Fashion & Film : Through The Ages

There are lots to be said when it comes to fashion statement in the big screen. Wardrobe often becomes a statement that emulates through the ages by inspiring the young and hip to dress exactly like their big screen idols. This enigma is similar in the music industry when the punk and mod scene broke in the UK. And as a sub-culture, films, television series and yes even the music industry has the same powerful impact on youths from way back when to modern-day television generation.

But what are the most significant roles in films and television series that can be considered a powerful fashion statement? Is it the way Audrey Hepburn dressed in her Givenchy for “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” ? or maybe John Travolta and Olivia Newton John timeless leather jacket style in “Grease” or even Gaultier couture that Mila Jovovich wore in the iconic “The Fifth Element” ? These questions brings us to what can be considered the epicentrum of fashion statement in films and television series, we round up films that mattered most throughout the decades in terms of fashion.


During the height of the silent film era, Hollywood has become a gigantic industry that does not only incited major fantastic films, but also helped develop the more progressive fashion senses of the masses through films like “Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde” with John Barrymore as Mr. Hyde that helped ushered in a new era of modern day British aristocrat fashion wardrobes to the big screen with its iconic top hat and bowler hat (for those fans of Chaplin films) and the uber-cool homburg hat that has become more known to be worn by gangsters.


With heavy attention at the arms like butterfly and banjo sleeves, the 1930’s was an era where Hollywood meets Paris most prestigious designers like the works of Elsa Schiaparelli, Lucien Long and Adrian Adolph Greenberg, whose work was most famous for the iconic velvet hat worn tipped over one eye by Greta Garbo in “Romance”, or perhaps his puff-sleeved gown for Joan Crawford in Letty Lynton even inspired Macy’s to mass-produced the gown and went out-of-stock in a matter of days. Not to mention Plunkett’s barbecue dress for Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara was achieved by bringing full skirts worn over crinolines back.


Still influenced heavily by the British aristocracy style the 1940’s sees a more laid-back approach on wardrobes such as Lana Turner’s film “They Won’t Forget” which sees her as the sweater girl, portraying an informal look for young women relying on large breasts pushed up and out by brassieres which continued on to be the trend until the 50’s and was considered one of the most important landmark of major youth fashion.


Considered by many as the “point-of-no-return” for many fashion statements, the 1950’s were filled with the glamorous look of the British aristocracy with touches of plaid skirts and dresses. Not to mention the pencil tubular skirt that was the “it” fashion thing by the mid 50’s. But for men’s fashion, there has never been any film more significant than “The Wild One”, released early on that decade the film help propelled the significance of leather jackets and bring forth the bad-boy image that has never been the norm back then.


The 60’s was not all about LSD and Marijuana you know, the fashion industry back then was also known for its glamorous take on many fashion icons, mainly from film like “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” where we can see Audrey Hepburn’s classy and simple wardrobe and help ushered in the name Givenchy to the modern fashion world.


The era of the flower generations was a powerful time for youths sub-culture, and in this era we owe two major films for their fashion statements, “Annie Hall” that help propelled the infamous androgynous clothing for men and woman and of course “Grease” for its modern take on youth fashion culture that takes us back to the days of leather jackets and knee-high plaid skirts.


Dominated by new wave music and colourful fashion, the 1980’s was not entirely built on accentuating colours and style, but was also a statement to the modern take of gentleman’s clothing as portrayed by Al Pacino in “Scarface” with his blazers and shirts. Or perhaps you are more atoned to how Emilio Esteves made famous the baseball jacket in “The Breakfast Club”? or even Matthew Broderick’s oversized wardrobe on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.


Fashion has grown really strong during the 90’s, and non-casual clothings are all that matters back then. If you remember Kurt Cobain’s flannel t-shirts and torn jeans, that was the music scene contribution. But what about the big screen? For the ladies out there, the image of Alicia Silverstone’s alaia mini-dress and knee-length socks has become an industry standard of rich girl images and believe it or not, even until now, seeing girls with their knee-long socks, still gets us on (no, we’re no perv, just appreciative).


Considered by many to be the revival era in fashion, 2000’s are most luminous for its boot-cut jeans, trucker hat, camp shirt and checkered shirts for modern day hippies. And even though that super cool blazer that Keanu Reeves wore on The Matrix trilogy is different, cool and authentic, movies like Casino Royale with Craig’s buttoned-up suit that mesmerizes both the female and male of the species became more widely known for its classic take on class and elegance. And perhaps that collarless leather jacket that Tom Cruise wore on Mission Impossible II will bring back the bad boy images of the 50’s that were first put forth by “The Wild Ones”.


Slim-fitted clothing and the revival of the austerity era period pieces is the major fashion theme of this decade. Fuelled by rise of ravers subculture, nerd subculture and hipster subculture, the fashion world was taken aback by the thunderous portrayal preppy clothing that can be seen on many flicks. But the one play that went in different direction with all these trend is the infamous television series “Mad Men” with its Italian slim-fit suits for the gentlemen that portrays a different look of the decade’s fashion statement, and opted to go back to the classic look.




Text : gs



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