Fashion on film

Hollywood's sartorial delight


London Editor

From The Great Gatsby to Burberry's new flagship, if it isn't on screen, it isn't in fashion…

A little over half a century ago Breakfast at Tiffany’s did for the iconic jewellers as Midnight in Paris did for the French capital. it propelled Audrey Hepburn, dressed in Givenchy and bejewelled by Tiffany & Co., whose Fifth Avenue boutique Holly Golightly was so rapt with, to one of the great style icons of the 20th century. This Christmas, the jeweller returns to the big screen for The Great Gatsby. Set in the privileged playground of 1920s new York, it’s dressed entirely by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s own tailor, Brooks Brothers, with the dazzling Deco platinum-set diamond and lustrous pearl jewellery especially created for the film by Tiffany & Co., who also provided the china, sterling silverware and furnishings for Jay Gatsby’s long island mansion.

The jeweller played an intrinsic role in the unbridled optimism of 1920s America, counting Fitzgerald as a regular customer and Louis Comfort Tiffany himself moved in the Long Island circles the novel depicts. “The Tiffany & Co. archives have proven to be an invaluable resource in looking back at this Golden era of affluence and fine jewelry,” Catherine Martin, the film’s costume designer, states.

The Great Gatsby continues a time- honoured tradition of films calling on fashion designers to create a ‘look’ - from Jean Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne’s futuristic wardrobes for The Fifth Element and Barbarella, respectively, to Catherine Deneuve dressed by Yves Saint Laurent in Belle de Jour and the slim-fitting Gucci suit that carries Robert Pattison through Cosmopolis (in the photo below).

It’s a reciprocal relationship, with the big screen often inspiring designers, too. Pal Zileri’s fall/winter 2012 collection is heavily influenced by the Fifties, with numerous references to the films of Alfred Hitchcock throughout the suits and styles while, last summer, the looks of the Roaring Twenties abounded across the collections of designers such as Roberto Cavalli, Etro and Gucci in what was dubbed ‘Gatsby fever.’ Frida Giannini spoke of the enduring influence of film on Gucci at a dinner in Cannes last April to mark the Gucci film fund’s latest cinematic restoration - Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America. The brand is among the most active in championing film, having also established the Gucci Award for Women in cinema, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund and the art + film Gala. Giannini, the brand’s Creative Director, stated: “Gucci’s own 90- year history has consistently been influenced by film, and I continue to be personally inspired by cinema.”

Perhaps the most recent genre to emerge is the fashion short. Prada debuted A Therapy starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley at the Cannes Film Festival last May. It was directed by Roman Polanski, who said of the project, "The chance to dwell on what the fashion world represents nowadays and the fact that it is accompanied by so many stereotypes is fascinating and at the same time a bit upsetting, but you definitely cannot ignore it. It’s very refreshing to know that there are still places open to irony and wit and, for sure, Prada is one of them.”

Mulberry Brand Director Georgia Findley talked to LUXOS about its entry, Skirt, for the FilmInStyle project. "At the screening, Skirt did stand out, the only film not directly about a brand, product or creative director, but it stood out in a really good way. It is a beautiful, charming film and everyone really enjoyed it and it seemed a natural fit with Mulberry." Skirt went on to win the accolade of 'Best Fashion Short' at the Vimeo Film Awards in New York last May, and was also shown at the city's Fashion Film Festival, alongside Lanvin's campaign featuring Karen Elson and Racquel Zimmerman dancing under the direction of Steven Meisel.

This season's Dior film is shot in Versailles, a visually gorgeous celebration of the current collection in the setting that's been a longtime inspiration to the couture brand.

Always at the technological cutting edge, Burberry unveiled its flagship Regent Street store (the brand's largest retail space yet) this autumn with the latest instalment of its groundbreaking 'Burberry World Live' series, an event like no other, merging live bands, 360-degree films, holograms and animation in an extra-sensory, audiovisual riot. And it's not just for one night only. In-store, shoppers will find Burberry's most forward-thinking vision of 'retail theatre' yet, incorporating moving footage and technology that shoppers activate as they walk around the store. Even the signage takes the form of the moving image.

If fashion is a narrative, and our most treasured pieces tell a story, then it seems that designers and brands are increasingly experimenting with ever-evolving ways of bringing the fairytale to life onscreen via fashion's new frontier of film.

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