Monday, December 20, 2010


This concludes Fashion & Film for Parsons Paris, Fall 2010

Pierrot le fou, 1965

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

Sophia Coppola's first wide release film was Virgin Suicides (1999). The costumes were designed by Nancy Steiner. The film is set in Detroit in the 1970's and was written in the 1990's and filmed in Toronto.

Above major stylistic influences for the film included Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), the polaroid aesthetic of the 1970's, and right Juergen Teller's sepia toned photo style.

Above and below small floral motifs on sundresses signify innocence.

The color palette alternates between blushing pinks and pastels above to the more standard school uniform colors.

Above Trip Fontaine the male lead. Below the iconic shot from The Graduate is referenced down to the drink in the left hand.

The other boys in the film are made similar through school uniforms and below for the school dance. The girls wear understated, high wasted, light colored floral dresses.

The Virgin Suicides is based on the book by Jeffrey Eugenides. There are many changes from the original text such as the stylistic aspects to the dance. The book suggests that Lux and Trip above wear large crowns and ribbons and actually question the whole pageantry of the event. Coppola and costume designer Steiner chose to minimize the looks which would have been closer to the more natural ease of the mid 70's.

Coppola and Stein's ability to capture adolescent innocence is best seen in the interior bedroom shots where the girls lounge in pajamas. Below in Coppola's latest Somewhere, Stacey Battat chose to dress the young Cleo character in similar pastels for both casual and evening looks.

Fashion on Film

Chanel was one of the first designers to get involved in film. Above left her work on Tonight or Never, 1930 and right L'année dernière à Marienbad, 1961. Below her last film work was Boccaccio 72, 1962.

Fashion has been the focus of popular films such as Qui êtes vous, Polly Maggoo?, Blow Up, Clueless, Zoolander, Bruno and Coco Before Chanel.

Mahogany (1975) which starred Diana Ross who also served as costume designer.

Films about models tend to paint a dark picture. Below Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970)and Lipstick (1976).

Gia (1998) focused on the downfall of model Gia Carangi who rose to fame in the late 70's and dies of AIDS.

Above Frames from the Edge (1989) documented photographer Helmut Newton. Below Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter (1994) was a satiric look at the fashion industry.

Until recently, films about fashion designers were rare. Wim Wenders' A Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989) was one of the first projects to take a close look at fashion design. Yoshi Yamamoto opened up his studios and life to the cameras.

More recently the exclusive circle of fashion has revealed its madness to the general public in many popular films.

Films that add drama to fashion design The Versace Murder from 1998 and the upcoming Gucci and Isabella Blow biopics.

One of the most notable moments of fashion on film is Gaultier's work for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989). The clothing changes color based on the scene's mood.

Above Pat Field calls herself a costume stylist as she sources couture and exclusive fashion design for films like Sex & the City (2008) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Read a profile of Field here.

The Devil Wears Prada cost $35 million total. The $100,000 budget for the film's costumes was supplemented by help from friends from throughout the industry. Ultimately, Field believes, at least $1 million worth of clothing was used in the film, making it one of the most expensively costumed movies in cinema history. Above Ivory Angora Coat from Yigal Azrouel, her hat and gloves are Chanel. The purse she carries, a Calvin Klein Gold Python Hobo bag. Below a website chronicles each and every look from the films and links to online sites where you can buy the looks.

Movies for Fashion Inspiration

Check out these great articles on fashion and film, 10 movies and then 10 more!

Below are some of the films mentioned that were also covered in the course and blog: Clueless, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Grease, Almost Famous, Rear Window, Marie Antoinette, Annie Hall, The Royal Tenenbaums, Heathers and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fashion Design on Film (David Bazner)

Geoffrey Macnab, “Why Fashion On Screen Lacks Style,” The Independent

In the past, films specifically about fashion have been underwhelming. They have been visually appealing, but lack the characterization that makes watching a film worthwhile. According to Geoffrey Macnab, “Matt Tyrnauer's documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor has one quality that most fashion movies lack, namely emotional depth.” Many times, with fashion films, superficiality and exclusivity is so present that the movie becomes more of a parody. This can be seen in The Devil Wears Prada in which Merril Streep plays the role of a fictional Anna Wintour.

