Films in Fashion – 2016

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From crowd favorites to award frontrunners to indie movies, 2016 closed on a high note with movies with some amazing costumes becoming one with the characters sporting them. Informing the characters with fashion choices through the physical self and externalizing it with fashion choices, these movies did just that. Helping actors to bring out the best version of their characters, these movies put their best foot forward.

From the accent to raspy undertones to the elegant style that rivaled the royal counterparts across the ocean, Jackie Kennedy was a picture of elegance and poise to the world – but Natalie Portman and costume designer Madeline Fontaine brought out the frail portrait of the woman behind that facade. With an icon of recent American history, so deeply etched in minds, Madeline Fontaine more than lives up to the challenge, From nailing Jackie O’s signature silhouettes and never-a-hair-out-of-place appearance to especially in recreating the iconic pink suit  – and that too in collaboration with Chanel, who allowed her to use their buttons and signature cording, which Jackie famously wore the day President Kennedy was assassinated, Fontaine’s work in the movie is the perfect onscreen tribute to the former First Lady.


La La Land
The visually enthralling La La land was the the breakout movie of the award season. The contrasts, primary color scheme was an ode to old world Hollywood movies and the technicolor era. Costume designer Mary Zophres went with a contemporary retro look with high waisted pants, wider legs, whimsy shoes for Gosling’s jazz musician and brightly colored dresses and frocks for Emma Stone, contrasting and popping in colors against the background of the scenes she was in, this was just my kind of movie ;). From Vintage skirts, regular silhouettes to some high end dresses, she sports it all, with increase in volume to showcase the progression and arc of her character. Never letting away her skin tone and hair color, the designer made sure it was all in sync perfectly – it was a visual eye candy


Nocturnal Animals
Polished Luxe and dirty wild West come together in this neo noir thriller by designer turned director Tom Ford stretching his directing muscles after A Single Man. Proving tha creativity is fluid, each frame of this movie is meticulously crafted, brilliantly composed and just harmonious. Amy Adams from going young to a successful, rich art gallery owner with her dark lips, high end clothing with pops of color in luxe fabrics playing against her red weave. Contrasting against the art gallery backdrop Amy Adams was perfectly dressed in strong silhouettes and rich jewel tones to soft cashmeres. Getting a costume designer on board Arianne Phillip helps with creating the arc about how Susan presents herself at work or a dinner party with her also cultural and financially elite peers versus exposed while alone in her cavernous home was portrayed brilliantly – none of which was from Tom Ford’s own line.. In contrast, portraying the novel within film which was much more darker and grungy with a cowboy vibe using Western yoke jackets and Western boot-cut slacks, caudroy jackets and flannel had the whole Texan look down to point – and it helped when brilliant actors like Shannon and Gyllenhall embodied them with their characters.


Neon Demon
When the world of fashion meets Perfume and Black Swan, it is bound to astound you hypnotically and that is precisely what this movie does. A movie based on fashion with a psychological twist, how can it not be on my list. From visual effects to set design, the shots were designed editorial. The clothes of course had to match up. Erin Benach collaborated with dependable Armani, dramatic Giles and sexy YSL, with each look going like an ad campaign or an editorial from a magazine giving the movie it’s twisted edge like the costumes. From models in underwear, to photoshoots, the whole choreography in visual medium where everything comes together is just a modern day surreal – it’s like Jim Jarmusch on a fashion high


Hidden Figures
Period movies, while they have the crutches of research and pressure to deliver historical accuracy, however Renee Ehrlich Kalfus managed to put through on the visual canvasm, a palette to compliment to support the stories of these remarkable women. Keeping it professional among the NASA workers, the costumes increased in brightness and prints as the story progressed. Against the black and white men of NASA, Taraji P Henson stands out of the crowd, literally with her costumes and her genius portrayal. Her high heels, the straight pencil skirt, the fitted dresses, the costumes for all three women were corporate yet with a layered identity each of them possessed. Reigning their sass in and expressing it through fashion from prints to separates to bold color choices, these were just nailed perfectly. An appreciation of from the real Katherine Johnson affirms just that she used to wear similar clothes.


Captain Fantastic
Courtney Hoffman’s costumes for an offbeat movie like Captain Fantastic were as quirky as the plot and title of the movie. With the right amount whimsy intermingled with a rough-hewed practicality, her costume edged on part hipster part brilliant added so much to each character. With such colorful and philosophical characters, it is to Hoffman’s credit that she did not downplay any of that, instead made it an extension within what they wear instead of resorting to bare necessities. The earthy color palette was punctuated here and there by burned scarlet, magenta and green within prints and patterns and in fun layering including vests and jackets and silhouettes like onsies for kids. A particular mention of costume and character, fused in the towheaded person of Zaja (Shree Crooks), who alternately wears a boiler suit and a gas mask (“She has this fascination with genocide,” Ms. Hoffman said matter-of-factly) and, at other times, a bobcat hat made from roadkill, which the designer had an Etsy vendor stitch and repurpose. Ms. Hoffman, you are Fantastic.


*Images belong to their respective owners


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