Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Films that changed Fashion

I just stumbled upon this great article in The Times and decided to share it with you.

April 21, 2010

25 movies that shook the world of fashion

Ticking off the calendar until Sex and the City 2? Well, we aren’t. There are just so many more stylish movies out there . . .

Alas poor Carrie, we knew her well and we knew her clothes even better. Liked quite a few of them too. But that was way back in the Noughties. Simpler times. An era when eclectic wasn’t some lazy adjective chucked at anyone who looks as though she got dressed in the dark. But now we’re on to Sex and The City: The Movie 2, God knows how it will pan out. Part 1 was a shameless milking of a cash cow that was running dangerously low on lactose. Unless they’ve recruited a whole new writing team, the sequel could end up making Jaws 4 look like Beckett.
There are some things to applaud about The Sex and the Cityfranchise — $262 million (£170 million) for the first film and counting — even if its chief redeeming feature is that the four protagonists aren’t a CGI-generated, machine-gun-toting sub-species of teenage mutants, but four women approaching middle age.
But this plus is nullified by the almighty weight of expectation — or rather the bludgeoning tactics of the Hollywood hype machine that insists on behaving as if every member of the female gender is now in the grip of a frenzy of anticipation at the prospect of watching SJP & Co gyrate across the screen in their designer outfits.
It’s not even as if they’re nice designer outfits. With the exception of the inimitably chic Parker, who could — and has — made boob tubes look glamorous, the other three co-stars appear like a bunch of drag queens on a day trip to Bluewater. Patricia Field, we hereby accuse you of grave style crimes — and here we nominate ten films infinitely more worthy of fashion veneration.
West Side Story, 1961 
Natalie Wood plays an impoverished Puerto Rican on the wrong side of town, but still gets to wear ravishing New Look silhouettes with beautifully matching shoes. THis disregard for the tenets of gritty kitchen-sink drama bothered us for years, but then we remembered that her character Maria worked in a bridal shop — was she helping herself to fabric and dye when the boss wasn’t looking? And is that why she felt so pretty? Watch the trailer here

Belle de Jour, 1967 
The director Luis Buñuel steadfastly maintained that this was a serious psycho-sexual study of bourgeois neurosis. Nice try Buñuel. Obviously what’s really on show here is Catherine Denueve’s stupefyingly chic wardrobe — designed for her by YSL himself. Seriously — the clothes helped to nail the Deneuve character’s pampered, demure confusion. Incidentally, those buckled Roger Vivier shoes are still a favourite 40 years on, although not all customers buy into the Madonna-whore subtext.

The Big Sleep, 1946 
Notwithstanding that she is one of the most beautiful females ever to grace the planet, Lauren Bacall’s Big Sleep looks — the pinned-back hair, the chicly tilted hats, the power-shouldered jackets — were arguably the finest she wore on screen. And observe again at the dress in which she serenades the punters in Eddie Mars’s gambling den: incomparable. Watch the trailer here

Atonement, 2007 
How come films set in the 1930s almost always look better than films made in the 1930s? Moving as Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel is, Keira Knightley’s clothes steal the show. The costume designer Jacqueline Durran grasped the period and ran with it — languid, elegant, understated yet drop-dead gorgeous. We’re close to tears just thinking about that green satin evening dress that almost distracted us from a crucial plot point. PS: no one should look as good as Knightly did in that bathing cap. Watch the trailer here

Bonnie and Clyde, 1967 
Bonnie Parker’s main accessory, aside from her gun and Clyde Barrow, was a series of killer hats. Her beret and silk scarf combination is as legendary as it is simple, and the beribboned fedoras she wore on several heists gave her a sense of propriety in improper circumstances. Bonnie’s clothes flipped between neat two-piece skirt suits that were deceivingly modest and button-through slips. Whatever the crime, her blonde bob stayed unruffled. Watch the trailer here

Annie Hall, 1977 
Admittedly, that androgynous waistcoat and tie shtick, based on Diane Keaton’s own wardrobe of vintage menswear, looks a little clunky now. But no Annie Hall, no Ralph Lauren. That’s just for starters. Annie’s impact reverberates even today — see Chloe, Celine. Keaton opted for a similar rig-up to collect her Oscar that year. Yup, shock-horror, actress wears own clothes on red carpet. They don’t make them like that any more. Watch the trailer here

