Costumers on film sets often find inspiration from fashion designers, bringing signature runway pieces onto the big screen. On the flip side, the cultural impact of movies with a focus on fashion sets the zeitgeist and sartorial conversation.
In the spirit of fashion month, we’re looking back at six of the best fashion films you should add to your watch list.
The Devil Wears Prada
There is no movie more synonymous with fashion than The Devil Wears Prada. A comedy drama satirising the perils of being an assistant to the most powerful editor, it quickly became a cult film for its uncanny resemblance to the fashion magazine Vogue – not really a surprise considering the novel it was based on was written by Anna Wintour’s former personal assistant. During its production, more than US$1 million was spent on the wardrobe for the cast.
Since its release, the movie has made a lasting impact on popular culture, with Wintour saying in an interview that “anything that makes fashion entertaining and glamorous and interesting is wonderful for [the] industry.” Fun fact: Wintour attended the premiere of the movie wearing – you’ve guessed it – Prada.
Blue Steel. Need we say more? Ben Stiller’s hilarious portrayal of the dimwitted supermodel Derek Zoolander created the expression that is now used beyond the script. Zoolander’s impact didn’t stop there, with the “model” and his counterpart, Hansel (played by Owen Wilson) walking on Valentino Couture’s Spring/Summer 2016 presentation.
In the film, catch cameos from then-Posh Spice (now Victoria Beckham), Paris Hilton, David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, and Natalie Portman.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Audrey Hepburn and Tiffany, name us a more iconic duo. The award-winning actress plays Holly Golightly, a socialite who, in the opening scene, has breakfast at Tiffany’s. While the storyline is the typical trope where the star eventually runs back to her lover after contemplating skipping town, it is her wardrobe that pushed the film into the hall of greats.
Think about it: When you hear the words, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” or “Audrey Hepburn”, the image that is immediately conjured is of the actress in her little black dress from Givenchy, standing outside the windows of the Tiffany flagship on Fifth Avenue. The necklace she wore while promoting the film also comprised of the iconic Tiffany Yellow Diamond, one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered. It’s the same one Lady Gaga wore at this year’s Oscars.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby’s impact on fashion isn’t obvious at first, but a glance at themed parties since the movie premiered will tell a bigger story. Elegant art deco dressing from the Roaring Twenties came back to dominate the gala circuit. Think low waistlines, fringed dresses, the cloche hat, sharply-tailored suits, and an extravagance envisioned by Baz Luhrmann and his wife Catherine Martin that were transplanted into ballrooms everywhere.
Of course, the decadent wardrobe – designed by both Martin and Miuccia Prada – became inspiration for many ball attendees who had to fit in to the “Great Gatsby” theme. Were the costumes accurate to the time? No, maybe except for the men’s clothes. But Martin and Prada both created a 21st-century vision of the 1920s, which might explain why the film had the fashion impact it did.
Sex and the City
The story of Carrie Bradshaw and her many pairs of Manolo Blahniks have captured the fashion-loving hearts of the show, Sex and the City, for years. The feature film that came after the series had ended only served to satisfy our guilty pleasure of unrealistic-livng-in-New-York (seriously though, how could Bradshaw afford her shopaholic tendencies as a freelance column writer? We want to know her secrets).
Similar to the impact the series had on fashion – an Instagram account dedicated to documenting every outfit on the show has 600k followers – the film also drew the support from many prominent fashion personalities. Manolo Blahnik created a shoe for Sarah Jessica Parker; Vivienne Westwood designed a wedding gown for Bradshaw; André Leon Talley had a cameo styling the bride-to-be, too.
As the chick-flick before the premiere of Mean Girls, Clueless set a standard for what 90s dressing should look like: plaid jackets with a matching skirt, Calvin Klein mini dresses, and the form-fitting bodycon outfits from Azzedine Alaïa. After all, Cher Horowitz’s refusal to get on the ground as she’s robbed at gunpoint because “this is an Alaïa!” has got to be one of fashion’s most iconic moments captured.