30 December 2013

Inspired by the Decades: Women's Fashion in Film and TV

Each decade throughout history has evoked something special in each trend in women's fashion and sense of style; from the very first timeless classic designers to the newest and most avant-garde. And film - and later TV - has just as often contributed to this timelessness and avant-garde sense of clothes' reinvention by bringing back fashion-conscious stories to a visual examination and critique but most of all a tribute. These different outfits have withstood throughout time, wars and revolutions in the Western female mind as historic landmarks and icons, still wearable to this day and (hopefully) long into the future. Faking it or not, you can wear the exact original idea or change it into your own liking and style. Through all the ground-breaking pieces of ladies' wear, iconic dresses and historical costumes evoked on the screen, I've chosen to focus on some of my favorite outfits (+ the women wearing it) in contemporary film and TV. Just to get a picture of how well they do it ;)
By the way, I would have loved to include all designers responsible for the costumes and wardrobes of these movies and series but the mere number of people working with this particular production department is simply too vast to list here. And though I assume - given the Academy Award wins and nominations - there's a head costume designer (they seem to shift in TV series, however), I wouldn't want to give anyone more credit than others if indeed so many people belong and contribute to this department as I've managed to found out. But I would recommend researching on this field and find out more about these amazing people yourself.

The 1900s/1910s 

Who else to come first than the one and only Miss Coco Chanel! The first woman in modern century to give women a new perspective on clothes and how to wear it as portrayed - with an uncanny likeness by Audrey Tautou in the lead - in the biopic "Coco Before Chanel" (2009):

(Most likely 1920s here)

The 1910s

Outspoken supporters of women's suffrage in the beginning of the 20th century, of course, dressed according to attitude, despite controversies. Actress Rebecca Pidgeon sports the attitude and the accommodating outfit with grace and 'brassyness' in "The Winslow Boy" (1999) and so does Adelaide Clemens in the TV series "Parade's End" (2012-13). And of course, no to forget, ITV's successful series "Downton Abbey" (2010-present) which begins in the 1910s and has now entered the 1920s. Though I prefer the down-to-earth clothes of more (upper-)middle-class women to the upper-class and aristocracy, the show has a beautiful wardrobe for their cast - definitely worth watching:

This is actually from another of Rebecca Pidgeon's films,
"The Spanish Prisoner" (1997), but it struck me that she had
 the exact same outfit on as in "The Winslow Boy" (above pic).

The 1920s

In my opinion, some of the most striking costumes in  contemporary films set in the 1920s - besides Miss Chanel's - are in the following films: "Midnight in Paris" (2011), "Chicago" (2002), "The Great Gatsby" (2013), "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond" (2008) and then, of course, HBO's hit series "Boardwalk Empire" (2010-present), as well as the Australian series "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" (2012-present):

The 1930s

Simple cuts, lines and clear colors and yummy materials makes the 1930s dresses look amazing on the slender female body, and Romola Garai certainly wears such in "Glorious 39" (2009) as does Janet Montgomery in the TV series "Dancing on the Edge" (2013) - both directed by Stephen Poliakoff. And even more so does it suit Keira Knightley's slim femininity in "Atonement" (2007):

The 1910s-30s' Safari/Adventure Outfit

Beige-colors, khaki-pants, leather boots and aviatrix-suits couldn't have looked better for these decades! Pictures from "Out of Africa" (1985), "The Phantom" (1996) and "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981):

 The 1940s

Katharine Hepburn's honest personality and tomboyish style with loose trousers and preference for menswear is portrayed to PERFECTION (in my opinion and luckily in the Academy's) by Cate Blanchett in "The Aviator" (2004). I cannot say enough about both ladies and the genius who combined them in this role/film..! If you've read my blog, you're probably already aware of my idolization of (short-haired) women with brassy attitudes who can easily compete with the men, yet beneath the tough exterior also show vulnerability and heart. These women were perhaps all the more present in the 1940s. During the World War II and the men's obvious absence, women were recruited out of necessity  to temporarily (and controversially) fill out the men's working places. In the TV series (and soon-to-be film version) "Bomb Girls" (2012), tomboy Ali Liebert and the rest of the Canadian female gang pull on the overalls and bandanas - just as 'Rosie the Riveter' - in order to contribute to the war effort e.g. by making bombs at the factories, while Geena Davis and a cheeky gang of baseball playing women (including Madonna) get verbally and literally dirty and show that they are more than filling out the men's shoes in "A League of Their Own" (1992):