Factory Girl, 2006 
To play the part of Edie Sedgwick with any conviction Sienna Miller had to employ the skills of her enormous eyes and long, nubile legs. The clothes in between were a revolving mixture of black leotards, striped dresses and enormous animal skins. The young Edie was as arrogant and disillusioned as she was stylish. Although she spent a good part of the film in nothing more than a pair of tights, wherever she went piles of necklaces and several knuckleduster rings followed. Watch the trailer here

Coco avant Chanel, 2009 
Audrey Tatou is perhaps the only actress worthy of the Coco avant Chanel role, for which she is rightly fêted. But Priceless (2006) is a much more entertaining film. Tatou plays a gold-digger who makes a terrible error and sleeps with an impoverished hotel worker. He falls for her, and she punishes him for it by screwing him and his credit card for gifts from Azaro, Chanel, the lot — everything lovely she can get her hands on. Nasty but devastatingly stylish. Watch the trailer here

Gone with the Wind, 1939 
Vivien Leigh’s Southern-belle accent was slightly wonky, but the graceful way she wore her antebellum wardrobe was impeccable. The scene in which Mammy harnesses Scarlett’s waist down to 18in inspired generations of sadistic fashion designers but, fiddle-dee-dee, we can’t help loving those Walter Plunkett designed ballgowns. Nor could the women of 1939 — the film launched numerous GWTW-inspired collections in stores across the world and continues to cast a crinolined shadow on the catwalks. Watch the trailer here

10 The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999 
Marge Sherwood has that Fifties summer thing down pat. The way she tied her crisp white blouses at the navel to reveal more than a peek of a gingham or polka-dot bikini top beneath, was nonchalant and knowing. Her printed A-line skirts bounced along the cobbled street looking wholesome and pretty and they always matched the colour of Italian skies. When she needed to, Sherwood became the vamp — beautifully, courtesy of Hollywood costume maestro Ann Roth.

Some other cinematic fashion gems
11 Pulp Fiction, 1994
Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, was the wife of mob kingpin Marsellus. She liked to dance, have a cigarette between her fingers and drink a vanilla shake. Her look was modelled on the Danish actress Anna Karina, who possessed a similar sultriness and dark bob. What Karina didn’t have was Chanel’s Rouge Noir nail varnish. When women saw Wallace’s short dark nails, a new trend was born. The fact that it became almost impossible to find the famous hue, only added to the hysteria. Watch the trailer here

12 Top Hat, 1935
Ginger Rogers – what a gal. Not only could she dance, but unlike many of her Hollywood peers she wore clothes beautifully. The jodhpur ensemble near the start still looks sexy today. Thank goodness our heroine stood her ground when Fred Astaire kvetched that the feathers on her grand finale frock were moulting all over his tux (moral:never take fashion advice from a man wearing more make-up than you). Fred later sent her a gold feather in acknowledgment.

13 Funny Face, 1957
Yes, yes, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – we know. The way she wears that little black dress. And the way she transforms even George Peppard into a must-have accessory. But as well as featuring great fashion, Funny Face is about fashion, too – Maggie Prescott is Diana Vreeland to Dick Avery’s Cecil Beaton. Hepburn, meanwhile, is perfect. Watch the trailer here

14 To Catch A Thief, 1955
Choosing Grace Kelly’s best fashion film is a toughie. But To Catch a Thief just pips High Society for us. Because while both use Kelly as lifestyle wish fulfilment fodder via fashion, To Catch a Thief does it with Cary Grant on the French Riviera. Kelly’s hot-to-trot heiress Frances toys with John Robie The Cat in some peerless beachwear – particularly the black and white hat and swimming costume combo – and her taffeta ballroom confection for the final cat-catch scene steal the show. Watch the trailer here

15 The Matrix, 1999
Is it a neo-existential parable, a searing indictment of on humanity’s voracious consumption of natural resources, or an entertaining yet jumped up inverted pyramid of piffle (cheers, Boris)? Whatever you think, the Matrix defined turn of the millennium wannabe futurism. This translated into a distressing vogue for wraparound sunglasses and tight leather. And remember those mobile phones? Now Versace’s winter 2010 mens collection is channelling the Trinity/Neo vibe afresh. Watch the trailer here

