15 Fashion Tips We Learned from Oscar Winners
When the 88th Academy Awards are held this Sunday from 5.30 pm local time at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, red carpet fashion will not be the only gowns in the spotlight. The costume designers of the Oscar-nominated films are hoping for their fifteen minutes of fame too.
And rightly so – after all, the outfits of the stars and extras of a film contribute to or even establish its mood. Dresses, colours, cuts and fabrics such as brocade almost always create a courtly atmosphere, fluffy wool emphasises a sense of security and futuristic silver lamé stands for a future world.
In this video (see above), all five films that have been nominated for best costume design are combined in a mash-up that is just over a minute long: Mad Max: Fury Road (design: Jenny Beavan), The Danish Girl (design: Paco Delgado), The Revenant (design: Jacqueline West), Carol (design: Sandy Powell) and Cinderella (design: Sandy Powell).
While watching and re-watching many cult movies that are all extremely stylish in their own ways, we noticed that you can learn a lot from them – about fashion, love and life in general. Enjoy our Oscar countdown. Action!
1. WATER MAKES A FANTASTIC ACCESSORY.
As proven by Anita Eckberg, who in 1960 rose like a nymph from the Trevi Fountain, dressed in a black evening dress. Federico Fellini’s film La Dolce Vita, which was awarded an Oscar for its costume design the same year, was incidentally inspired by the famous “sack dress” (design: Cristóbal Balenciaga), even though the latter never makes an appearance on screen during the epic movie’s 174 minutes. Confusing, yes, but very chic. One more tip about water and washing your cashmere treasures: the Allude Cashmere Clinic offers lots of professional advice. Even without an appointment.
2. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE GREAT WOOL.
Casual bobble hats, rustic peacoats, belted woolen trench coats, scarves and striped college wear – then as now Ali MacGraw’s look in Love Story (1970) was both preppy and inspirational. Calvin Klein thought so as well. For him Ali embodied the “great American style”. High time for a re-see with her and Ryan O’Neal!
3. STAY TRUE TO YOUR STYLE.
… like Diane Keaton did when she starred as Annie Hall (1977) in Woody Allen’s tragicomedy. Many of the film’s masculine styles consisting of baggy trousers, vests and Fedora hats came straight from Keaton’s own wardrobe. And from there, via the movies, started a fashion revolution around the world.
… like costume designer Edith Head, who designed almost all of the outfits worn by the heroines of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers. Including Tippi Hedren in The Birds (1963). While the angry birds hunt her down, she consistently rushes around in a mint-green ‘60s suit, sometimes with, sometimes without an oversized fur coat, lending some glamour to even the greatest moments of horror.
4. FASHION SUPPORTS.
With the movies Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Roman Holiday (1953) Audrey Hepburn hit the fashion jackpot twice. In the former, a somewhat lost and naive country bumpkin becomes something like the Queen of Manhattan, thanks in part to the iconic costumes by Audrey’s longtime friend Hubert de Givenchy. And after the shooting of the fast Italo-comedy, in which she wears all kinds of striking ‘50s outfits while riding on Gregory Peck’s Vespa, film studio Paramount made her a generous parting gift: Audrey was allowed to keep all of her outfits, including jewellery and all accessories.
In our teaser of this year’s Oscar ceremony now it is time for legendary screen divas and their distinctive styles. As a visual preview here is a montage of this year nominees for “Best Cinematography”: Mad Max: Fury Road (camera: John Seale), The Revenant (camera: Emmanuel Lubezki), Sicario (camera: Roger Deakins), Carol (camera: Ed Lachman) and The Hateful Eight (camera: Robert Richardson).
5. BE AHEAD OF THE CURVE.
The late 1960s were in full swing when Jane Fonda as a sexy space warrior, dressed in metallic pantsuits and high boots, defeated the SciFi villains in Barbarella. Most of her costumes, which inspire designers to this day, are credited to Paco Rabanne, although the final designs were created by costume designer Jacques Fonteray.
6. REINVENT YOURSELF.
. … like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour (1967) by Luis Buñuel. As proper housewife she wears the tamed pieces of Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent’s collection, while at night she dresses up as a vamp, wearing his most exciting designs. Double-breasted coats, A-line dresses and, after dark, abundant lingerie.
7. MATCHING COUPLE OUTFITS CAN BE CLASSY.
At least when the couple in question is called Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, united on screen as Bonnie & Clyde in 1967. Their costumes brazenly combine 1930s inspirations with late-sixties styles: berets, midi skirts, tweed, plenty of patterns and delicate knitwear. Rarely did crooks look so gorgeous. Kate Moss and the sisters behind the label Rodarte would agree – all three nominated the road movie as one of their favourite films.
