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10 Iconic Film Costumes Made by Major Fashion Designers

The silver screen has blessed us with some of the most iconic costumes in film history. From Princess Leia’s white gown to Natalie Portman’s black ballet dress in the Black Swan, costume design has been an integral part not only to the world of cinema but leave an imprint in pop culture and fashion history. Major fashion designers have also lent a hand to costume designers on the set of famous Hollywood movies, some that may even surprise you. Let’s take a look at ten iconic costumes designed by famous fashion labels.

#1 BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961) GIVENCHY

Audrey and Hubert were very close friends and have gone on to work in several more projects including Funny Face, How to Steal a Million and Love in the Afternoon. Audrey Hepburn’s classic black evening gown in her 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, has gone on to become one of the most iconic dresses in the 20th century. The dress paved the way for the ‘little black dress’ trend with starlets and audiences alike and is perhaps one of the most famous of them all. Hepburn’s look, styled with a Roger Scemama necklace (Scemama often worked with Givenchy as his jewelry designer) and black, elbow length gloves has been described as ‘ultra-femme’ and ‘classy’. The Givenchy dress was auctioned for nearly $1 million with proceeds being raised to build a school in Calcutta, after Hepburn’s dedication to humanitarian work.

#2 MAÎTRESSE (1976) – LAGERFELD

Maitresse sparked controversy in 1975 for its portrayal of BDSM, something that was talked of so quietly. Karl Lagerfeld truly captures the sexy, feminine and slightly provocative mystique of Ariane in Barbara Schroeder’s, Maitresse. Her skin-tight leather leggings, corsets and silk cape give a dominatrix vibe yet scream high fashion.

#3 AMERICAN GIGOLO (1980) – ARMANI

American Gigolo (1980) aimed to satirize aspects of the growing yuppie (young urban professional) lifestyle. Giorgio Armani created the image of a self-centered, image obsessed man designing pieces such as the signature tan overcoat and tailored suits complete with a coiffed haircut.

#4 BELLE DU JOUR (1967) YVES ST. LAURENT

Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film, Belle du Jour, explores female sexuality with lead character, Severine, working at a high-class brothel to experiment sexually. Yves St. Laurent’s take on the character captures a classy, feminine style, designing cropped peacoats and an icon collared black and white dress. (Wednesday Addams vibes?)

#5 THE GREAT GATSBY (2013) PRADA

For such an extravagant book to movie adaptation, Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby, captured the spirit of the Roaring Twenties. While doing research for the costumes, costume designer Catherine Martin teamed up with Miuccia Prada, looking through the brand’s archives to replicate styles of that era. The dresses, which are very intricate in detail showcases classic East Coast glamour; slightly cropped, A-line and covered in sequins and feathers.

#6 ROMEO + JULIET (1996) PRADA

Yet another acclaimed collaboration between Luhrmann and Prada. Clare Danes’ famous angel costume in the doomed pair’s ill-fated meeting captures a simple, innocent feeling with the clean-cut lines and colour.

#7 BARBARELLA (1968) RABANNE

Great things happen when science fiction and high fashion meet. Rabanne clearly did a great job of capturing Barbarella (Jane Fonda)’s tough, heroine persona with metallic, chrome bodysuits and sheer mini dresses.

#8 THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997) JEAN PAUL GAULTIER

Jean Paul Gaultier is considered a veteran in the world of costume design working with directors such as Almodovar. Gaultier pays specific attention to each of his designs, and is said to have designed over 1000 costumes for the 1997 sci-fi flick. His use of clean, simple colours and clean cuts clearly make a statement of their own.

#9 MARIE ANTOINETTE (2007) MANOLO BLAHNIK

Need we say more? Manolo Blahnik is one of the biggest designers in high-fashion shoes and is known for his intricate and creative shoe designs. His pieces in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette are reminiscent of the late 18th century and of French aristocracy with pastel colours and trims.

#10 AND GOD CREATED WOMAN (1956) BALMAIN

Balmain’s designs stand out for being ultra-femme, sexy and sophisticated. French actress and ‘50s sex symbol, Brigette Bardot was the perfect candidate to model his designs for the 1956 film, And God Created Woman. Her classic red wiggle dress is a trendsetter for sophisticated, sexy evening gowns.

by Ann Marie Elpa
cover photo: screenshot from The Fifth Element