My top 10 fashion film picks
So fashionistas, what do you think are the best films about fashion? Here’s my Luscious List but be sure to leave a comment to let us know what I’ve missed…
Note: My list is organised by release-date order, and also seems to focus on a lot of New York-centric films (I wasn’t aware of it until I read back through it all!). But I do have a full list of fashion films as well as documentaries and TV shows in these other posts, so why don’t you work out your own top ten and leave a comment below.
A great “Golden Years of Hollywood” film, with an all-star, all-female cast which include Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard, Lucile Watson, Mary Boland and Virginia Grey, directed by George Cukor.
Adapted for the screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin, the comedy-drama was based on Clare Boothe Luce’s play of the same name. The storyline relates to the role of women in the 1930s, particularly their quest for dependence upon/independence from men, and is set amongst New York high society, with all the fabulous frocks and exquisite interiors that go along with it.
Costumes were designed by iconic Hollywood designer, Adrian.
You might also like to see more Joan Crawford in our Mildred Pierce: 1945 version with Joan Crawford photo gallery.
Directed by legendary Hollywood director Stanley Donen, Funny Face stars Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson. Astaire’s character is strongly based on acclaimed photographer Richard Avedon, who also acted as a consultant on the film.
Kay Thompson’s character – based on Vogue editor Diana Vreeland – takes the young-and-unknown Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn) from obscurity as a bookstore assistant and turns her into a Paris fashion model, much to Jo’s disdain.
Not too disimilar to The Devil Wears Prada (see below) but set in the 1950s in New York and Paris, this is a fun insight into the world of fashion magazine publishing.
Read more about the fabulous Kay Thompson in this recent biography by Sam Irwin. As well as being a singer, composer, actress and best friend to Judy Garland, she wrote the “Eloise” book series (think “Eloise at the Plaza”) .
You might also like these Audrey Hepburn-related photo galleries:
This romantic comedy was directed by Blake Edwards – the script by George Axelrod is based very loosely based on the story by Truman Capote – and stars Audrey Hepburn as New York socialite-prostitute-good-time-girl Holly Golightly and George Peppard as writer Paul Varjak, as well as Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney.
Noteworthy: Capote originally wanted Marilyn Monroe in the role of Holly but she turned it down on the advice of her acting coach and went to work in The Misfits instead; and the character of Paul in the novella was actually gay.
PS. Patricia Neal’s granddaughter is model, author and TV cook Sophie Dahl. See our Delicious Miss Dahl photo gallery here.
This crime drama – considered to be one of the first of the “New Hollywood” era – was directed by Arthur Penn and starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the title characters. New Hollywood was also known as the American New Wave and put individuals in charge of their film careers, therefore breaking from the traditional Hollywood studio system that had dominated cinema for decades.
As well as being groundbreaking for its time, it also distinguished itself for not kowtowing to a happy Hollywood-esque ending but having the characters die in a bloody shout-out, as well as injecting romance and slapstick comedy to a violent subject.
Costume design was by Theadora Van Runkle who also dressed Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair and The Arrangement, and her off-screen life.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby” is considered to be his best and widely regarded as “The Great American Novel” for its use of language, creativity and representing the era of the rich-and-not-so-industrious in America.
Gatsby is a self-made man, but surrounded by smoke and mirrors, and in love with our anti-heroine, the spoilt and insipid but beautiful Daisy, who is married to the rich Tom Buchanan. The story takes us through a summer in 1922 with the “beautiful people” of New York and Long Island, through the eyes of Tom Buchanan’s former Yale classmate, Nick Carraway.
Several films have been made about this ethically-questionable bunch of characters, but it was the 1974 version starring Mia Farrow as Daisy and Robert Redford as the enigmatic Gatsby which catapulted the story into classic cinema history. The combination of cocktails, frocks, parties and luscious locations make it an aesethician’s paradise.
Costumes for the 1974 film were designed by Theoni V. Aldredge (Annie, La Cage aux Folles, A Chorus Line), and Catherine Martin (wife of director Baz Luhrmann) designed both costumes and the production design for the 2013 film. Martin and Luhrman are also producers of this latest version.
You might also like our Films and TV shows set in the 1910s, 20s and 30s photo gallery.
This dramatisation of the Patricia Highsmith‘s 1955 novel, directed by Anthony Minghella, drew a fabulous cast including Matt Damon as the conman Tom Ripley, Jude Law as rich kid Dickie Greenleaf, Gwyneth Paltrow as his girlfriend Madge Sherwood, Cate Blanchett as Meredith Logue, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddie Miles, and Jack Davenport as Peter Smith-Kingsley.
