A pair of fashion designers, a museum curator, a costume designer, a film historian and our fashion critic list their top picks.
Kate and Laura Mulleavy, designers of the Rodarte fashion line
The Mulleavy sisters, known as Rodarte, name-checked “Donnie Darko” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth” as inspirations for their spring 2009 collection. “With film, you get these visual references and concepts and dialogue, which inspire investigation,” Kate says.
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)Growing up, it was the ultimate film. Molly Ringwald had jeans with flowers all over them, and making her own prom dress was both great and a disaster. [Pictured here.]
“Last Year at Marienbad” (1961) The chateau and the clothes are gorgeous. Coco Chanel did all the couture.
“Week-end” (1967) It’s blood-soaked and anti-consumer, but it also celebrates the hierarchy of luxury. The fashion is amazing.
“Hellraiser” (1987) The aesthetics of this movie are amazing, and we just love the look of Pinhead.
“The Garden of the Finzi-Continis” (1970) It’s so chic. Lives are collapsing in this time of political strife, and everyone looks perfect.
Patricia King Hanson, executive editor and project director, AFI Catalog of Feature Films
“The Great Gatsby” (1974): Although perhaps not appealing in an everyday wardrobe, the “Gatsby look” was splashed in all of the magazines in 1974 when the film came out. It was also not long after that Ralph Lauren started to become a household name and that Eastern, American, classic rich look became popular. So the film really set a tone, but it also portrayed the kind of casual clothing, both for men and women, that was to become enormously popular. [Pictured here.]
“Annie Hall” (1977 ): This is probably the most influential film ever made in terms of fashion and personal style. Almost every woman who saw it wanted to dress like Diane Keaton and emulate her style. Very much a 1970s look. Even women who never saw the movie were influenced by the menswear thrown-together look -- even if they didn’t think they were. And it’s still a good look.
“American Gigolo” (1980): The Armani suits Richard Gere wore set the standard for that sophisticated, less structured look. Probably a rare case in which the clothing was much more influential than the movie.
“The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968): When this movie came out, everyone was dressing down and the recent Summer of Love hippie/flower child look was pervasive. Then, suddenly, Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen were dressed to the nines and looked gorgeous. A great example of a film in which both the men’s and the women’s clothing were influential. In this case, even the cars, the house, the glider, all portrayed a kind of lifestyle that was different from what most people experienced.
“Dr. Zhivago” (1965): This is another example of a film in which the whole style package -- the art direction, music and cinematography -- created a look that almost took on a life of its own. We didn’t really wear Zhivago clothing on the street, but that long, lean, Russian-winter look has held on in our memories. We didn’t talk much about makeup, but the straight blond hair, natural makeup and those pale, almost white lipsticked lips were incredibly popular at the time.
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939): For establishing the transformative power of shoes. I mean, really, do women ever stop searching for those ruby red slippers? [Pictured here.]
“Morocco” (1930): Marlene Dietrich in a tuxedo -- androgynous style decades before Yves Saint Laurent designed le smoking tux.
“Gilda” (1946): The black strapless satin Jean Louis gown Rita Hayworth wore for her clothed striptease may be the sexiest film costume of all time. There would have been no Marilyn Monroe and no Madonna without Rita Hayworth. And probably no glut of strapless prom dresses either.
“Auntie Mame” (1958): Everything about this film is chic, from the interiors of Mame’s apartment to her identity-changing outfits. Against the backdrop of the conformist 1950s, her pronouncements, her openness to diverse cultures and lifestyles echo those of the great style queens Diana Vreeland and Gloria Guinness.
“Pillow Talk” (1959) Jean Louis again, but this time he’s dressing Doris Day in 1950s sheath gowns and capri pants, proving that quirky, funny girls can be sexy too. It’s the same fashion rule upon which Barneys New York is founded.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) A primer on women’s wardrobe must-haves -- an LBD (by Givenchy in this film), a string of pearls and a pair of oversized sunglasses. The combination looks as right now as it did 40 years ago.
“Barbarella” (1968) Sci-fi gets seriously sexy, with some help from fashion designer Paco Rabanne. You know Nicolas Ghesquiere has a well-worn copy.
“Grey Gardens” (1975) Skirts worn as capes? Head scarves made of tea towels? Big Edie and Little Edie wear them with as much confidence as they would Paris couture. It’s not fashion, it’s style.
“Taxi Driver” (1976) In her halter tops, short shorts, platform shoes and wide-brimmed hats, Jodie Foster‘s teenage prostitute is the embodiment of the slightly creepy, youthful longing that drives the fashion business.
“Grease” (1978) For the leggings, the killer heels and the unforgettable makeover moment.
“Flashdance” (1983) The picture of ‘80s workout mania that spawned a million ripped sweat shirts.
“The Matrix” (1999) Inspired by ‘80s punk and old-school westerns, the costumes created a new bad-boy uniform, centered around the black trench coat.