Fashion In Film: The Most Iconic Onscreen Looks

Like Keira Knightley and costume dramas, film and fashion have a vaguely co-dependent relationship: you can’t have one without the other. While costumers adapt the important trends of the time, designers are constantly referencing classics like Belle de Jour and Annie Hall in their collections. 

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  • We’re honoring these claassic onscreen style moments with a roundup up influential fashion movies. From the over-the-top glamour in Sunset Boulevard to the off-the-shoulder sweatshirts in Flashdance, keep reading for our crash course on style in film. 

  • Sunset Boulevard

    Over-the-top Hollywood glamour gets a twist (and twisted) in this classic 1950 Billy Wilder film. Think: turbans, floor-length mink, garish makeup, tight curls, and costume jewelry. Notice-me chic was de rigueur for shut-in Norma Desmond, played by Gloria Swanson, who was a famous silent movie star past her prime.

  • 8 1/2 

    Shot in black and white, this 1963 Academy Award-winning film was anything but old-fashioned. The minimalist silhouettes and structured accessories are timeless; they would look just as in place on a current Prada runway as they did in this surreal Fellini flick. 

  • Belle de Jour

    Thanks to Catherine Deneuve’s sophisticated, yet subversively sexy look—think: a little black dress with contrasting white collar and cuffs—the film has been a major reference point for numerous designers throughout the years. You can even see hints of the incredibly chic look on Valentino’s F/W 13 runway. 

  • Bonnie & Clyde
    Nobody looked more gangsta hopping in a getaway car than the glamorous Faye Dunaway who played Bonnie Parker in the ‘70s classic Bonnie and Clyde. A neutral palette of neckerchiefs, fitted sweaters, and midi skirts created a sexy silhouette courtesy of designer Theodora Van Runkle (who Dunaway worked with on many of her future films). And of course, there was that famous beret.

  • Rosemary’s Baby

    The pixie cut seen ‘round the world! Mia Farrow’s short blonde hair and series of little baby doll dresses make this 1968 psychological thriller an important film for both beauty and fashion. You can even see traces of the film’s idea of innocence lost in Saint Laurent’s current collection, albeit in a slightly grungy way.  

  • Last Tango in Paris

    Who can forget the opening scene of this 1972 drama, in which a foxy French woman (Maria Schneider) bounces down an empty Parisian street past an American (Marlon Brando) mourning the loss of his wife? Her oversized fur-trimmed coat and jeans with a wide-brim chapeau had an amazing Laurel Canyon rock goddess vibe that is still relevant today. 

  • Grey Gardens

    This 1975 documentary about Jackie Kennedy’s eclectic great aunt and cousin continues to influence nearly 40 years later, as everyone from Marc Jacobs and John Galliano have paid homage. The women unabashedly showcase their mish mash of vintage pieces (fur coats, brooches, and headscarves) and knack for turning tradition on its head. Not to mention, Little Edie has some of the best campy lines in the history of cinema. 

  • Taxi Driver

    Loving your crop top right now? You can thank Jodie Foster for her amazing turn opposite Robert De Niro in this gritty 1976 film about the streets of NYC. Foster rocked short shorts, platform sandals, a signature floppy hat, and crop tops that would make this year’s crop of designers jealous.

  • Annie Hall

    Diane Keaton set the standard for borrowed-from-the-boys fashion in this 1977 Woody Allen classic. From her iconic vest, tie, and slouchy trousers combo to the oversized coats and short-brim hats (all designed by Ralph Lauren), Hall’s wardrobe was and still is a novelty for designers and street style stars alike. 

  • American Gigelo

    As a male escort in this 1980 Paul Schrader flick, a young Richard Gere is nothing shy of dapper outfitted in American classics, like perfectly tailored blazers, trench coats, and high-waisted jeans. You should be channeling him come fall. 

  • Heathers
    Bust out your scrunchies, Diet Coke heads, because if you want to be a Heather—and trust us, you do—you’ve got to embrace shoulder pads and live life in poppy Technicolor. As much as we coveted Winona Ryder’s dark, moody pre-Heather style, we fell head over Mary-Janes for their circa 1988 career-woman blazers, big hair, and brooches on collared shirts. Don’t even get us started on Christian Slater. Swoon.

  • The Royal Tenenbaums

    As Margot Tenenbaum in the 2001 Wes Anderson flick The Royal Tenenbaums, Gwyneth Paltrow is the quintessential quirky-prepster-gone-dark with her retro, sporty stripe t-shirt dress (Lacoste) juxtaposed with an oversized fur coat (Fendi). And let’s not forget her beauty look! The super austere hair, little girl barrette, and sexpot smudgy eyes inspired by Warhol muse Nico are indicative of exactly what was going on in fashion at the time.

  • Flashdance

    Did anyone cut the neck out of a sweatshirt and make it a moment before Jennifer Beals did in Flashdance? Probably—but you don’t remember it, because this was the iconic thing of the ‘80s. Dancer on-and-off-duty chic—a leotard, leg warmers, Capezios or pumps—was the hottest trend around. (Even if you weren’t soaking wet when you rocked it.)

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