Fashionistas and film buffs alike know that there’s nothing like the big screen to showcase fashion at its most glamorous. From Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black ensemble in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the flapper-inspired luxe of The Great Gatsby, the right styling on screen can make a lasting impression upon not just a film but popular culture itself.
Indulge in fashion porn with our selection of six films from the 1960s to today, that ooze with glamour, sophistication and style (and aren’t bad to watch, either).
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
When Audrey Hepburn’s character, Eliza Golightly, searched for her cat on the streets of New York donning that immaculate black ensemble, little did she know that she was creating one of the most recognisable – and timelessly stylish – outfits of all time. Those elbow-length gloves, stunning diamond neck piece and understated up-do – complete with gleaming tiara – have been mimicked at costume parties everywhere, but never with the grace and class of Audrey Hepburn, arguably elegance personified.
The film is a lot of fun, if somewhat zany for its 1960s setting, and well worth a watch in its own right. But add that famous look – and several equally classic pieces (the long-overlooked red coat, for one!) – and you have the makings of one of the most glamorous films ever made.
Funny Face is a lesser-known hit of Audrey’s, but no less extraordinary in the fashion stakes. It tells the story of a young, unknown bookstore assistant – played, of course, by Audrey – being taken under the wing of a leading fashion magazine editor and promptly blossoming into a famous fashion model in Paris. Fred Astaire and Kay Thompson co-star in this musical, which can be a tad schmaltzy at times, but the 1950s fashion – oh, the fashion! – alone merits a good look.
The Devil Wears Prada
Along similar lines, the 2006 hit The Devil Wears Prada featured Anne Hathaway playing a distinctly unfashionable magazine assistant who comes to fall for all things fashion, if not her icy boss, the editor Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep). The film was a loose adaptation of Lauren Weisburger’s book by the same name which, in turn, was not-so-loosely based on her experience working at Vogue under Anna Wintour.
A great film in its own right – albeit somewhat predictable – the clothes will have even the least fashion-savvy among us drooling. Designer item after designer item flits its way across the screen, making it one of the most expensively-costumed films in cinema history. Imagine having the costume director’s job!
How to Marry a Millionaire
Another iconic Hollywood legend – perhaps the most enduring of all time – is the blonde bombshell and sex symbol that was Marilyn Monroe. Though better known for singing about a diamond’s friendship qualities in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes while dripping in diamonds and decked in an extravagant pink number (and, of course, that famous skirt incident), How to Marry a Millionaire showcases Marilyn at her most stylish.
It is an entertaining, witty film featuring Marilyn and her two friends – played by equally glamorous Hollywood sirens Betty Gable and Lauren Bacall – attempting to woo their way to wealth. The famous fashion runway scene boasts a variety of stunning 1950s dresses that will have vintage-inspired fashionistas in awe.
The Great Gatsby
As far as classic vintage looks go, the 1920s flappers give the 1950s sirens a run for their money in the glamour stakes! Fitzgerald’s masterpiece novel The Great Gatsby has inspired many film adaptations, and while each offers a stylish rendition, there is no looking past the 2013 remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan. Its lavish period costuming was achieved by studying 1920s fashion archives and adapting some seminal Prada and Miu Miu pieces, while Tiffanys provided much vintage jewellery. The result is a visually arresting recreation of 1920s excess.
Coco avant Chanel
This 2009 French film, starring the dynamic Audrey Tatou as Coco Chanel herself, portrays the early life of the legendary designer as she began her heady ascent in the fashion world. The delicate costuming is – unsurprisingly – to die for, but perhaps the underrated winner is not so much the expected little black dresses but the precisely-cut and perfectly-matched day wear sported by the title character, which aptly displays the understated elegance we’ve all come to associate with the long-lasting brand. Glamour indeed.
Maria Lucia is a freelance writer and fashion tragic from Sydney, who keeps up with the latest style trends thanks to Autograph.