Fashion and Film


Written by Olivia Patt
Photos and illustrations by Paul Smith, Tom Ford, Various
11 Sunday 11th September 2011

Paul Smith's posters for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Both fashion and film are a means of expressing taste, beauty and art; with the notable exceptions of Juicy Couture and Dude, Where’s My Car? Whether it’s a collection influenced by a film, a film about by a designer, or a movie creating a famous fashion moment, the two have gone hand in hand for years.

Designers and actresses have always shared a close relationship. Who better to showcase their designers than these beautiful, waif-like creatures who are constantly in the public eye? Givenchy dressed Audrey Hepburn in eight of her films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and their relationship helped elevate both of their statuses in the public eye. Simlarly, Yves Saint Laurent championed a young, leggy Catherine Deneuve, from the first day he met her on the set of Belle De Jour, even describing her as his “muse”.

Catherine Deneuve, YSL and Paloma Picasso

Then we have the actresses turned designers, often a less fruitful fashion venture. Surprisingly, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s lines, The Row and Elizabeth and James, have proved hugely successful, and the petite fashionistas’ fashion empire is now valued at $1 billion (£630 million). Not too shabby. More often than not though, these gambles fail. Sarah Jessica Parker recently quit as creative director for Halston and Halston Heritage, supposedly due to the fact that she couldn’t juggle being both an actor and working for a huge fashion label. Which seems a little odd to us, as judging by the train wreck that was Did You Meet The Morgans? she only spends 3 to 4 days making her movies. Unsuprisingly, Lindsay Lohan’s collection for Emanuel Ungaro bombed spectacularly, as no one wants to dress like a failed teen star high on crack.

Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch

Actresses should probably stick to just inspiring fashion, rather than creating it. There have been many movie and television moments that have inspired fashion, both haute couture and high street. Audrey Hepburn’s LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Carrie Bradshaw’s Jimmy Choo Obsession, and who could forget Marilyn’s white magic moment in The Seven Year Itch, inspiring girls everywhere to don floaty dresses and run around in search of ventilation grates. Perhaps one of the most famous moments was Diane Keaton’s turn as the lively Annie in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Annie was all about mannish blazer and oversized shirts, and inspired many women a generation of to follow in her fashion footsteps. The best bit? The clothes and style were all Keaton’s own.

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

As Givenchy and YSL did in the 1960s, fashion designers have often worked as costume designers on films, lending their own personal touch – the quintessential American designer Ralph Lauren dressing the actors in The Great Gatsby, or Armani adding a sharp, suited edge to gangster films The Untouchables and The Italian Job. However, a few years ago saw the most complete designer – film collaborative effort yet, with Tom Ford directing A Single Man. Although it was described by one critic as a “100-minute commercial for men’s cologne: Bereavement by Dior”, the stylish film was generally accepted as an example of the good that can happen when fashion and film meet.

Tom Ford directing Colin Firth in A Single Man.

Many other designers have cottoned on to the potential of film in fashion, and designers such as Prada, Dior and Louis Vuitton now advertise their brands using short films. Who could forget Kate Moss writhing around on a bed for Agent Provocateur? Conversely, who is still trying to forget Baz Luhrman’s regurgitated, condensed version of Moulin Rouge for Chanel? The world definitely didn’t need another three minutes’ footage of Nicole Kidman’s tightened face trying to form expression. All that glitters is not necessarily cinematic gold.

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  • Guest: thenastyshow
    Tue 13 - Sep - 2011, 06:26
    'and going for £100 a pop. Seems a little steep from a film that hasn’t even been released yet, but they are for charity.' Er, that's cheap for a print. Any idea how much work went into designing those posters? Probably a bit more than the 45 minutes you spent on tumblr and wikipedia 'researching' this flat and vapid article.