25th March 2010
Given the glamorous nature of both industries, it’s pretty much a given that the worlds of Fashion and Film were always destined to collide. And they’ve spent the past eighty years or so doing just that.
Usually this partnership sticks to the usual design houses putting starlets in their campaigns and kitting them out on the red carpet format, but occasionally along comes a designer who goes that bit further and does the costumes for a film (and once in a blue moon along comes Tom Ford who goes the whole hog and makes an entire film himself). It’s not a new concept, it’s been a successful venture ever since Givenchy created Audrey Hepburn’s post-Paris wardrobe in 1954’s Sabrina. But still we were surprised when we found out that Jil Sander’s Raf Simons was on costume duty for new Italian film Lo Sono L’amore (or I Am Love in English).
It just didn’t seem like the elusive Belgian’s style. But then, Lo Sono L’amore is not exactly your average rom-com.
Starring style maverick Tilda Swinton (who onscreen, speaks fluent Italian with a Russian accent no less), it’s a visually lush epic, chronicling the downfall of an aristocratic Italian family destroyed by the forces of passion and unconditional love.
That the reviews of the film have tended to focus on its staggering aesthetic beauty rather than all this drama says something about the sets, locations and costumes. The Jil Sander creatives (Simons and his team) were responsible for the clothes of Swinton’s character, Emma Recchi, the film’s heroine and the Russian born wife of one of the family heirs, who embarks on an affair with her son’s friend and business partner. Naturally she does so looking fabulously put-together and chic, Simons and co having put together a wardrobe of simple yet stylish separates that exude class and stay true to his reputation for a restrained aesthetic.
As Swinton herself said of the decision to hire the Jil Sander team, ‘(they) understood perfectly from the very outset that what we were looking for was an extremely subtle dialogue within the film with Emma’s wardrobe.'
And whilst usually the audience’s relationship with the film’s wardrobe ends when the credits roll, this time anyone who falls in love with Emma’s star costume, a little red dress, can simply log on to the Jil Sander website and buy it.
With Rodarte’s Mulleavy sisters jumping on the bandwagon, signing up to dress Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman in next year’s ballet themed The Black Swan, we were reminded that film has provided us with some of our fondest fashion moment through the years, here’s a few of our other favourite movie/designer collaborations.
The Great Gatsby
Ralph Lauren sparked a nationwide craze for 1920’s inspired attire when his dreamy, ethereal designs appeared in the 1974 film adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s jazz-age masterpiece. Daisy (Mia Farrow) and Gatsby (Robert Redford) played out their ill-fated romance in ornate, delicate flapper dresses with wide brimmed hats and long beads, and beautifully crafted three piece suits respectively, in a palette of whites and pastels that contrasted with the story’s sense of doom.
With a design aesthetic once described by the late Gianni Versace as ‘elegance without excess’ Giorgio Armani’s costumes for American Gigolo were the deliciously understated alternative to the overload of Saturday Night Fever and its disco craze. Armani’s slick, relaxed suits in taupes and caramels played a major role in the movie, as part of the luxury lifestyle that Richard Gere’s urban peacock funded by moonlighting as a male prostitute.
The Fifth Element
Fashion tends to favour big period dramas rather than geek-friendly science-fiction, but if anyone were a plausible candidate for tackling the comic book genre it’s France’s enfant-terrible Jean Paul Gaultier. His borderline-bondage costumes became one of the most memorable things about the action-packed blockbuster, and the white-bandage dress sported by former supermodel Milla Jovovich as perfect being Leeloo has become iconic to many an enamored fan-boy.
Coco Before Chanel
Okay, in a biopic about one of the greatest fashion icons of all time, it’s hardly shocking that the costumes were good, but the clothes worn by Audrey Tautou in the tale of Gabrielle Chanel’s rise to design star were seriously breathtaking. From the simple Breton stripes and mannish trousers, to her immaculately cut little black dress amongst a sea of frou-frou gowns, the film reminded us how much the industry owes to the French legend. And whilst technically, the film’s costumier was movie veteran Catherine Leterrier, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld was always on hand to make sure everything was in keeping with the brand’s vision.