The relationship between fashion and film has always been a close one. In fact, some of the world’s greatest fashion designers have created many of the key looks, or entire wardrobes, for Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. From Hubert de Givenchy’s LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Miuccia Prada’s work on Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby, here are 10 designers who have successfully costumed movies.
Jean Paul Gautier
Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi thriller, The Fifth Element, developed a cult following in fashion circles thanks to its Jean Paul Gaultier–designed costumes. No stranger to the wardrobe department (having worked with Spanish director Pedro Almodovar on a number of films, including the 1993 comedy, Kika), the French designer was appointed by Besson to create costumes for the four leading characters, which were played by Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker and Gary Oldman. Not one to do things by halves, Gaultier also personally designed all nine hundred costumes worn by the extras. From Jovovich’s bandage-style bodysuit to Chris Tucker’s all-leopard-everything and the futuristic McDonald’s waitstaff, The Fifth Element’s costumes have been hailed ever since.
In 1931, studio mogul Samuel Goldwyn convinced Coco Chanel that she should work in Hollywood. Already a household name, Chanel was given the opportunity to design costumes for MGM (a leading entertainment company) stars, in exchange for US$1 million (around US$75 million today). During the 1930s, Chanel designed costumes for several films including Tonight or Never, The Greeks Had a Word for Them and Last Year in Marienbad. It was during this time that Chanel developed the technique of adjusting or completely remaking costumes specifically for each angle of a scene, in order to get the best out of the shot and the clothes. This practice is still used by designers today.
Giorgio Armani started collaborating with Hollywood and the world of film in 1980. His journey as a costume designer started with him dressing Richard Gere in the movie American Gigolo, which become a classic and has seen designers referencing the all-American aesthetic adopted by Gere’s character, Julian, time and time again. Since then, the designer has worked on a host of films including The Untouchables, Inglourious Basterds, Elysium, Wolf of Wall Street and A Most Violent Year. The Italian fashion designer also gave Batman a Giorgio Armani makeover by creating a series of tailored looks for the comic hero’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne, in The Dark Knight, and its sequel, The Dark Knight Rises.
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Hubert de Givenchy
Together with costume designer Edith Head, Hubert de Givenchy worked on Audrey Hepburn’s entire wardrobe for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In the film’s opening scene, Hepburn’s character, Holly Golightly, nibbles on a pastry and sips coffee while admiring the jewellery on display in the Tiffany & Co window. She’s dressed in a black satin gown, long satin gloves and oversized sunglasses with strands of pearls around her neck. In a single scene, Hepburn and the French fashion designer defined one of fashion’s most iconic garments: the little black dress. It has even been cited as one of the most iconic items of clothing in the history of the twentieth century. The dress itself sold at an auction in 2006 for a staggering £467,200 (which is just under USD$600,000).
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Yves Saint Laurent
For Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour, Yves Saint Laurent created the entire wardrobe for Catherine Deneuve’s character Séverine Serizy, a young bourgeois who finds meaning in her extramarital encounters in a brothel. The film marked the start of a lifelong friendship between Deneuve and Saint Laurent, with the French designer also creating costumes for La Sirène du Mississipi and The Hunger, both of which starred the cinema legend. Saint Laurent’s designs for Belle de Jour were such a success that the shoes worn by Deneuve, part of the brand’s Spring/Summer 1965 collection, gained a cult following and were eventually named after the film.
Indian fashion designer, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, tends to steer clear of costume design citing the lack of control a designer has when working on films. However, that doesn’t mean the designer hasn’t given it a go. In the past, Sabyasachi has been responsible for the costumes on a range of Bollywood movies including Baabul, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, No One Killed Jessica, English Vinglish and Black. The latter of which saw him win a National Film Award for Best Costume Design in 2007. Sabyasachi is currently one of the Associate Designer Members of the Fashion Design Council of India and the youngest board member of the National Museum of Indian Cinema.
In the 2009 film, I Am Love, by Italian film director Luca Guadagnino, Raf Simons (during his tenure at Jil Sander) was tasked with creating the costumes for Tilda Swinton‘s character, Emma Recchi. His designs received such rave reviews that the film’s costume designer, Antonella Cannarozzi, was nominated for an Oscar. During his time at Christian Dior, the Belgian designer went on to create the costumes for another Guadagnino project, Body Art, starring Sigourney Weaver. Then, in 2015, Simons, Guadagnino and Swinton teamed up again for the psychological drama, A Bigger Splash. In the film, everything was custom-made for Swinton’s character, Marianne Lane, by the former furniture designer, except for a sequined jumpsuit, which was a Dior piece that Simons adapted for the movie.
Italian fashion designer, Miuccia Prada, was involved in creating the wardrobes of Romeo and Juliet in Baz Luhrmann’s unique adaptation of the Shakespearean classic. While Catherine Martin (Luhrmann’s wife) was the main costume designer on the film, she enlisted the help of Prada to create two ensembles worn by the star-crossed lovers: Romeo’s navy blue wedding suit and the white dress and wings worn by Juliet at the Capulet masquerade ball. Prada teamed up with Luhrmann and Martin again in 2013 for The Great Gatsby, where she created a total of 40 looks for the film’s two party scenes.
Before taking over at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, who at the time was at the helm of Chloé, designed the costumes for the ’70s French dominatrix film, Maîtresse. The leading role of Ariane, which was played by French actress Bulle Ogier, endured an evening wardrobe of corsets, elbow-length gloves, latex and leather, all of which were elevated to couture standards care of the legendary German designer. However, during the day Ariane’s getup was much more Chanel approved with peter pan collars, pinstripes and pastel-coloured outfits giving off a sweet, girl-next-door vibe.
When Manolo Blahnik received the call from costume designer Milena Canonero, who was working on Sofia Coppola‘s Marie Antoinette, the man responsible for creating the world’s most sought-after shoes dropped everything. Canonero, who won her third Oscar for the motion picture, enlisted Blahnik to design a range of candy coloured shoes fitting for the decadent life of the ill-fated queen. The designer, who spent hours at the V&A Museum studying original 18th-century shoes in Paris as part of his research, ended up creating hundreds of custom-made pairs for the movie, all of which had modern-day twist.
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