Film and television have been creating fashion moments for decades.
From defining garments such as Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Normal People’s Connell’s silver chain which landed a cult following.
Regardless what the moment may be, it’s the costume that refines one’s character, contextualises the settings and pushes the narrative whether it be villain, hero or Queen Bee from the Upper East Side.
Through the art of costume design, viewers are able to experience historical eras as if they were there and fall into complete adoration for fictional style icons such as Fran Fine or Miranda Priestly.
One of the other great aspects of fashion in film is that it serves as a visual time capsule which we can refer back to and see how we used to dress (see any John Hughes films), what were the social norms, but also revisit moments in our lives that are encapsulated in characters and their styles.
I have revisited some of my favourite moments in film in recent and older times and explain why they spark joy.
- Edie Sedgwick, Factory Girl – 2006
The movie is based on the rise and fall of the underground film star and socialite Edie Sedgwick and touches on her toxic relationship with Andy Warhol. After Edie and Andy’s lustful introduction, Edie became Andy’s muse and that’s when her signature style was born. Sedgwick was a regular at The Factory, Warhol’s New York Studio known to host soirees for the artistic elite. Sedgwick’s style was very much depictive of her chaotic yet glamorous lifestyle.
I remember watching this movie at 13 or 14 and at the time I was really struggling with what my personal style was and experimenting with fashion without wanting to dress like everyone else. I just loved Edie’s sense of adventure, courage, extravagance and yet her style was always so simply chic.
Sedgwick’s style made her an it-girl during an era full of it-girls and we were still seeing references and tributes to her. What I really took from this film at the time, was to dress in whatever makes you happy and expresses your personality regardless whether it’s trending. Build your own brand.
Juliette Paxton, Bend It Like Beckham – 2002
When Bend It Like Beckham hit the screens it was such a celebratory moment for us South Indian babes, it was so heartening to finally see a relatable lead in film. However, it wasn’t Jesminda’s style that caught my attention; it was in fact her best friend’s Jules. At the time the movie came out, I was incredibly sporty playing tennis, basketball and was really competitive in athletics (I was age champion 2 years consecutively, not bragging though). Jules’s coolness was definitely elevated by her style in the film, she was incredibly fit and talented on the field and her style made her a sultry sporty spice.
- Elvira Hancock, Scarface – 1970
Set in the disco era, Elvira’s character paved the path of sultriness. Scarface is a long movie, close to 3hrs however as soon as Michelle Pfeiffer came on screen wearing the iconic plunging teal gown with the thigh high split, I was hooked. Costume designer Patricia Norris worked with Pfeiffer’s slender frame to embody Elvira’s character of a lonely, drug addicted and entitled trophy wife.
Although her character didn’t evoke the happiest emotions, her style really resonated because she always seemed so effortlessly elegant and alluring wherever she was. From moments when she was at home running errands in silk loungewear to when she was tanning in her ultra-sophisticated jungle green one-piece. Elvie Hancock will always be one of the biggest on-screen’s suavest characters and seductress.
- Annie Hall, Annie Hall – 1997
Diane Keaton can do no wrong. I loved her as Kay Corleone (nee Adams) in The Godfather series and as Annie MacDuggan Paradis in The First Wives Club however my ultimate favourite is her in Woody Allen’s film, Annie Hall.
The film is one the greatest romantic comedies that also stars Allen who is struggling to understand what went wrong following the break-up with the film’s eponymous lead. Keaton’s character is smart, creative, intelligent and through the course of the movie you see her become more confident, self-assured and independent.
I grew attached to Annie Hall’s style as it was a mixture of femininity, tom-boyish silhouettes and scruffy thrown together looks that I still see influencing fashion.
Her character for me was symbolic as I felt it encouraged me more to mix with fashion and look for neutral pieces that I could wear time after time as opposed to purchasing in-fashion pieces. I remember I watched this for the first time during high school and it was after that, I got into thrifting and making my own clothes. I also recall stealing my brother’s oversized t-shirts and cutting-up my dad’s old business shirts to add a point of difference to my look. Sheesh.
Marianne Lane, A Bigger Splash – 2015
Lastly, is a more recent love by small film director extraordinaire Luca Guadagnino, A Bigger Splash.
Set on a Sicilian island, the movie features ex-rockstar Tilda Swinton and her boyfriend who seek to have a private retreat whilst Swinton is recovering from surgery in which she had lost her voice. Then, unexpectedly they are visited by Swinton’s former flame and his seductive daughter taking the viewers on an interesting ride.
The movie is sharp and thrilling which sees Marianne Lane played by Swinton as captivating as ever. Whilst sporting a to-die-for wardrobe designed by Raf Simmons (Dior era) and Giulia Peirsanti, Swinton barely speaks in the whole movie!
The movie is quite minimal which further elevates Marianne Lane and her presence, although the character rarely says anything her costumes really speak for her and convey her past and present. She’s a star and global sensation, so naturally she’s overdressed and radiates confidence. I loved her classy European style and her effortless and carefree demeanour. This is the wardrobe and style I intend to adopt when I retire somewhere in South Italy.
So, in summary those are some of my favourite fashion moments in film and why they and will continuously spark joy. What are yours, are they as cringely sentimental as mine?
Other honourable mentions: Carrie Bradshaw in Sex In The City, Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Lizzie McGuire in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction, Charlotte in Single Man and everyone in Mean Girls.