The tradition of fashion in the film industry reaches back to its very beginnings. As soon as the first leading lady stepped onscreen, she became known for her sense of style. In fact, many of our current and past fashion icons made their mark by showing off their trend-setting look on film. The question is, when did the marriage between film and fashion begin?
From Costumes to Everyday Wear—Film Fashions Through Time
When filmmaking first began in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they were silent films filled with interesting costumes. The drama required in early films was reminiscent of that which was seen in theaters at the time, which meant the styles were far different from everyday wear. As movie making progressed into a popular source of entertainment, which was more easily accessible, actors began to take on more realistic personas.
As this transition occurred, distinct differences in costuming could be noted. What was once seen as ornate costuming meant to steal the show on the silent screen became a more accessible style that could be found in fashion houses. Leading ladies and men alike would begin to don styles that were common to the people watching the films. Trendsetters were now seen onscreen and the styles they wore would become the latest fashions.
From On Screen to Off the Rack
As this transition occurred in the movie industry, fashion houses began to see the powerful advertising tool films could be. Movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor would emerge in the 20th Century as fashion icons. The careful selection of accessible styles the audience could find in their own towns would change movies from a simple source of entertainment to a powerful marketing tool used to influence the public.
As movie making continued to grow throughout the 20th Century, the role of fashion in film would flourish. No longer a matter of creating one of a kind costumes for performers to wear, costuming in movies is about building a character the audience can relate to. Fashion is one of many tools used to build a character and generate a connection to the audience. Today’s fashion-forward stars make their mark in film and on the red carpet, their fashion choices creating a stir wherever they go. As costume design continues to evolve, the film industry continues to influence the style choices of audiences worldwide.