From Catwalk to Celluloid
One of Hubert de Givenchy's designs for Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
When Edith Head (the real inspiration for The Incredibles’ Edna Mode - seriously have a look at her picture) won the Best Costume Oscar for Sabrina in 1954 there was uproar in the fashion world. Not because the clothes weren’t up to scratch – on the contrary, Audrey Heburn was decked out in the most exquisite and elegant of couture gowns – but because Head only designed the drab outfits Hepburn’s character wore before she goes off to Paris. The memorable wardrobe she sports afterwards, the pieces that really shone in the film, were the work of Hubert de Givenchy.
Givenchy was Hepburn’s favourite designer off-screen so he was well placed to make the most of her gamine charms off it, and would continue to dress her in other movies. He also set the precedent for a trend that endures to this day – celebrated fashion designers creating the costumes for big Hollywood productions. Coco Chanel had been among the first to try this, lured over by a big pay day, but she found the American film industry crass and tacky and fled back to France.
Catherine Deneuve wearing Yves Saint Laurent's designs in Belle du Jour
Her fellow Parisian Givenchy however, proved that by matching the designer with the right star and story, it could be a huge success. Some twenty years later Yves Saint Laurent made a style icon out of Catherine Deneuve by dressing her in 1967’s Belle du Jour, whilst on the flip side, the charm of Richard Gere and the success of American Gigolo in 1980 cemented Giorgio Armani as the go-to for slick Italian tailoring.
Richard Gere in Armani pieces in American Gigolor
Today, with most of the major labels boasting successful actresses amongst their spokesmodels and Hollywood’s starlets making up a substantial portion of Fashion Week’s front row, the two industries are closer than ever. So naturally some of the most stylish celluloid ensembles boast a big-name designer behind them, and we thought we’d round up a few of our recent favourites…
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton in The Great Gatsby
The Queen of intelligent fashion dipped a toe in the cinematic water in 1996 when she designed a wedding suit for Leonardo DiCaprio’s brooding tragic hero in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, but we won’t really see her make her mark on the big screen until next year, when Luhrmann’s much anticipated adaptation of The Great Gatsby is released. Prada re-worked 40 dresses from the label’s archives to be worn by the women (including Carey Mulligan’s Daisy Buchannan) in the film, saying ‘when I worked on the costumes, I realised how many pieces became really Twenties with a little intervention and another point of view.’
Leonardo DiCaprio (in a Prada jacket) and Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet
Jean Paul Gaultier
Milla Jovovich in a famous Jean-Paul Gaultier costume in The Fifth Element
One of the most prolific designer/costume designers, fashion’s enfant terrible has spanned across many film genres, from Pedro Almodóvar’s Kika to Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. But Gaultier's most famous work was for Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi masterpiece The Fifth Element, in which he dressed leading lady Milla Jovovich (playing a dystopian-future dwelling supreme being) in a serious of space-age bandage creations. ‘I want the best and that is Jean Paul’ said Besson at the time ‘he knows the colour, he knows the flavour of New York.’
Helen Mirren in The Cook,The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
A still from Tom Ford's directorial debut A Single Man
As devotees of the man who sexed up Gucci know, Tom Ford doesn’t do things by halves. Instead of merely designing some costumes for a film, he directed an entire one himself, the award-winning, Colin Firth starring A Single Man. In addition to being the auteur, Ford also collaborated with costume designer Arianne Phillips on the characters wardrobes. More recently he has taken a more traditional fashion foray into film, supplying Daniel Craig’s incarnation of James Bond with his sharp suits, custom designed to hold up in all those explosive action scenes.
Daniel Craig as James Bond in one of his Tom Ford suits
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
The dreamy American label’s Mulleavy sisters suffered a similar fate to Givenchy when they created the intricate dance costumes for hit film Black Swan in 2010 – though Rodarte was behind Natalie Portman’s hauntingly beautiful stage dresses (easily the movie’s most memorable pieces), as the secondary credited costume designers they were not eligible for Oscar nominations and the accolade went instead to the primary costume designer. Still, the duo made forty outfits for Black Swan, kitting out the entire dance corps, and the work hasn’t put them off – this year they signed up to create the wardrobe for the LA Philharmonic’s production of Don Giovanni.
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Tilda Swinton in I Am Love
Simons, current industry darling after his spectacular debut at Christian Dior, probably has his hands more than full with the legendary French house’s couture, ready-to-wear, accessories and god knows how many other lines. But back when he was still at Jil Sander, the Belgian designer took on the job of dressing alternative style icon Tilda Swinton for her role in Italian family drama I Am Love. A chilly Russian aristocrat who becomes an adulteress, Simons put her in sleek sheath dresses and his trademark elegant minimalism, punctuated by intense, romantic colours.
Tilda Swinton in I Am Love