Lights, cameras, fashion: Designers reveal their cinematic inspiration
When glamorous star meets beautiful clothing, something magical happens. On the eve of the second Fashion in Film Festival, Rhiannon Harries asks four designers where they find cinematic inspiration
Sunday 11 May 2008
Cinema has always helped to define notions of glamour and style. From Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy (Breakfast at Tiffany's) to Catherine Deneuve in YSL (Belle de Jour), some of the medium's most memorable moments are revered as much for the costumes as for the acting.
And while we may bemoan the current lack of old-fashioned stars, we still look to the screen and the red carpet as attentively as ever for sartorial guidance.
Tomorrow, London's second Fashion in Film Festival kicks off, with the theme "If Looks Could Kill: Cinema's Images of Fashion, Crime and Violence". To mark the event, we asked four top designers to choose the films whose fashions have inspired their own creations. n
John Rocha: Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
One of the all-time great movies on every level. I have no idea why, but I find that men make more of an impact on me in films than women – even very beautiful ones.
I love the film-noir look and Jack Nicholson, as Jake (above), embodies that in this film. He is super- cool and sharp but at the same time it is totally effortless.
It's a combination of his clothes – the suits, the trilby, the sunglasses – and his laid-back attitude that makes him the kind of guy that men aspire to be. Guys want to be cool without appearing to be bothered about trends.
When I design menswear, I always think to myself: what would Jack like from this collection? If I can imagine him in most of it, I know I've done a good job.
I turned my hand to costume design a few years ago when I created the outfits for This Is the Sea, with Richard Harris and Samantha Morton. It's a very different discipline to being a fashion designer, though – you have to rein in your own vision and work to a tight brief. The trickiest thing is working with actors rather than models – they have a lot more to say for themselves about what they will wear.
Philip Treacy: Giulietta degli spiriti' (Juliet of the Spirits, Federico Fellini, 1965)
Fellini's first feature-length colour film is a surreal masterpiece in fashion and film.
I saw it when I was a student and I'll always remember the night scene, where someone walks into a garden and the rose bushes are wrapped in Cellophane.
A lot of hats are worn in this film but Fellini's brilliance ensures they are not peculiarities but important statements for the characters. Most directors are scared of hats, but Fellini knew that they could be a very expressive part of the mise en scène and here they help to create the fantastical temptress Suzy, played by Sandra Milo.
As a hat designer everyone presumes that my favourite film will be My Fair Lady. Cecil Beaton's costumes are superb – but it gets repetitive to hear customers say for the umpteenth time that they want to look like Audrey Hepburn.
Alice Temperley: Mata Hari (George Fitzmaurice, 1931)
I watched this film on holiday in Mexico last year and I knew it had to be the inspiration for our new autumn/winter collection.
Greta Garbo is beautiful as Hari, probably the most notorious spy of the 20th century. It's an unashamedly glamorous piece; the costumes are so decadent. There's lots of gold fabric, dripping jewels and sumptuous fabrics.
Garbo's wardrobe demonstrates Hari's sensuality. She was a classic seductress but also a true eccentric – in one scene she blows kisses to the firing squad.
My collection captures her hard edge by taking dresses in luxurious fabrics and adding thigh-high boots and sharp military-style hats.
Osman Yousefzada: In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar Wai, 2000)
This is just a very beautiful and considered piece of cinema. It centres on a group of migrants from Shanghai who settle in Hong Kong but remain attached to their own culture, differentiating themselves through their clothing: all jewel-coloured cheongsams that represent the 1960s take on traditional Shanghai style. Since this is a very slow-moving film it works on atmosphere and sensuality, and the colours of the clothes are integral to that. The look of the film just sucks you in.
I find it amazing how modern the vintage styles look. The prints wouldn't look out of place on the catwalks at the moment.
From the point of view of my own work, I find it an interesting film because I deal with ethnicity and the relationship between culture and clothing. The way the characters hang on to home through the way they dress has parallels with what I see today on the streets of London – you might be on Brick Lane and see someone in a sari with a modern coat over the top; it's the evolution of traditional clothing.
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