Fashion Geek: 5 Big Screen Fashion Scenes

With Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie out in the theatres and The Devil Wears Prada celebrating its 10th year anniversary, we thought it would be the most opportune moment to revisit some of our favourite movies whose character's iconic wardrobes have been imprinted in our minds. They might not necessarily all be movies centred around fashion, but what they all have is a protagonist that is impeccably or has captured the essence of the era of fashion it was in.

1. Belle Du Jour

This cult classic remains one of our favourite designer and actress pairings. It was between Yves Saint Laurent and Catherine Deneuve. The classic trench coats that were used throughout the movie were carefully thought out with materials like patent leather and soft wools to show the contrast of her character. Who could also forget all the scenes with her Roger Vivier pumps? Our Curator thinks that Belle de Jour kickstarted the importance of footwear in movies. Today, for instance, many modern films use the iconic red sole by Christian Louboutin to establish a woman’s identity and allure.


It has been 21 years since this teen movie turned cult classic was first shown in theatres around the world. The movie Clueless turned then-unknown blonde actress, Alicia Silverston, into a household name overnight. But more importantly, Clueless also showcased some of the best designers of the 1990s. Most notably, the scene that still plays through the minds of so many fashion-lovers was the scene when Cher Horowitz was asked to lay on the floor, after being robbed. Horowitz exclaimed that she was not able to do that because, well, she was wearing Azzadine Alaia and Alaia is "a very important designer". 

Scoring an Alaia dress for the movie was a major coup for the movie. One has to remember that this was the early 1990s, when getting an important designer to sign off on a teen movie was relatively unheard of. Costume designer and stylist for Clueless said in an interview: “To get an Alaïa dress I had to make so many calls. There was really no club promoting at the time, there was none of what’s happening now; it was really all my footwork, trying to bring these designers in. And my budget wasn’t huge, so (we used) whatever I could get for free, and Alaïa was very generous with the pieces – he was such a collaborative designer.”


Released in 1988, Working Girl showcased a mix of the American dream and women breaking the glass ceiling. Taking place between Staten Island and Wall Street New York, watching the transformation of Melanie Griffith from a secretary to a junior executive in a Merger and Acquisition company starts with her style. Full of women wearing power suits, some reference to Coco Chanel. It was all about the style, the demure and of course a love affair with Harrison Ford.
But the costumes in Working Girl centred mostly around one theme: Power Dressing. As Griffith's character, Tess, grew in confidence and determination to break the glass ceiling, so did her dressing changed. Wide shoulders, fitted and impeccably tailored jackets, as well as knee length skirts and tailored shirts were central to her character development. It must be noted that the look was filtered down from that of a male corporate outfit. And this was done by Giorgio Armani. The legendary designer incorporated luxe materials, such as cashmere and expensive wool, to make the power suits. And that was how Armani became the label that was synonymous to fine corporate dressing and suits. 


While almost everybody's favourite fashion moment in movie history was Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ours has got to be Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. This film was the start to the beautiful union of the actress and couturier Hubert de Givenchy. Because, let's face it, who would be a better muse for the house of Givenchy? Each moment of this film is packed with drool worthy Couture pieces that made our hearts skip a beat. The references to legendary photographer Richard Avedon and editor Diana Vreeland also gained points in our fashion nerd hearts.

What's interesting was that most of Hepburn's costumes were designed by legendary costume designer Edith Head but Funny Face also showcased a collection of custom made pieces designed specifically for Hepburn by Givenchy. It should be noted that Hepburn had first wanted Givenchy to dress her for the movie Sabrina, but he was not able to commit and, in turn, gave her the "key" to his atelier to pick any gowns she wanted for the movie. 

Hepburn tried again for the movie Funny Face and demanded that Givenchy be the lead designer, taking the place of Edith Head.  London's The Guardian wrote that while the couturier’s name appears on the credits, it was his designs that were given a starring role. Hepburn, in her role as bookseller turned model Jo, poses beautifully in the outfits in elegant Paris locations: running down the steps of the Louvre waving a scarf of red chiffon; fishing on a barge on the Seine in cropped suit and straw hat; dashing through the Jardin des Tuileries in a cap-sleeved black dress. Tres beau! 


When Joanna Johnston, costume designer for the movie "Who Killed Jessica Rabbit", first started sketching for the movie, she turned to the Gilda and its costume designer Jean Louise for inspiration. In fact, Johnston was the first or the only one who did. Jean Louise was a legend when it came to bringing together fashion and film. His creations for the late silver screen icon Rita Hayworth in the movie Gilda are still talked about today. 

Hayworth's costumes in the movie were glamorous and fitted her like gloves. For Gilda, Jean Louis created daring, sensual gowns in luxurious silk, satin, metallic and transparent fabrics, transforming Rita Hayworth into a screen goddess. To bring back to the point about Jessica Rabbit - Hayworth’s striptease performance in a dazzling black dress turned her into one of the most glamorous film stars of all time. And that gown was the basis for the design of Jessica Rabbit's iconic sparkling red gown.  

Jean Louis, who created many iconic dresses including the glittery number worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang 'Happy Birthday, Mr. President' to John F. Kennedy in 1962.