February 16, 2011

Honoring Fashion Week with Cinema's Most Fashionable Films

Fashion Week, from Paris to New York and every city in between, is the bi-annual event, market, and celebration of the world’s most cutting edge fashions of tomorrow. It is a time when editors, stylists, designers, and trendsetters from every angle of the globe come together to define what will be chic and in vogue for the upcoming season. In honor of one of the greatest weeks of the year, we here at MRQE have compiled a list of the most à la mode films of all time--from Carrie Bradshaw to Cher Horowitz, our list of these leading ladies and gentlemen illustrates what defined great fashion.

10. Goodfellas (1990) / The Godfather (1972)

From the cufflinks to the silk ties, high-class gangsters always seem to have the best style. Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic film Goodfellas embodies true "Mob" fashion. Ray Liotta’s character’s Henry Hill is based off a true American mobster and Lucchese crime family member who turned FBI informant and later entered the Witness Protection Program. In this cinematic classic, Henry’s mother sees Henry walking into their home with, as the script calls for, "grey lizard shoes, grey pinstriped trousers, grey silk shirt, Billy Ecksteon collar, yellow silk tie, and double-breasted jacket," and although Henry is beaming, she proclaims "My God! You look like a gangster!" This scene is the epitome of gangster dress--slick, chic, and yet far too tacky. The Godfather can also compete in this category. The way these men dress in this film is the definition of an Italian mobster. These men are smooth talking, smooth dressing, and smooth to pull out their gun. They intimidate others through how they act and dress. Every man wants to be like them and everyone woman wants to be with them.

9. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Anna Wintour will disagree with this next selection due to its honest depiction of her "devilish" ways. Yet, The Devil Wears Prada, which is based off of Lauren Weisberger’s 2003 novel, renders what the true New York City editorial world is like. Anne Hathaway stars as Andy Sachs, the once-frumpy writer who desires to write for a big-name publishing house, paper, or magazine. Sachs, eventually takes on an assistant role for a power fashion magazine editor, leading her to become basically a fashion Barbie--she loses weight, finds her fashion sense, and burns almost every friend she ever had just to "make it" in the fashion world. Aside from the "bitchy" undertone, the fashions in this film are incredible. Patricia Field, the Sex and the City costume designer was asked to present this film. She used a $1 million fashion budget--one-tenth of what she was given for Sex and the City--yet still made this film one of the most expensive fashion productions in cinematic history, scoring every designer from Prada to Chanel to Calvin Klein. With a $35 million budget, and a box office gross revenue of over $326 million, this film was not only wildly success for rendering fashion; it was a fabulous cinematic production as well.

8. Zoolander (2001)

Ben Stiller’s role in the 2001 film Zoolander was both hilarious and quite fashion-forward. Derek Zoolander, played by Stiller, is one of the world’s top male supermodels, though; he is in deep competition with Owen Wilson’s modeling character, Hansel. Famous for his poses from "Blue Steel" to "Le Tigre," Zoolander’s fashions throughout the film are quite eccentric, modish, and distinctive. There are also over 40 cameos of famed fashion designers from Tom Ford to Victoria Beckham to Karl Lagerfeld.

7. Clueless (1995)

Oh, Cher! As a girl growing up in the 1990’s, I personally have to save this as one of the most defining fashionable films I have ever seen. Every girl at my age at some point wanted to be one of the girls in this 1995 flick. Played by Alicia Silverstone, spoiled Valley girl Cher--with her bags that match her nails, to her miniskirts and downright I-know-what-fashion-is-so-get-out-of-my-way persona--is more of a fashion staple than a role model. This girl had it all and got everything that she wanted. She knew how to dress, talk, walk, and act, and was a true fashion inspiration for any girl growing up in the mid-1990s. Clueless truly has gone down as the icon of 1990’s cinematic fashion.

6. The Seven Year Itch (1955)

But how can Cher compete with Helen Sherman, Marilyn Monroe’s character in 1955's The Seven Year Itch? Whether you have, or have not seen this film, everyone knows the classic scene of Monroe standing on a subway grate, holding her haltered white dress down, as a subway passes, blowing her dress over her knees. Indeed, this scene was far too scandalous for its time; and the same can be said of Monroe. She not only was a sex icon, she was a confident, fashion forward woman both in this film, and in life. The screen-shot taken from this film has become one of the most famed images from a film to ever be taken.

5. Annie Hall (1977)

Considered by Roger Ebert to be "just about everyone’s favorite Woody Allen movie," Annie Hall is not only a fabulous film, but also one that defined fashion in the mid-to-late '70s. Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall inspired a more masculine dress; woman’s trousers were introduced, as were over sized blazers, and billowing blouses and boots. It was a unique adaption of men's and women's styles. Believe it or not, Keaton actually personally dressed herself for this role, using her own clothes! She did not need a fashion budget because she was certain enough that her Ralph Lauren inspired style was perfect for the character; oh, and was she right.

4. Pretty in Pink (1986)

Caring on into the next decade, Pretty in Pink is a film that breaks into true 1980's fashion. From Jon Cryer's hat to Molly Ringwald's pink prom dress, every moment of this film reeks of '80s fashion. There is that taste of "tucked-in fashion," with the men’s blazers and tight khakis, as well as woman's conservative, yet seductive kneed dresses and crop-cut hair. Pretty in Pink produced the same reaction for 80's babies as Clueless did in the '90s, and Annie Hall in the '70s--everyone wanted to be like the characters of this film.

3. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

When you think of '70s disco, you're surely to think of Saturday Night Fever, and John Travolta's famous white suit. The film follows Travolta's sleek moves as a Brooklyn boy looking for a way out to "blow off some steam." Sure, this New York City discotheque-inspired film seems corny now, but it was a cult classic in its time. Travolta's style in this film is characterized by both the Italian-American inspiration, as well as that trendy, underground night-life style. Travolta finds the cool center between these two paradoxes and plays the role of a dance floor king exceptionally well.

2. Sex and the City (2008)

With a $10 million fashion budget alone, the first Sex and the City film was the icing on the Sex and the City crowned cake. After six television seasons and 94 episodes on HBO, executive producer Michael Patrick King, thought it was time to produce a final film (too bad it wasn't so final). With over 300 outfits between the four women in only 145 minutes of tape, executive fashion director Patricia Field rose to fame through her definition of how the modern New York woman dressed. This film has been praised by fashion critics for its glamorous storytelling of what New York women are truly like.

1. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Audrey Hepburn is a role model for any fashion-forward thinker. From her sleek black jeans, to her tight black, pearled dress, Hepburn's performance in Breakfast at Tiffany’s puts her at the top of this list as a fashion icon. This film--and Audrey Hepburn, herself--defined elegance in the early 1960’s. It is astonishing that 50 years later, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is still seen as a staple in the fashion world. Every woman who watches this film wants to embody a similar elegance to what Hepburn exudes.

Honorable Mentions:

Atonement (2007)
American Gigolo (1980)
How to Steal a Million (1966)
Factory Girl (2006)
Funny Face (1957)
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Pandora’s Box (1929)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
And God Created Woman (1988)
A Single Man (2009)


  1. Marilyn's character in "The Seven Year Itch" had no name. She was simply referred to as "The Girl". Helen Sherman was the wife of Tom Ewell's character in the film.

  2. Strawberries and ChampagneFebruary 18, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Great list! These are some of my favourite movies!

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