Saturday, 25 August 2012

Fashion Designers on Film

Costume designers are responsible to create believable characters in different time periods for the film industry. It is a challenging career without much limelight and acknowledgement but their role is crucial. Sometimes fashion designers venture into this territory such as Miuccia Prada, who designed the costumes for Baz Luhrmann's big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald "The Great Gatsby." 

The Great Gatsby, Miuccia Prada
The Great Gatsby (2013) by Miuccia Prada

We have to wait until next summer to watch this promising film but it is likely that it will influence the fashion industry. She had to think beyond her style to  create these costumes. It is a challenging task for a designer who usually has the freedom to design for an ideal woman.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Vivienne Westwood
Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex in the City (2008) by Vivienne Westwood

This fantasy woman is not just a vision but an interpretation of marketing reports and sales figures. The major difficulty is to give free reign to creativity whilst achieving a balance in terms of business demands. But even with the pressure to stay on top of a highly volatile field, there is much room for manoeuvre.

Milla Jovovich and Jean Paul Gaultier
Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element (1997) by Jean Paul Gaultier

In film, fantasy and reality are also at play but it is far more restrictive. The costume designer has to create a resemblance of real people who do not really exist. They have emerged within a writer's imagination and what they wear on film builds up their character and contribute to the whole narrative.

Breakfast at Tiffany's, Hubert de Givenchy
Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) by Hubert de Givenchy

A talented fashion designer may not necessarily be able to create costumes but some of them have managed to do so. One of the most memorable and iconic collaboration is Breakfast at Tiffany's with costumes designed by Hubert de Givenchy.

Marlene Dietrich and Christian Dior
Marlene Dietrich in Stage Fright (1950) by Christian Dior

But the relationship between fashion and film goes back a long way, Coco Chanel was flying to Hollywood twice a year in the early 1930s to design costumes for MGM stars. The red carpet would not be the same without fashion designers but are they as fascinating on screen? This is open to interpretation. 

Gloria Swanson and Coco Chanel
Gloria Swanson in Tonight or Never (1931) by Coco Chanel

Other related blog posts: 
Schiaparelli and Prada at MET
Stars in Dior
Period Style: Art Deco
V&A Unveils Hollywood Exhibition

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