8. MORE IS BETTER. WITH TASTE!
… as in Casino (1995), in which Sharon Stone, as the wife of a gambler, wore one of the most exciting gowns in film history, covered with several pounds of white and gold sequins and weighing an impressive 20 kilos. The producers put a million dollars into the costumes of the Las Vegas drama.
… as in The Fifth Element (1997): For Luc Besson’s visually stunning science fiction action movie Jean Paul Gaultier designed an incredible 954 costumes, of which only one will remain memorable forever – the white bondage ensemble on Milla Jovovich’s supermodel body.
… as in Gone with the Wind (1939): Costume designer Walter Plunkett had to create more than 5,000 individual pieces of clothing, accessories, aprons, scarves and so on for the Civil War epic. As is well known, Scarlett O’Hara’s (Vivien Leigh) famous green velvet dress is sewn by her nanny and housekeeper “Mammy” – from a curtain. An early inspiration for the DIY fashion generation.
9. DON’T BE AFRAID OF MIXING PATTERNS.
The ‘90s cult hit Clueless features a total of 53 different plaid and tartan patterns, including seven designs on ensembles worn by Alicia Silverstone alias “Cher”. On mini dresses, suits, knee socks and other pieces in her walk-in cupboard. And while we’re talking about plaids: Have you seen the cosy plaids by Allude – elegant cashmere blankets in a timeless design? Discover our Home Collection.
10. SPARE NO EXPENSE FOR QUALITY.
Whether on screen or in private, Elizabeth Taylor was not a woman of half measures. As proven by her legendary gem collection as well as many of her films. Above all, Cleopatra (1963), whose Oscar-winning costumes continue to influence fashion collections today. Taylor wore 65 different outfits with a total value of almost 200,000 US dollars. Unforgettable: a cape made of 24-carat gold.
Our little Oscar countdown is in its final lap. As a little bonus here is another mix of all actresses nominated in the category “Best Actress” at the Oscars 2016: Saoirse Ronan (for Brooklyn), Jennifer Lawrence (for Joy), Brie Larson (for Room), Cate Blanchett (for Carol) and Charlotte Rampling (for 45 Years). We keep our fingers crossed!
11. FASHION IS DISCIPLINE.
… as for Julia Roberts: Pretty Woman still owns the famous brown polka-dot dress and, according to her, it still fits, even 16 years after the premiere of the blockbuster movie. Moreover, she says the outfit helps her keep her figure.
… as for Meryl Streep: In the middle of a scene for Out of Africa, a giant beetle crawled into her high-necked shirt and got caught in it. Streep continued playing her role without a flinch and only afterwards tore the shirt off her body to free the insect.
… as for Olivia Newton-John: For the final scene of Grease (1978), the Australian actress swapped innocent ‘50s skirts and jumpers for a skin-tight catsuit and red high heels. And was sewn into her costume for each day of shooting.
12. CAREFULLY BALANCE RETRO STYLES.
For fashion photographers and stylists, The Royal Tenenbaums by director Wes Anderson is still a stroke of genius. We remember a bored-looking Gwyneth Paltrow combining grandmother’s fur coat with a tennis dress and other oddities of the 1970s. But what is stylish even today when used as an accent, can quickly turn into the fashion statement “I’m stuck in a time warp” when worn as a total look.
13. BE SMART AND INVEST IN FASHION.
The white pinafore dress that left Marilyn Monroe standing almost naked on top of a breezy subway grate in The Seven Year Itch (1955) changed owners for an impressive 4.6 million US dollars. Of Dorothy’s red shoes from The Wizard of Oz (1939), however, fewer and fewer remain: For the film multiple pairs were made, only four of which have survived all adversities and thefts. And that with sales prices of up to 500,000 US dollars!
14. SUCCESS COMES DOWN TO OUTFIT.
Perfectly explained by Sigourney Weaver as the mean boss of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl (1988): “Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman”. And so Griffith promptly slips into the legendary power suits with their masculine broad shoulders and boxy cuts – and climbs the career ladder.
15. FASHION IS A QUESTION OF CHARACTER.
… as in Rosemary’s Baby: Roman Polanski’s horror classic from 1968 not only made Mia Farrow’s rebellious pixie hair cut immortal (created by Vidal Sassoon), but also her fashion style, which served as a template for Anthea Sylberts’s costumes. The designer had the hem lengths of the babydoll dresses and nightgowns get increasingly shorter in the course of the film, as a symbol of her growing independence.
… as in Basic Instinct (1992): we do not need to talk about the most infamous scene of this blockbuster movie, but we do need to mention the white dress that Sharon Stone wears in it. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick was inspired by Hitchcock’s leading ladies. She wanted to dress an “icy blonde,” as she later explained. Mission accomplished.
See you at the movies …