The Role of the Costume: Iconic Fashion Moments on Film

I believe it was Yves Saint Lauren that said, “Fashions fade, but style is forever”. Nowhere is this truer than in the role of a good costume, immortalised on the silver screen for all time.

Costumes are fundamental for breathing life into a scene and can make all the difference for an actor in figuring out just who their character is, and what they want to achieve. Would Grease have been as memorable without the tight leather and pink lady jackets? What would have happened to Cinderella, if it weren’t for the blue ball gown? Costumes are not merely items of clothing but are a character within themselves and are as important as the words spoken.

Grease. Photo Credit: EW

Costumes are an integral part in the enduring nature of a film’s success and eventual timeless status it achieves with age. Much like a famous quote, “Here’s looking at you kid”, or “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”, a costume is a moment of style and sophistication that leaves a lasting impression on audiences for decades.

From Marilyn Monroe’s white dress moment in The Seven Year Itch, to the robes warn by Hogwarts students in the Harry Potter series, a good costume moment will find itself emulated and worn year after year at Halloween parties, themed gatherings, and in city squares, globally.

The Seven Year Itch. Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Tiffany and Co are one of the biggest jewellers in the world but what is more iconic than Audrey Hepburn dressed in a sleek, black dress, with a pearl-coated neck and coffee cup in hand? The image of Holly Golightly is an image all classic film fans recognise, still being imitated today as seen in HBO’s Big Little Lies.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s/ Big Little Lies. Photo Credit: Vulture

Any 90s girl can tell you that Cher Horowitz’ wardrobe was a topic of envy, making 2-piece plaid dress suits the hottest item, not only then but today. Once again, the look has been paid homage by Iggy Azalea, in the video for her breakout hit Fancy.

Clueless. Photo Credit: Forbes

Millions of costumes have been splashed across our screens since film began but not all of them gain icon status and not all are made to be, much like the characters in them. Until the actor on the screen makes the costume an extension of their own personality, it is merely a piece of cloth. A costume is made to direct and guide the persona on screen. It is a decision maker and an advocate for the characters motivations. If Dorothy Gale hadn’t taken the ruby slippers from the Wicked Witch of the East, there would be no substance for The Wizard of Oz. Costumes have the capability to be the most important plot device and the biggest determining factor for the storyline

The Wizard of Oz. Photo Credit: Giphy

Let us know your favourite costume in the comments below.