Dior won the Oscar in 1953 for Best Costume Design for his work on the film Termini Station, by the Italian director Vittorio de Sica.

At the crossroads of film and fashion, it is also very common to see famous actors and actresses posing for fashion magazines and modeling for top designers. Similarly, several top fashion models have made the leap to the big screen.

In addition, for many years, the Oscars have become a great fashion spectacle for the world, where designers seeking the widest exposure choose the actors and actresses who best represent the values of their labels. Also, the fashion world has been a compelling argument for movies. To mention just two examples: Prêt-à-Porter by Robert Altman and The Devil Wears Prada by David Frankel.

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