If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m more than a little obsessed with films. Regardless of genre, era, director or star – I can usually find something I love or love to hate in most movies. My level of enjoyment from watching films is only eclipsed by my love of talking about those films I have watched. God help you if you casually mention an appreciation of 80s horror films, I can’t be held accountable for the ensuing conversation you will undoubtably be caught in. I apologise in advance.
One of my favorite discussion points is costumes. Costumes can catapult a film from mediocre to out of this world and can sometimes eclipse the actors as stars of the show. So given that I suspect I have mild OCD and a deep passion for ‘top ten’ lists – here is my top ten favorite fashion on film moments.
1. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This iconic outfit is one of my earliest memories of fashion in film. I remember seeing the movie on television and just thinking how stunning Audrey was in her sunglasses, long gloves, pearls and LBD. She embodies class, elegance and timeless beauty. The outfit would not be out of place today, even 50-odd years after the film was released. What more can be said about this work of art? A LBD will never fail – just make sure you get the length and fit right. Cue, French Connection and Witchery all have beautiful timeless pieces with great structure.
2. Kate Winslet in Titanic. I don’t particularly love this movie (sorry Frannie) but I do love Rose’s luxurious and over-the-top wardrobe. She had many stunning outfits in this James Cameron blockbuster, but my absolute favourite is the beaded gown she wore to dinner with Jack and later down to third class. It is the total epitome of her character – expensive, beautiful and just a little bit innocent.
3. Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby. This film has not even been released yet (not even a trailer), but I get so excited every time I see a studio image or a shot from the set. Mulligan is the perfect Daisy and, as with all Luhrmann films (see Moulin Rouge, Australia, Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom) the costumes are epic. His wife Catherine Martin is the production designer on all of his films and has such a great eye for the spectacular. I mean, look at this image. Swoon.
4. Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. OK, this is another film I have to admit to not loving. I adore McAdams’ character Allie and particularly everything she wears, but I find Noah to be weak and unfulfilling as the male lead. If you can (creepily) build a house for a girl, surely you can go to the town where you know she is living and at least attempt to find her, right? Anyway, I could watch this film again and again for Allie’s amazing outfits – I want to own every single one of them. This blue dress is one of my favorites, as is the bathing suit and the first date dress/cardigan combo. The 40s style is so feminine and flattering to the female form and the costume designer on this film can’t be faulted.
5. Keira Knightley in Atonement. The moment Knightley appeared onscreen in this emerald green number, I felt the cinema audience give a collective gasp. It is absolutely breathtaking. In the novel, author Ian McEwan wrote pages and pages on Cecilia choosing her dress for the dinner. He wrote about her final look ‘a mermaid who rose to meet her in her full-length mirror’. I think the film adaptation did that description justice. There have been essays, analyses and even books written about the costuming in this film and with good reason. This beautiful green dress is a character itself.
6. All the lovely ladies in Cry Baby. I have such a soft spot for rockabilly fashion. The women who can pull it off exude such attitude while looking so glamorous and ladylike. Cry Baby is a fun movie and the women get to wear some really amazing looks. Think pin curls, red lips, capris and heels.
7. Everyone in The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson always makes sure his characters are flawlessly dressed, but I think the Tenenbaums officially take the cake as his best dressed creations. Margot with her perfect bob, dark eyeliner, Lacoste dress and fur coat is simply divine and I also love Richie with his headband and polo and Chas in his Adidas tracksuit.
8. The cast of Heathers. This dark late-eighties film is all about scrunchies, structured blazers, plaid and pleated skirts. I see it as a bit of a prelude to Clueless in the fashion sense. Looking at the photo above doesn’t necessarily do this film justice in terms of what an impact the clothes made, but just trust me when I say it was kind of a big deal alright.
9. Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. 70s fashion is currently having its second (or third) resurgence and who better to look to for style inspiration than Miss Penny Lane herself? Kate Hudson was only 21 when she took on this role and her innocent look really worked well against the overt sexuality of this character. That was the whole appeal of Penny Lane right? That and her to-die-for wardrobe of course. I will always picture Hudson in that fur coat with those circular sunglasses and big curls when I think of this film.
10. Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. How could I write a top ten about fashion in film without mentioning Clueless? Show me a girl who didn’t want to dress and be like Cher and I will show you a liar. She is fashion-forward, wealthy and completely superficial, but her preppy look was soon adopted by highschool girls around the world. I was in primary school at the time, but vividly remember teaming white knee-high socks with Mary Janes, a pleated skirt and a vest at any given opportunity. Free dress days were a lot of fun. I may have grown out of my Clueless phase, but I can still re-watch this film and appreciated the time and effort that went into dressing its cast.