Set in New York and Italy in the 1950s, we get a psychological thriller with beautiful frockage, great music and stunning locations, as well as an engrossing story. You might like to scroll through some of our Italian photo galleries to get yourself into the mood.
I was lucky enough to interview Minghella and his Australian cinematographer, John Seale, in Sydney when the film was released and we had a fabulous time discussing Italy and jazz. You can listen to Matt Damon and Jude Law singing “Tu Vuo’ Fa l’Americano” here, and Matt Damon singing “My Funny Valentine” here.
This thinly-veiled look inside the world of Anna Wintour and Vogue (US) was based on Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel and follows young “anti-fashion” college graduate, Andrea “Andy” Sachs, who becomes an assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor of the fictitious Runway magazine in Manhattan.
Anne Hathaway played the role of Andy, Meryl Streep did the honours as Miranda, and Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci almost stole the show as Priestly’s first assistant and Art Director, respectively. Noteworthy: Tucci recently married Emily Blunt’s sister, Felicity Blunt. Adrian Grenier and Simon Baker also feature as Andy’s love interests.
The costumes were designed by Patricia Field of Sex and the City fame, and was the most expensively costumed movie in history, thanks to the use of top fashion house contributions.
More Anne Hathaway photos in these galleries:
- Anne Hathway
- Anne Hathaway in Interview by Marcus Piggott and Mert Alas
- Anne Hathaway in Chanel at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards.
The September issue of Vogue (US) magazine is the largest edition each year, and the production process for the September 2007 edition was followed by director RJ Cutler in his 2009 behind-the-scenes documentary, filmed over 9 months.
The doco provides unprecedented access to editor Anna Wintour, creative director Grace Coddington,and the staff of Vogue in their New York offices. Various designers, photographers and models also appear, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Stefano Pilati, Oscar de la Renta, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Coco Rocha, Daria Werbowy and Hilary Rhoda.
Buy a back copy of the Vogue (US) September 2007 issue itself, with Sienna Miller on the cover, to find out what all the fuss was about. Or subscribe to Vogue (US) so you don’t miss out on any editions ever again!
For further reading about current and former Vogue editors, I suggested you check out the following books:
- Diana Vreeland: DV
- Liz Tilberis: No Time to Die
- Grace Mirabella: In and Out of Vogue
- Carine Roitfeld: Irreverent
- Grace Coddington: Memoirs.
Fashion designer, Tom Ford, changed creative hats with his directorial debut, filming Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel, “A Single Man”.
The story follows George Falconer (Colin Firth), a lonely English professor living in California in 1962, who is mourning the sudden death of his partner, Jim, played by Matthew Goode, a few months earlier. Like Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway”, the story is told in one day, following the depressed George’s interactions with his college peers, students (including Nicholas Hoult as Kenny), best friend, Charley (Julianne Moore), and Spanish hooker, Carlos (model Jon Kortajarena).
The production design, including the famed 1948-49 Schaffer House by architect John Lautner, which is used as George and Jim’s home, was designed by the team behind Mad Men. The costumes are mid-century-modern sensational, and were designed by Arianne Phillips although we’re sure Tom Ford oversaw every detail.
Noteworthy: Firth received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal, and Tom Ford financed the film himself.
See more in our The Lautner House used in the film “A Single Man” photo galley, and more Tom Ford-related lusciousness here:
- Tom Ford and his homes
- Tom Ford, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode and Colin Firth
- Tom Ford: A very busy boy
- Tom Ford Spring 2013 RTW Collection
See our Tom Ford board on Pinterest too.
Bill Cunningham is a photographer for the New York Times who has been chronicling fashion trends for decades, receiving the respect of fashion wearers, designers and editors alike.
In this documentary by Richard Press, we get to see inside the daily life of Cunningham, as he rides his bike around New York, taking photos of street fashion from the couture to the eccentric, as well as runway collections and fashion events.
Personally, I consider him an international treasure, and considering his vibrant-but-advancing years, glad that someone was able to capture and archive some of his unassuming but precious insight into the fashion world, and society as a whole.
“Why fashion is important”
Here’s a scene from The Devil Wears Prada where Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) rebukes Andrea’s scoff that “it all looks the same to me” and explains why Andrea’s own anti-fashion-is-still-fashion beliefs are hypocritical. Gold!
See our Fashion and Film board on Pinterest for more pix.