Fashion and film have always been interconnected throughout the decades. It’s no secret that costume design is an important element in film. A well-designed costume can bring characters to life, transport the viewer to another time or place, and most importantly lend integrity to a director’s creative vision. Furthermore, well-executed costume pieces can greatly impact the staying power of a film. Take Breakfast at Tiffany’sfor example: despite being filmed in the 60s, the costumes remain timeless and modern and as fashionable today as ever, and undoubtedly cemented the film’s reputation as a romantic Hollywood classic.
Over the years, several prominent fashion designers have lent their creativity to film, from French couturiers to high-end footwear designers. In some cases, costume design launched their American careers, and some were already established designers before taking the leap to film. In any event, these artists definitely made their mark on Hollywood. From Jean Paul Gaultier’s futuristic fare to Miuccia Prada’s reimagining of a Shakespearean classic to Paco Rabanne’s otherworldly wonders, these designers’ creativity knows no bounds. To commemorate these prominent designers and their amazing contribution to film history, we have curated a list of nine fashion-forward films and the famous fashion designers who brought the costumes to life. Here are nine fashion designers who have created costumes for movies.
9 Jean Paul Gaultier – The Fifth Element
While Jean Paul Gaultier has collaborated on several films throughout his career, the most notable is Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi thriller The Fifth Element. Not only has the film itself reached cult status, but so have Gaultier’s innovative costumes. Tasked with designing the costumes for the four main characters, Gaultier exceeded expectations when he designed over 1000 costumes for the film, paying attention to the lead actors and extras alike. His work on the film earned him a second Cesar Award for Best Costume Design. If you want to relive the fashion extravaganza, you can watch the film in theaters this year for its 25th anniversary.
8 Hubert de Givenchy – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is based on a novella of the same name by Truman Capote, which follows the life of elegant but flighty socialite Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) as she falls in love with her neighbor and struggling writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard). While the film itself is a classic, there is no denying it gains most of its notoriety from its chic and feminine fashion. The key elements of Hepburn’s wardrobe in the film were designed by Hepburn’s friend and Parisian couturier Hubert de Givenchyincluding the long black evening gown in the opening sequence of the movie that is widely regarded as one of the most iconic fashion pieces in history.
7 Tom Ford – Spectre
Budding auteur and fashion designer Tom Ford collaborated with costume designer Jany Temime on the 24th installment of the James Bond franchise, Spectrewherein Daniel Craig’s Bond uncovers the existence of an underground criminal organization dubbed Spectre. Temime discussed her partnership with Ford in a 2015 interview with Esquire, stating, “It’s very nice for me because I can design what I want and he just does what I like. Because he’s a director himself, he very much respects the role of the costume designer.”
6 Giorgio Armani – American Gigolo
Giorgio Armani‘s love affair with film began with designing the wardrobe for the 1980 Paul Schrader film American Gigolo. The main protagonist in the film, Julian Kaye, embodied the spirit of an Armani man, and the influence the film had would help launch Armani’s career in America. The famed designer would continue to work in film throughout his career and would go on to design costume pieces for the 1980s TV series Miami Viceand movies like The Untouchables, The Bodyguard, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Inglorious Bastardsto name a few. The film has recently inspired a TV series remake on Showtime, also called American Gigolostarring Jon Bernthal as Julian Kaye.
5 Paco Rabanne – Barbarella
Designer Paco Rabanne is one of the co-creators of the 1960s space-age fashion movement. Who better to design the costumes for Barbarellawhich follows a futuristic astronaut on a mission to save the galaxy from evil-doers. Rabanne’s inventive costumes including tight-fitting bodysuits, chain-mail mini dresses, and metallic boots, have become as iconic as the film itself.
4 Miuccia Prada – Romeo & Juliet
Miuccia Prada has collaborated with director Baz Luhrmann on several of his films including Romeo & Juliet, The Great Gatsby, and Luhrmann’s latest film Elvis. Prada, the creative director behind Miu Mui and Prada, first worked with Luhrmann in Romeo & Juliet designing Juliet’s iconic white dress and angel wings, and Romeo’s navy wedding suit. On their second collaboration for The Great GatsbyPrada revamped 40 dresses from her archives to be featured in the film as well as recreated a dress from their 2010 spring/summer collection to be featured on star Carey Mulligan. The infamous pair teamed up again recently for Elvis to recreate the King of Rock n’ Roll’s iconic costumes.
3 Christian Dior – Stage Fright
Christian Dior benefited from his friendship with Stage Fright leading lady Marlene Dietrich, who insisted that director Alfred Hitchcock hire Dior to outfit her for the film with the famous words “No Dior. No Dietrich!”. With that, Dior would go on to costume the German-American actress in his popular ‘ new look’ silhouette which featured nipped waists, and full-skirted dresses.
2 Coco Chanel – Last Year at Marienbad
Famed designer Coco Chanel has a long history of being involved in film. According to Vanity Fair, movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn of United Artists held the belief that “women went to the movies to see how other women dressed,” and so in 1931 he offered Chanel a whopping $1 million contract to outfit his Hollywood starlets, both onscreen and off, convinced she would bring the class back into Hollywood. In 1961, she returned to the role as a costume designer for the film Last Year at Marienbadwhich features magnificent dresses made with luxe fabrics such as chiffon, tulle, and lace, with her signature pearl details of course.
1 Manolo Blahnik – Marie Antoinette
The name Manolo Blahnik is synonymous with high-fashion footwear. While the well-established designer was designing shoes for big names such as Twiggy and Bianca Jagger in the 70s, Blahnik’s popularity rose in the 90s due to increased visibility from popular TV series Absolutely Fabulous and Sex and the City. In 2006, Blahnik would lend his creative forces to Sofia Coppola’s visual masterpiece Marie Antoinette. The seasoned designer’s gorgeous period-era shoes paired beautifully with Italian costume designer Milena Canonero’s Oscar-winning costumes.