Thursday, 22 September 2011

A (very) brief intro into the influence of film upon fashion

In an effort to merge my interests onto the one blog, I'm reposting some older pieces I've written for my blog Fashion in Film. Apologies if you're read this before.

My favourite era is what film historians call "The Golden Age", which is, roughly, the period between 1920s and 1960s. No one can put an exact date on the moment on when it started and stopped being "golden" but it's thought that it started from the first feature-length talkie, The Jazz Singer (1927), and ended when independent films more or less killed off the studios in the 1960s.

What I'd like to do is to research the costume design of a particular film and post my observations and any sketches and film stills/screenshots I can find. Although I'll mostly post about films between the 20s and 60s, I may deviate at points to do a write up on the design of a contemporary film I find particularly interesting (read: pretty) such as Atonement and the like. I also plan to do some special articles about the style of a particular actress, such as Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, etc, or on a particular item of clothing, e.g. Grace Kelly's wedding dress. Where possible, I'd like to try and find links with the contemporary fashion industry and show how Hollywood styles remain current.

Sometimes I think it's easy to forget the influence that fashion in film has upon the fashion industry. Just two examples which spring to mind are Adrian's dress for Joan Crawford in Betty Lynton which led to a mass of knock-offs to feed the cinema-going lovelies demand for poofy shouldered dresses.

Joan Crawford in the famous Adrian gown, followed by a 2009 Givenchy gown. 

In the 60s, Bonnie & Clyde led to a whole generation looking like beret wearing outlaws.... or Warren Beatty in cheap suits.

Clockwise: Emporio Armani 2009/ Elle magazine feature/ A Harpers Bazaar March 2010 editorial, all inspired by the 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde.

Today, Fashion Designers are still influenced by film history. There's a certain glamour and timeless style which you can't achieve without referencing Classic Hollywood. Good and fairly recent examples are Dior SS 2010 collection which was influenced by Lauren Bacall and the French classic, Hôtel du Nord (1938) and had a definite Film Noir feel to it:

Dior SS 2010 and its inspiration: Lauren Bacall and Arletty

Dior designer, John Galliano, when describing the themes of the collection said:

[Lauren Bacall]...was a great Dior client; there are amazing photos of her in the salon with Bogart. It was that and Arletty in Hôtel du Nord," he said. That central character—a provocative, smoldering femme fatale with a side-parted, over-one-eye hairdo and red lips—gave him free reign to script a wardrobe narrative. It started with abbreviated wartime trenchcoats, flipped through silver lamé dresses, arrived at a sequence in which the heroine is seen in her scanties, and then followed her out to make a drop-dead entrance in some nightclub or other.

Another obvious example is Alexander McQueen's 2005 The Man Who Knew Too Much collection which was inspired by Hitchcock heroines.

Alexander McQueen's AW '05 Hitchcockian collection

A selection of lovely Hitchcock heroines (mostly Kim Novak because I'm biased).

I'm currently working on my first proper article and although there might be some time between posts, because the research will probably take me some time, I hope that, when I do post, you'll find it interesting. Please feel free to contact me (my info in in the sidebar or leave a comment) if you have any suggestions, information, particularly photography, sketches, etc, of a film you'd like to see covered. I'll do my best.


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Very attractive blog and fabulous dresses collection. Really i like it.

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