Even films about fashion that have received acclaim such as The September Issue lack true insight into the world of fashion. Grace Coddington takes center stage with her wit and humor, while Wintour, the Editor in Chief, “is a sphinx-like presence who betrays little sense of what is driving her.” Macnab concludes by explaining that the fashion industry has an abundance of talent and that that talent can translate into the film industry (as shown by Tom Ford in A Single Man). The issue at hand is that fashion cannot be taken at face value when used as a source of inspiration, but should be explored and challenged.

Stella Bruzzi “Cinema and Haute Couture: Sabrina to Pretty Woman, Trop Belle Pour Toi!, Pret-a-Porter” from Undressing Cinema: 3-34.

Bruzzi discusses the conflict between costume design and couture. In her discussion she explains the role of a costume designer -- which is to create looks that work cohesively with the character as well as the overall narrative of the film. A couterier, on the other hand, is more likely to create pieces that are more spectacular-- looks that take on a life of their own apart from the character who is wearing them. This can be seen with regard to the givenchy ball gown worn by audrey hepburn in sabrina. The audience becomes captivated by the beauty of the dress itself.

Bruzzi suggests that there is an independent alternative when it comes to costume design. The costumes need not be a distraction nor silent, they can be admired as their own entity.

“Valentino, the Movie” by Cathy Horyn

Cathy Horyn interviewd Matt Tyrnauer, the director of Valentino: The Last Emperor for The New York Times Magazine. When asked questions about the film, it becomes apparent that not only is the Valentino couture dynasty a central focus, but also the relationship Valentino has with his partner, Giancarlo Giametti. The couple bicker and hug, it humanizes Valentino- his public image is only one part of him. Tyrnauer touches on the fact that the world of couture has changed with Valentino having stepped down – he was the last of his kind in the way he ran his business. The film seems to capture him in two different lights – viewers will get to see the image of Valentino they are familiar with (the glamour) but also, audiences will be surprised to see a more humble Valentino. A man with a sense of nostalgia, a man who is well aware of how far he has come and what he has created for himself.

The Big Lebowski, by Giada Fried

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 American comedy film directed by the Coen brothers. The storyline contains elements of film noire but humor is the overall main driving theme. The shaggy, baggy, un-employed surfer-dude meets bowler looks were created by Mary Zophres, an acclaimed costume designer that has worked on almost all the Coen films (she has won a BAFTA award for O brother, where art thou?).

Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski or as he refers to himself "The Dude" - an unemployed L.A. slacker and avid bowler who drinks gallons of White Russians all day long and gets involved in a case of mistaken identity. Throughout the film his look is laid back and embodies the typical casual leisure look. In the first scene we see him walking through a supermarket in his robe and boxers, completely indifferent about his life. Later on we see him in a hoody and striped, baggy pants and then with an oversized wool, old-school sweater. Lebowski's color palette is toned down to earthy, muted colors -perhaps to indicate his social status or maybe to evoke a past era, for the entire film has a bit of a 1970's feel. Another important costume aspect is the importance of bowling, which leads to very specific costume choices. Mary Zophres did a great job at creating the "Lebowski look" - a look that is contemporary yet vintage and that embodies the slacker, california feeling. Together with the film, this specific look has become a cult classic for many around the world.

Tzar (2009) by Tsepkova Varvara

Film Tzar(2009) directed by Pavel Lungin
Costume designers: Ekaterina Diminskaia and Natalia Dzubenko.
Ekaterina Diminskaia and Natalia Dzubenko received Russian cinema awards in 2009 for the best work on costume for film Tzar(2009).
The film tells the story of the first Russian Tzar Ivan the Terrible. In 16th-century Russia in the grip of chaos, Ivan the Terrible strongly believes he is vested with a holy mission.
Tzar(2009) is a costume drama. Costume designers worked on traditional costumes of
the Tzar as well as recreated costumes of peasants.
The costume of the Tzar and nobility were hand made and hand embroidered.
Costume designers say that they went to India to get the fabrics for the costumes.
Rich fabrics such as velvet and silk were used to design the costumes.
A rich color palette is accurate for the costumes of nobility: deep red and deep green, blue.
Hats played a great role in the traditional costume of that era and in the film, there was more than 40 hats created for Tzar(2009). Kokoshnick traditional hats were used for girls. All head pieces were hand embroidered.