mise en scène

one of my favorite films of all time is Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. Cary Grant and Grace Kelly both inhabit their characters so perfectly, and the wardrobe used in the film for both actors is extraordinary. the posts at the brilliant blog Clothes on Film are insightful and inspiring, and like stephanie's wonderful post on Being John Malkovich and my earlier post this year on eccentric fur coats, they really connect the dots in the making of iconic 'looks' that circulate in fashion and cultural imaginations today. Chris Laverty, the editor/writer behind Clothes on Film, explains the significance of clothing and costume to film here:

"Costume design remains one of the most misunderstood and underappreciated filmmaking arts. Far in excess of merely ‘dressing’ an actor for their role, costume design is discourse. A film can be read via costume; sometimes overtly, sometimes subtextually. Not just conspicuous sci-fi or period, but contemporary stories set within a familiar world in familiar attire. On screen even the most rudimentary item of clothing can take on meaning."

you often hear stylists and designers talk about how they're inspired by a certain film, and how certain scenes or a character is the muse for the 'story' for a collection or an idea. another one of my inspirations is Jean Seberg in the film adaptation of Bonjour Tristesse. the pixie haircut, her fresh-faced gamine charm, the rolled-up loose buttondown shirts...so lovely and i never get tired of this look!

do you have a favorite film or character for style inspiration?


  1. Jean Seberg looks so good, the way only Jean Seberg can, sadly. My favourite Hitchcock movie for clothes was Grace Kelly in Rear Window, but I admit To Catch a Thief trumps it with a very elegant Cary Grant.

    I like Thelma and Louise for kickass cool, and I like Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow for her beautiful, minimalist look. And it's so boring to like The Royal Tenenbaums, but I do, hahaha.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I wrote a story last year about an exhibition of Grace Kelly's wardrobe - what was particularly interesting to me was how she made conventional clothes so iconic.

    My favourite films for style are The Royal Tenenbaums (of course), Breakfast at Tiffanys, Bonnie and Clyde and Rear Window. Actually I think most of Hitchcock's films are incredibly stylish...think of Vertigo. I also love old Bollywood films - from the 1940s and 1950s. The men looked so dapper (they were very influenced by Gregory Peck, et al) and the women shone in their saris and pearls and old-school hair. And there's one Indian film from the 1960s - An Evening in Paris - appalling storyline, but I have held onto the DVD for the clothes alone. Something so striking about seeing a beautiful Indian woman swan around Paris in a chiffon sari and a bouffant! And heaps of eyeliner.

  3. I generally like to be inspired by the ass-kicking chick. But it has to look realistic. Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (Volume 1 & 2) is a great example. Her clothes look effortless but appropriate for said ass-kicking. Her yellow track suit comes to mind for me as do her leather jackets and jeans.

    My Fair Lady was very inspiring and thought provoking for me too. It made me think about the transformative qualities of clothing. How dressing and presenting yourself in a certain way can lead others to assume certain things about who you are. It wasn't in the negative though, as Audrey Hepburn sure proved that the best show of who you are is to just be yourself. The clothes and styling are just your accents.

  4. this is a really generic answer, but i think i'm most inspired by some of the characters anna karina has played--band of outsiders and pierrot le fou are my favorites. also, i'm always so inspired by the characters in sofia coppola's and wes anderson's films. both directors' sense of personal style really shows through in their movies.

  5. There are so many films I love fashion wise! To add to the movies already mentioned - I really loved Audrey Hepburn's How to Steal a Million outfits and outfits in La Piscine. And, of course, Wes Anderson's films! Neverending inspiration!

  6. I similarly love To Catch a Thief - Cary Grant's outfits inspire me as much as Grace Kelly's! I'm also inspired by Anna Karina's outfits in Godard's classics as well as Audrey Hepburn in Charade, How to Steal A Million and Funny Face. And more recently A Single Man and Wes Anderson's films.


  7. i almost bought Bonjour Tristesse today! i'll have to go back for it. very predictable, but Scarlett Johansson's character in Lost in Translation. It's really inspiring to see easygoing, boyish clothes on a woman with curves like mine.

  8. Pret a Porter P: lol!! i agree - Addams Family has some great inspiration, especially for the RO-inclined among us.

    lin: i think everyone has a soft spot for TRT, but i agree about Cary Grant in TCAT - i really want to wear a red silk scarf with the striped shirt and trousers!

    Ammu: ooh was your story an article? BAT was also great - i love how Audrey Hepburn wears the man's tux shirt at the beginning with such elan. she manages to exude sensuality and sexiness without any vulgarity. and those bollywood films sound awesome! i'll have to see if i can find AEIP on netflix or something...

    Eva: i agree! like lin, i like Thelma & Louise for the same reason. :)

    jennifer: i haven't seen any of those films - i think i need to do a classic film marathon one of these days :) and yean...i loved Lost in Translation and SJ's understated clothes...

    Ginta: i need to see Wes Anderson's films - for menswear i think The Darjeeling Limited looks quite cool!

    Alexandra: i've been meaning to watch ASM - i love that Tom Ford uses all his talents in that film to spectacular effect.

    Kate: i know - i especially liked that scene where she's wearing a peacoat or jacket and going through the japanese gardens...

  9. Yes it was - http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/grace-kelly-style-secrets-revealed-london-exhibit/story?id=11153174


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