When movies first arrived on the scene, human beings were astonished to see stories in motion. Sure, they didn’t have sound at first, but the fact that a plot could be serialized, reenacted, and recorded on film was a phenomenon back then – and still is today. Hollywood is still finding new and inventive ways of turning vivid imaginations into cinematic gold.
However, even the best-directed scenes or most lavishly appointed backdrops would be nothing without the right actors and costumes to flesh out the story. From incredible period dramas with theatrical ensembles to the fantasy wardrobes of LA teenagers, Savoir Flair rounds up the 25 films with the largest fashion impact in the gallery below.
Every Wes Anderson Movie
Wes Anderson creates the most incredible universes. From Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums to Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, there isn’t a single film from the visionary director that doesn’t deserve to be on this list.
La Dolce Vita
The image of Anita Ekberg dancing in the Trevi Fountain in a form-fitting strapless black gown will forever be a part of the film’s most stylish moments.
Belle de Jour
Luis Bunuel’s classic French film marks the first occasion that actress Catherine Deneuve and designer Yves Saint Laurent worked together to capture bourgeoisie je ne sais quoi for the silver screen.
Clueless idyllically captured the fresh, youthful style of affluent LA teenagers in the 1990s, becoming one of the era’s most iconic films in the process.
Few characters have ever been so strongly associated with a style archetype as Annie Hall, whose offbeat and tomboyish style was underscored by Diane Keaton’s quirky demeanor in the film.
In the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, the fashion establishment – including designers like John Galliano – took a keen interest in how Little Edie Beale put together her fabulously careless outfits by fashioning a skirt from a crochet throw and mashing up contrasting prints. She is considered a fashion icon to this day.
When we think of style icons, Marlene Dietrich and her halo of golden curls in Blonde Venus instantly come to mind. Her role as a cabaret star in the film afforded some pretty spectacular costume moments.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s wardrobe in Scarface (think: barely-there slipdresses, sensual silk gowns, and other hallmarks of early 1980s style) was achingly cool and still looks current to this day.
Picnic at Hanging Rock
We’ve written before about how influential Picnic at Hanging Rock has been on the fashion industry, with its dreamy Victorian-style dresses informing everyone from Alexander McQueen to the Rodarte sisters.
Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
Although it is regarded as a skewering of the fashion industry at the time, what this black-and-white film lacks in substance, it makes up for in style by capturing the 1960s mod movement in eye-popping detail.
This arthouse vampire flick starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve (decked out in YSL, of course), and Susan Sarandon has had a huge impact on the fashion scene over the years, influencing collections by designers like Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen, and Giles Deacon.
A Single Man
When a film is being directed by Tom Ford, one of the most successful and respected fashion designers in the industry, you know the clothes are going to be impeccable. True to form, Colin Firth’s tailored menswear and Julianne Moore’s 1960s mod wardrobe continue to inspire.
Audrey Hepburn is a style icon in her own right, and so many of her films are remembered for their sartorial moments. However, Charade wins it all with a wardrobe entirely made of early 1960s Givenchy.
When a fashion photographer embarks on a shoot at a nearby park only to discover a potential murder going on in the background of his film reel, he is driven to obsession. This film has some significant style moments, including a photo shoot with real-life supermodels Veruschka, Peggy Moffitt, Jane Birkin, and Gillian Hills.
As one of the most expensive blockbuster films of its era, Cleopatra spared no expense when it came to costumes. If you want to drink in some truly amazing early Egyptian fashion moments, Elizabeth Taylor’s OTT headpieces and lavish robes will satisfy on many levels.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Complementary to the portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I’s ascension to the throne and proceeding reign in this film are the jaw-dropping costumes that mimic the extravagant gowns worn by her in the 18th century. The attention to detail throughout (rightfully) won Costume Director Alexandra Byrne an Oscar in the Best Costume Design category.
To Catch a Thief
Like her fashionable peer Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly was spoilt for choice when it came to embodying stylish characters on the silver screen. However, her elegant wardrobe from To Catch A Thief stands shoulders above the rest, with ten separate costumes crafted along the lines of Dior’s “New Look” silhouette. Rumor has it that Kelly wanted to keep everything she wore because the clothes were as gorgeous in person as they were on screen.
“The Heathers” were the original mean girls of cinema, and their cliquish style absolutely captures the spoiled-teen style of the 1980s, right down to the knee socks.
Natalie Portman stepped into the role of a lifetime when she landed the script for Jackie. As the spitting image of the former First Lady, Portman embodied her grace and class in an impeccably tailored wardrobe that is reminiscent of the original icon’s most famous looks.
Sofia Coppola’s anachronistic rendition of Marie Antoinette afforded some of film’s most amazing fashion moments as the spoiled young queen spent her empire’s fortune on frothy, frivolous gowns in one memorable montage after the other.
Last Year at Marienbad
A highlight of French New Wave cinema, Last Year at Marienbad is a surreal and fairly inaccessible film – you either love it or you hate it. However, the clothes designed for Delphine Seyrig by Coco Chanel are easy to love and totally timeless.
The Neon Demon
We can’t deny the magnetic draw of a wide-eyed Elle Fanning playing a supermodel decked in gorgeous clothes, but unfortunately, the film completely lacks coherence or any semblance of a plot. But who cares when the eye candy is this good?
The Virgin Suicides
The Virgin Suicides is a classic coming-of-age movie with a sinister twist, done in a dreamy but unsettling way by Sofia Coppola. The twee innocence of the costuming becomes a stinging reminder of the pain that five sisters suffer because of their parents’ oppressive restrictions.
The Great Gatsby
There have been several film adaptations of F. Scott Fizgerald’s book The Great Gatsby, but none captured the excess of the “Roaring Twenties” quite like Baz Luhrmann’s extravagantly costumed version.
Set in a dusty little town in the outback of Australia, this uncommon tale of revenge is as delicious as the clothes. Kate Winslet, wearing the latest fashions from Paris, is an eye-popping distraction in form-fitting Dior silhouettes and, soon, all of the women in town are suited similarly.