Movies & shakers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am


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FILMS INFLUENCE fashion - whether you're layering plaid shirts on top of tight T's Breakfast Club-style, donning berets like Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde or clearing bars in your white-suited ode to Saturday Night Fever, we all at one time or another pick up on the silver-screen's sartorial allure.

One only needs to look at the fashion runways, where critical or commercial consensus means little to designers: worldwide blockbusters such as Avatar and beautifully costumed flops such as Marie Antoinette strut equally down the runway, the influence of both films acknowledged in recent campaigns by designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs. But pre-'60s, that was rarely the case.

'For a long time and probably still now to some extent, directors did not appreciate fashion,' says Diane Pernet, director of the film festival, A Shaded View on Fashion Film. 'Most were worried that the fashion would take away from the impact of their film. But fashion supports the characters and makes the film that much stronger.'

Would Annie Hall hold up without Diane Keaton's 'Annie Hall look'? North by Northwest without Cary Grant's sleek suit? Or even something as mainstream as The Matrix without its millennial tight leather trench coats and wraparound sunglasses?

Be it instant fashion classics or re-appreciated retro revivals, many films have set off fashion fads. Some of the most major were that of the '60s French New Wave - Jean Seberg's understated ballet-slippers-and-pegged-pants style in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless in turn led to Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and their ragged band of fashion-forward Factory followers.

Pernet regards Blow-Up, Michelangelo Antonioni's era-defining art-house picture, as being the ultimate fashion-influencing film. And it's not hard to see why: its modish dresses and fashion photographer plot (based on real-life snapper David Bailey) all played a large part in shaping swinging '60s culture. Not to mention a cameo by Jane Birkin of Birkin bag fame, whose bizarre scene played an influence on American Apparel's infamous, semi-naked ad campaigns.

These days, it's harder to pare fashion's influence down to a single film - arguably the most influential in recent years have been the works of Wes Anderson, particularly his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums. During its initial release, Gwyneth Paltrow's character became an instant style icon for her tattered fur coat and preppy Lacoste tennis dresses, but the recent '60s revival has seen her brother Richie's look come to the forefront - his camel sportscoat, vintage plastic aviators and sleek penny loafers are all requisites for aspiring hipsters.

The big-screen influence on modern casual fashion is made clear by actress and fashion muse Chlo?Sevigny, a proponent of the subtle, utilitarian look and one of the first to take inspiration from Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho: 'It's hard to do contemporary and he does it so well in those two films,' she says.

Both films overlap in their subtle sense of style, the two leads in particular (Matt Dillon and River Phoenix) sporting rugged, vintage blends of leather jackets, canvas coats, argyle v-neck's, brightly coloured chinos, and plaid and denim work shirts - all heavy influences on the modern-day, Uniqlo-like casual look.

Not every film regarded as being an influence had a completely independent sense of style - some got by with a little help from fashionista friends. Quentin Tarantino's skinny-tied gangster suits (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction) were the work of Agnes B. and Giorgio Armani took top costume billing on '80s sartorial classics American Gigolo and The Untouchables.

But for all those out there citing Candace Bushnell as another example, there's a reason we didn't include the Sex and the City trend. Please, for the love of God, don't be influenced by Carrie Bradshaw.

Image makers

There are films that influence fashion, and then there are films about fashion...

Who Are You, Polly MaGgoo? (1966)

Lampooning the endless praise showered on the fashion world, the French film attacked egotistical models and pretentious critics.

Unzipped (1995)

Following designer Isaac Mizrahi before his fall '94 collection, this documentary offers a glimpse into a creative fashion mind.


Ben Stiller's side-splitting film of the world's greatest male model is filled with endless digs at the industry.