16 A Single Man, 2009
Last year’s most stylish looking film bar none. But how could a film set at the dawn of the Kennedy era, directed, produced and micro designed by Tom Ford (control freak moi?) not be? In no particular order, we loved: Colin Firth’s oversized spectacles, Julieanne More’s monochrome house-dress, Nicholas Hoult’s fluffy jumper (big improvement on his matted Peruvian hat in About A Boy), Matthew Goode’s chinos…what do you mean plot? Watch the trailer here

17 The Thomas Crown Affair, 1999
A rare example of a remake that betters the original, even if the original starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway .In the dog days of the 90s, the combination of a 40 something protagonist (Rene Russo) and an unashamedly upscale wardrobe (courtesy of Michael Kors) seemed fresh and seductive, even if the see through lace dress she wore now looks like something Kerry Katona would plump for. Watch the trailer here

18 The World of Suzie Wong, 1960
Superficially there is much that is dodgy about this – young, beautiful Chinese hooker gets “rescued” by an ancient looking William Holden. In fact, Holden was a mere 42 :20 years old than the actress playing Susie but not insurmountable. That actress by the way, was the luminous Nancy Kwan in her first starring role in a western move. She charmed. So did her cheong-sams which put ethnic fashion firmly was on Hollywood ’s map.

19 Zoolander, 2001
Yes, Milla Jovovich in PVC as Katinka Ingabogovinanana, the model-turned-brainwasher henchwoman of Mugatu. But Zoolander’s fashion credentials are thanks less to the threads worn by its characters than the profound truths about fashion that they speak. From foamy lattes to the true meaning of bulimic, everything you need to know about the ‘industry’ is in this film. God knows why they’re making a sequel. Watch the trailer here

20 Grey Gardens, 1975
The 2009 HBO feature film scored a golden globe for Drew Barrymore, as the eccentric, patrician Little Edie Beale, a cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. But it was the original documentary, showing Little Edie and her equally whacky mother Big Edie in the decaying squalor of their Hamptons mansion that kicked started the Grey Gardens cult , spawning many a fashion accolyte, including the Olsen twins. Broke they may have been but those Beales were dressing electic when John Galliano was still in short-trousers. Watch the trailer here

21 The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001
Gwyneth was peerlessly preppy in the Talented Mr Ripley but here, well, here she was interesting. Margot Tenenbaum is a panda-eyed, chain-smoking child prodigy who is both spectacularly insecure and breathtakingly attired. In her ragged furs and that Lacoste tennis tress Margot is trapped, but extremely gracefully so, in a fictional version of Grey Gardens . Great soundtrack too.

22 Priceless, 2006
Audrey Tatou’s gold-digger makes a terrible error and sleeps with Gad Elmaleh’s impoverished hotel worker. He falls for her, and she punishes him for it by screwing him and his credit card for gifts from Azaro, Chanel, the lot - everything lovely she can get her hands on. Then Elmaleh becomes a toy boy himself – with a big watch – and the tables start to turn. Tatou is perhaps the only actress worthy of the Coco Avant Chanel role, for which she is rightly feted. In Priceless, she plays a 21st century siren with devastating effect. Watch the trailer here

23 The Devil Wears Prada, 2006
Better than the vacuous book on which it was based, the clothes in this film were horrible: glossy posse dressing as imagined by a personal shopper in a suburban American mall. But it deserves its place in this pantheon for Meryl Streep’s impassioned speech about the power of cerulean “you think you’re immune from fashion but that horrible sweater you’re wearing is blue because two years ago designers decided blue was the trend”. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s the closes the fashion industry has to a Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man moment. Watch the trailer here

24 Avatar, 2009
Meryl Streep may talk up cerulean in The Devil Wears Prada but it’s the Pandorans who are contemporary cinema’s greatest exponents of lush, technicolour tones – with a lot of blue. James’ Cameron’s green screen vistas are a lush junglescape worthy of Rousseau. Or Erdem. Watch the trailer here

25 Mildred Pierce, 1945
A fable of female empowerment that predated feminism, Joan Crawford’s Mildred dumped her slut husband and grew into herself. She also grew into some spectacular shoulder pads, up-combed hairstyles and heavy, heavy lipstick – a new type of armour for a new type of independent(ish) woman.

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