Over the years there are films that have given us great fashion viewing, some famously popular and some that have received less acclaim. The following titles are but a few that have offered great outfits, interesting plots and complex protagonists.
Holly Golightly & Paul Varjack
Lets start off with a classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) where Holly Golighlty (Audrey Hepburn) and Paul Varjack (George Peppard) meet when Varjack moves into the same apartment block. The iconic sheath little black Givenchy dress that hugs Hepburn’s slender figure made of Italian satin epitomizes her character. Hepburn was famously a friend of Hubert de Givenchy, however it was Edith Head that assisted with costume support on the movie and had to re-design the dress for screen as the original showed too much leg. The sleeveless floor length evening dress is accompanied by elbow length gloves and a pearl necklace giving a Parisian and feminine feel to the ensemble. Hepburns’ look was juxstaposed by her character being effectively a broke socialite looking for a rich husband to marry with the real Holly in the guitar scene where she sings Moon River wearing blue jeans a grey jumper and a cloth around her head.
The differentiation between Holly dressed up and Holly dressed down is indicative that every woman has a chic evening wear look as well as a more vulnerable casual side to her character.
In comparison Paul Varjack (Peppard) opts for skinny ties and casual navy suits, accessorized with what seems to be a tie pin and the obligatory pocket squares. Varjack is dressed by the married woman he is seeing giving a sense of removal from the items he is wearing as defining him (as is the case with Holly). Varjack occasionally sports a grey jacket or cardigan, which is comparatively modest in spite of his extensive suit collection. Holly goes to great lengths to accessorize with oversized sunglasses, wide-brimmed hat with silk bow.
Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow
Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) in Bonnie & Clyde (1967) was dressed by Theodora Van Runkle who later won an Oscar for her contribution to the film. Bonnie Parker’s (Dunaway) signature beret knitted sweaters accompanied by silk printed scarves set the tone for Bonnie’s individualistic style. Dunaway’s bobbed haircut and beret ignited a fashion trend. The use of tweed jackets and matching midi skirts gave the protagonist a masculine edge as she navigated her unbarred world with her lover Clyde.
Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) rocks double breasted suits, vests and hats. Like Holly Golightly Barros’s preoccupation with dressing up for he bank robberies is reflective of his impoverished beginnings and will to escape his past, however his trademark matchsticks tucked into his hatband gives the impression that the past is inescapable.
A Single Man (2009) directed by Tom Ford, costumes by Arriane Pillips who along with Ford managed to create George (Colin Firth) a number of suits of sixties designs and embellished them with different shapes and details before having them made. George’s immaculate appearance consists of a strict uniform with which to present to the outside world of fresh shirts, sharp suits and polished black leather Oxfords.
In contrast Charley (Julianne Moore) is comparatively a glamorous mess. Her defining outfit is a vintage black and white whatteau dress that is accessorized with a gold bracelet and of course obligatory drink and lit cigarette along with her golden hair in an intricate up do.
Driver (Ryan Gosling) employs a quilted white silk bomber jacket as the protagonists go to whether blood stained or not this piece has become iconic with its androgyny becoming synonymous with male and female wardrobes.
Costume designer Erin Benach fought tirelessly to get the look for the protagonist in keeping with the synthetic 80’s pop soundtrack of Drive.
Johnny and Gheorghe
God’s Own Country (2017): Directed by Francis Lee explores the solitary life of Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and his hired hand Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu). Aside from the furtive romance of the protagonists Gheorghe’s ‘boyfriend jumper’ has been the discussion the length and breadth of the country with people knitting their own jumpers plus thumb holes whether they’re working on a farm or purely for comfort on the weekend. Lee has alluded to the jumper as being from somewhere “like Primark” however the actual origin is unknown.
For those of you (like myself) who aren’t avid knitters please see Gheorghe’s jumper.
Personal Shopper (2016): Directed by Oliver Assayas. Maureen (played by Kristen Stewart) is an American in Paris working as the title describes a personal shopper for Kyra (Nora Waldstätten). Maureen is coincidentally the same size as Kyra and is able to attend her Chanel fittings in the day and pick up her Christian Louboutins. Jürgen Doering was the costume designer for the film worked with contrasting Maureen’s day wear to the glamorous life of her employer, Stewart in real life has had success as a Chanel ambassador for the past two years. Maureen’s daywear of casual jeans, polo shirts and leather jackets are so far removed from her work as a personal shopper that they remove the character from her work and create a disconnect between the protagonist and her allowing a greater focus on Maureen as a medium and her journey into facing the recent death of her twin brother.