The Greatest Fashion Designer Collaborations on Film

Sophia Satchell Baeza,

With the news that Giorgio Armani is going to be kitting out Jodie Foster for her new film, Neill Blomkamp's Elysium, we thought we’d trace our favourite fashion designer collaborations on film. This trend was popularized by designers such as Hubert de Givenchy and Christian Dior, although a recent upsurge in such collaborations (like Prada’s big budget costume design extravaganza on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby) proves this is still very much in vogue.

I asked Gsus Lopez, fashion film director of 'Ephemeral Nature' (winner of the Grand Prix at the fashion and film festival A Shaded View on Fashion Film Barcelona) for his favourite fashion designer collaborations: “Going back to the Hollywood golden era, I think Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn’s collaborations were stunning. But if I had to choose one, it would be YSL and Catherine Deneuve especially in Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour: one of my favourite films of all time and one that changed the history of both fashion and film”

1. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s designs in The Fifth Element (Luc Besson, 1997)

Jean-Paul Gaultier created a total of 954 costumes for Besson’s OTT futuristic sci-fi film The Fifth Element. Harnesses, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich)’s famous white bandage dress, a neon orange tank top worn by Bruce Willis and lilac exposed breast dresses. Expect more rubber than a Trojan condom factory.

2. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s designs in Kika (Pedro Almodóvar, 1993)

Jean-Paul Gaultier and Pedro Almodóvar are regular collaborators, from Gael Garcia Bernal’s incredible ball gown in Bad Education, to the flesh-coloured body stockings of The Skin I Live In. In the incredible Kika, his shocking designs for ultra-vamp Andrea Scarface (“Andrea Caracortada” played by Victoria Abril) include a dress with exploding blood-splattered plastic breasts.

3. Prada collaboration in The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013)

Whatever you made of the film, it’s safe to say that Prada’s designs for Baz Luhrmann’s OTT 3D delirium are pure spectacle. Prada worked with costume designer Catherine Martin (seen in the above clip, via American Vogue), and created 40 looks using examples from the Miu Miu and Prada archive. The final product is glitzier and more daring than Ralph Lauren’s work on Robert Redford’s 1974 film.

4. Coco Chanel’s designs in Les Amants (Louis Malle, 1958)

Samuel Goldwyn reportedly splashed out a million dollars in 1931 to attract Coco Chanel to MGM as head costumier. With Palmy Days (1931), Chanel developed a technique still used today where costumes are remade in each scene to get the best shot. In Louis Malle’s ground-breaking classic, Jeanne Moreau plays the adulteress Jeanne Tournier, in a series of stunning Chanel dresses.  Chanel collaborated on several films including Jean Renoir’s La Regle du jeu, but wasn’t convinced by the Hollywood dream machine, observing that: “Hollywood is the capital of bad taste… and it is vulgar”.

5. Yves St Laurent designs in Belle de Jour (Luis Buñuel, 1967)

Perhaps one of the greatest fashion and film collaborations of all time, Yves St Laurent’s iconic designs emphasize Catherine Deuneuve’s character’s secret double life, and brought out the star’s famous ice queen style and demeanour. In the film, Deneuve plays Severine, a doctor’s wife who is a prostitute by day, and the perfect housewife by night. Stylish Parisian flats, PVC trench coats, and snippets of delicate lingerie figure as hallmarks of Belle de Jour’s style. Together, Deneuve and YSL collaborated on films such as La Chamade (1968), Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Liza (1972) and The Hunger (1983).

6. Ralph Lauren's designs in Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

One of the most iconic screen looks of all time was a real collaboration between Diane Keaton and Ralph Lauren. Annie Hall’s man’s tie was made by Lauren, with the brand receiving a huge rise in sales as women recreated the look. In her autobiography “Then Again”, Keaton writes that: “So I did what Woody said: I wore what I wanted to wear, or, rather, I stole what I wanted to wear from cool-looking women on the streets of New York. Annie’s khaki pants, vests, and tie came from them. I stole the hat from Aurore Clément, Dean Tavoularis’s future wife, who showed up on the set of The Godfather: Part II one day wearing a man’s slouchy bolero pulled down low over her forehead. Aurore’s hat put the finishing touch on the so-called Annie Hall look. Aurore had style, but so did all the street-chic women livening up SoHo in the mid-'70s. They were the real costume designers of Annie Hall”.

7. Giorgio Armani's designs in American Gigolo (Paul Schrader, 1980)

And the award for the best dressed male prostitute goes to… Richard Gere! Giorgio Armani designed Gere’s wardrobe: a lush combination of Italian cotton suits, silk ties, and casuals.

8. Rodarte's designs in Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010)

The design sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte worked closely with Aronovsky to create a stunning array of dramatic costumes, including a regal ballgown, encrusted headpieces, practise tutus and a white feather cape (which never made it to the film). They based Nina (Natalie Portman)’s practise tutu on the ruined skirts of Degas’ bronze ballerina, layering tulle in graduated colors from pale pink to a darker shade of grey. For more info on their inspiration, check out this great piece in Vanity Fair.

9. Arianne Ford’s designs in A Single Man (Tom Ford, 2009)

Gucci fashion designer Tom Ford’s dazzlingly stylish cinematic debut featured Colin Firth as the mourning literature professor George Falconer, and was based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel of the same name. Costume designer Arianne Phillips worked with Tom Ford to create the film's characteristically crisp, retro look. Ford’s stylistic tastes can be seen as an influence in the film, and he would later go on to design a range of sunglasses inspired by George’s in the film.

10. Hubert de Givenchy’s designs in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards, 1961)

Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn had already successfully collaborated on Sabrina (1954) and Funny Face (1957). But Hepburn in a full-length LBD with a cutout back, a beehive and rhinestone tiara, elbow-length black gloves, pearls and oversized black sunglasses, proved to be their definitive fashion cinematic look, changing the way a screen siren looked forever.

Notable Omissions...

• Judge Dredd (costumes by Gianni Versace)
• Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, And Her Lover (costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier)
• Pretty Woman (costumes by Nino Cerutti)
• Funny Face (costumes by Hubert De Givenchy and Edith Head)
• Roger Vadim’s Barbarella (costumes by Paco Rabanne)

For more Fashion in Film...

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