Friday, January 18, 2013

Fashion In Film: The Power of Fashion

All of my fashion influences come from movies and television, starting at a young age. As a child, I eagerly watched all the black and white films on channel 20 and as I aged became addicted to the Technicolor musicals. Here are the most significant influences that are still relevant to my style today.

1. Princess Charmain/Charming (Anna Maria Alberghetti) in CinderFella (1960), costumes by Edith Head.

The princess meets Cinderfella (Jerry Lewis) at a ball where she wears a white embroidered satin dress with a slim tapered skirt and a full over-skirt* that she holds away from her body when she dances. I fell in love with this dress long before seeing the similar embroidered ball gown in the movie Sabrina.

When trying to convince Fella that she loves him despite being a princess, she reduces her elegant red fur-trimmed dress bit by bit by ripping off the fur sleeves, her elegant headband, taking her hair down and snapping off the heels to her shoes so they become flats. All to show him, "But I'm a girl, a real girl..."

2. Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) in Funny Face (1957), costumes by Edith Head and Givenchy.

"Take the picture, take the picture!" If you've seen the movie, you know the scene. Whenever I see a grand staircase I hear that line in my head. The powerful image of the red velvet dress with the chiffon scarf filling the air and billowing above her as she swiftly crosses down the stairs toward shocked fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) is an amazing moment in my favorite fashion movie.

The wedding dress by Givenchy, of course! The dress beautiful with its bateau neckline, Basque waist, and  skirt made of layers of net and tulle, topped with a delicate cinched balloon veil. This look is so famous that it was copied by actress Molly Ringwald for her first wedding, all the way down to the iconic tied "balloon" veil.

3. Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), costumes by Harald Johnson and Marge Makau.

Nowadays, much shorter pants are mistakenly called Capri pants; however, these slim pants with a hemline one inch above the ankle bone, are in fact, the real Capri or cigarette pants*. These particular looks with a loose pullover sweater or casual shirt or blouse worn with black flats is my idea of comfy clothing; no jeans or even sweatpants can beat them.

4. Gigi aka Gilberte (Leslie Caron) in Gigi (1958), costumes by Cecil Beaton.

The white draped satin dress with black feather birds perched on the shoulders designed for Gigi's "coming out" party as Gaston Lachaille's (Louis Jourdan) mistress. The dress is easily compared with the black and white "race day" dress Beaton designed for My Fair Lady; however, I feel this one is timeless and could even be worn today.

5. Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisse) in Brigadoon (1954), costumes by Irene Sharaff.

The dress worn in the "Heather on the Hill" musical number with its exaggerated rolled collar, tight waist, lush full skirt, and blazing orange underskirt hidden in pleats that release whenever she turns or lifts her legs while dancing. The dress, dancing, Gene Kelly, and Scotland as the setting made my love for the film a given.

6. Tracy Samantha Lord (Grace Kelly) in High Society (1956), costumes by Helen Rose.

This luscious organza or chiffon confection with sheer jacket was designed by the same woman who would create Kelly's royal wedding gown that same year. I love the garden party nature of this dress, its delicate embroidery, the airy full sleeves, and the short gloves.

7. Frau Maria Rainer (Julie Andrews) in The Sound of Music (1965), costumes by Dorothy Jeakins.

This structurally elegant gown was far more than I expected to see on a nun. Simple and slightly Monastic in design, the otherwise plain Maria was transformed into a beauty in this gown. I also admire how the dress has more of a subtle sheen versus a heavy shine.

8. Louisa May Foster (Shirley MacLaine) in What a Way to Go! (1964), costumes by Edith Head.

The clothing styles in this comedic fantasy film run the gambit from quaint country girl in black and white to French beatnik to art world glamour girl to plush technicolor pink celebrity wife. As the character inherits more and more wealth and the movie progresses the costumes seemingly attempt to top one another in outrageousness.

9. All of the elaborate and artistic garments from the Edwardian age to the early 1930s seen in the British television programs Partners In Crime/Tommy & Tuppence (1983-84) with costumes by Linda Mattock/Penny Lowe and House of Eliott (1991-94) with costumes by James Keast and Joan Wadge.

The 1997 movie Wings of a Dove with its designs by Sandy Powell is included in this group. These programs and film contain all I love about that period in clothing with its dropped waists, coordinating accessories, cloche hats, intricate beading, embroidery, bell-shaped, cap, and Dolman sleeves, elbow-length gloves, bias-cut flounces, and oversize velvet cloaks (much like my own coat).

*In fact, there is an illustration explaining the different lengths of pant in Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.
*The dress could be recreated by using this OOP New Look 6686 wedding gown pattern from the 1980s.


Gail said...

Great post! I agree with all of these, but I'd say my faves are the Laura Petrie look, and the costumes from Tommy and Tuppence.

My own inspiration would also include many of the tweedy looks from the Miss Marple movies.

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Adrienne said...

Very interesting! And thanks for the link on pant lengths...I guess stores must have decided "Capri" pants would sell better than "toreador" pants...haha.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Love this post! There is a lot of inspiration here (and what does it mean that my favorite is the all-pink celebrity wife look. I want that hair.).