Seven Films Influenced by Fashion Designers

Credit: Merrick Morton/Focus Features
Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals. Credit: Merrick Morton/Focus Features

With Tom Ford’s second feature film, Nocturnal Animals, out this month, it had me thinking about how many fashion designers make their way into filmmaking. Both industries often collaborate, but usually it’s getting a well-known filmmaker to direct a fashion ad of some sort. It’s rarer to see a fashion designer take a turn at filmmaking.  Here are few films that I recommend fashion and film fans check out; these are films that are either directed by, about or heavily influenced by notable fashion designers.

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A Single Man

Tom Ford, known mostly for his fashion label, proved to be a more than competent film director with his 2009 film, A Single Man. Starring Colin Firth, this film, like Ford’s clothing, is perfectly tailored to render such visceral emotion. Undoubtedly, this is Firth’s best work, portraying a grieving man living a secret life.

Coco Before Chanel

Coco Chanel may now be known for her iconic tweeds and logo hangbags, but at the time of her rise in the fashion world, she made progressive strides in female fashion. In a male-dominated industry, she adapted men’s styles for women. In the 2009 film, Coco Before Chanel, French actress Audrey Tautou stars as the designer. The film is mostly centered on the early years from Chanel’s life, leading to her career rise. The film may feel like a by-the-books biopic, but it still manages to be an engrossing period piece and a tribute to arguably fashion’s biggest icon.


Saint Laurent

Another biopic focusing on specific part of a designer’s life, Saint Laurent explores the height of Yves Saint Laurent’s career, along with his struggles with the substance abuse, creativity and his relationships. Like Chanel, he also made big changes to women’s fashion by popularizing the first tuxedo for women, “Le Smoking” suit. Gaspard Ulliel gives a captivating performance, and for that alone, it is worth watching this film, which is colorful but kind of hollow too.


The Great Gatsby

If there’s one thing that I had to say was the most remarkable part of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, it was the costuming. Designed by Miuccia Prada, who is the head of Prada and founder of Miu Miu, the film’s costuming added and even enhanced the film’s visuals perfectly depicting the glitz and glam of the period.


Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola enlisted famous shoe designer Manolo Blahnik to create Marie Antoinette’s shoes. The sumptuous film is a real treat, and the costuming is one major aspect that makes it as great as it is. The film does fall victim to being more style than substance, but when everything looks as lavishly good as this, it hardly matters.

The Fifth Element

Definitely one of those hit-or-miss films, Luc Besson’s 1997 sci-fi futuristic film employed designer Jean Paul Gaultier to costume the movie. The outlandish film had a lot to thank Gaultier for, by adding his creative designs to its visual spectacle. It’s one of the few science fiction films that had such distinct style when it comes to costumes. Easily, the most memorable costume is Milla Jovovich’s white bandage style body suit.

Valentino: The Last Emperor

One of the best documentaries on fashion I’ve seen, Valentino: The Last Emperor finds the heart of the industry through the legendary Valentino Garavani. Unexpectedly insightful, funny, and of course, glamorous, the film shows how much passion goes into art and fashion and how time and people have changed the industry. Valentino himself is a charming subject, and his own relationship makes for a poignant documentary.

Which films about fashion do you love the most?


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