The 1950s

No wonder Romola Garai appears once again! She just has one of those faces, right? She blends so well with period dramas that she has covered basically everything portrayed on British television; from the 18th and 19th century and up to the 1930s ("Glorious 39" and "Atonement") and '50s with the now cancelled TV series "The Hour". In elegant, bright colored suits with clear waistcuts, slim skirts and a short hairdo of wavy, soft blond curls, Romola is the female driving force of the 1950s news show, The Hour, together with tough journalist, Anna Chancellor, and the rest of the crew. Furthermore, the series "Call the Midwife" (2012-present) offers great - and more girly - inspirations for a 1950s outfit. And then of course, I needed to add The Pink Ladies from "Grease" (1978), just because they are so darn cool (and because I needed to come up with some Teddy Girl-inspiration, which hasn't been represented enough on the screen, in my opinion):

PS. Be sure to also check out the new HBO series "Masters of Sex" set in the end of 1950s America. 

The 1960s

Much can be (and is) said about the quality of "Mad Men" (2007-present) but I personally prefer the costumes in the now cancelled show "Pan Am" (2011-12) - also set in the 1960s. Furthermore stills from "An Education" (2009), "A Single Man" (2009) and "Factory Girl" (2006):

PS: I'm also pretty excited about the new period drama series "Breathless" on ITV:

The 1970s

I must admit this was a hard one and though there are many films about the 1970s like "Almost Famous" (2000), "Anchorman" (2004) and "American Hustle" (2013) which spand all the way from bohemian groupie outfits to rather exaggarated, parodying '70s style to flashy, low-cut disco style, I really wanted something more close to Diane Keaton's famous outfits in Woody Allen's films. And the nearest I could come up with was the women's outfits in "The Bank Job" (2008), because their clothes are elegant, yet in the characteristic patterned and earthly colors. A little less disco, low-cut and bohemian than all the rest - which I personally prefer.

The 1980s

Let's be honest. Not all shoulder pads, crimped hair and pastel-colored velvet suits worked in this decade. Some things were outright ridiculous but I guess in context it was sorta okay. However, once again, it was hard finding a modern evocation on screen portraying the decade without too much exaggeration regarding the clothes. However, I think the  British series "Ashes to Ashes" (2008-2010) comes pretty close as seen below, as well as highlighting some of the more fun fashion features of the decade. Furthermore, I find Rebecca Hall's character in "Starter for 10" (2006) really cool and low-key in a bit blacker, somewhat punk-inspired version of an '80s style (if I'd lived back then I would definitely have gone with that look). A new show situated in the '80s and worth checking out is "Halt and Catch Fire" (2014-present).



The 1990s-2000s

Okay. Now we've come so far, it's almost too close to our present fashion culture. I know, I know, I shouldn't make a post called 'Inspired by the Decades' if I don't include all decades... But I'm simply stuck in my inspirational research for contemporary movies and TV series taking place in these two decades and illustrating the fashion tendencies to exact point. After all, the best examples are actually movies FROM the 1990s and 2000s! So, I'm sorry to disappoint any readers who come across this post and enjoyed it so far, but I can recommend this article if you want to see what great examples the '90s and '00s had to offer regarding style.
Furthermore, I think my reason for this inspiration-'block' comes from a difficult task of separating nowadays' clothes and fashion tendencies from the ones of e.g. the '90s - as you'll see examples of in the next part - as we seem to mix and blend tendencies from almost all earlier decades into our own. Also, there're actually few tendencies in the '90s-'00s that I personally like, which already narrows down the list of examples - if there were any. (My personal favorite is Winona Ryder and Drew Barrymore's rock chic style during the '90s which I've written another post about).

The 2010s

With just a dash of a '50s Teddy Girl, a '60s skinhead, a '70s/'80s New Romantic/punk chick - all in all a female version of David Bowie and Prince - and a '90s casual/grunge chic style, Vod (Zawe Ashton) in the TV series "Fresh Meat" (2011-present) adds up to the way fashion pretty much goes today: by mixing all prior fashion trends together! Yet she does it boldly and originally and, of course, with attitude which makes her all the more inspirational and fun to watch. She is officially my new style inspiration:

Thanks for reading and hope you've enjoyed it! If you have any comments or remarks of any kind, please leave a message down below and I'd be ever so glad ;)

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