Do you think everything we wear comes from fashion runways around the world? Not at all says Franca Sozzani, fashion editor in chief of Vogue Italia magazine who spoke at Stanford University last week. She believes the film industry is the first in line to pay attention to street fashion attitude by bringing it on the silver screen. People look at actors like heroes, take them as a point of interest, revere them and emulate whatever they do, thus the process of transferring fashion from the street to films, from films to runways and from there to the streets again is very easy.
Fashion is the mirror of the time people live in, it reflects all the political climates and economic difficulties a society faces or wealthy moments society accumulates; it reflects fears, culture upheaval, ethnic acceptance, or the positive attitude of a thriving society; it reflects frivolity and revolutionary thinking. Once all these societal behaviors are accepted they will translate in expressions and expressions will translate in fashion for everyday wear as a new natural attitude, says Franca Sozzani.
A gallery of photos from the most famous films supported her speech. In the film The Wild One Marlon Brandon showed off his “bad” attitude by wearing a leather jacket and a white t-shirt riding a motorcycle, something never been done up to that moment and more than fifty years later we are still wearing it, even though is no longer synonymous of rebellion, but casual comfort. In Doctor Zhivago, Julie Christie brought out elegance with the turtleneck and the bearskin fur. In the films La Dolce Vita with Marcello Mastroianni, in Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow with Sofia Loren and in The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman everything was perfect and elegant.
(Photo credits given to the authors)
However, there was a sense of rebellion in air, wearing less clothes to expose more body became acceptable. After a manicured, well-cared elegance came the desire to be free from conventional constrictive fashion, in the film Barbarella with Jane Fonda we saw the nude-look for the first time. The women’s liberation movement influenced fashion designer Paco Rabanne who designed outfits in the style of metal armor. The film didn’t have much success but the nude-look did and continued in a few movies such as Cabaret with Liza Minnelli and Night Porter where women wore long gloves, military hat and very little clothing on their bodies. Rejection of conventional dressing and societal changes brought us the Hippies Styles in the film Yellow Submarine with The Beatles. The famous band really revolutionized the ‘60s youth’s thinking and way of dressing. They brought the long hair for man, the man’s shoes with hills, colorful jackets and pants forcefully rejecting the traditional man’s suit, bolo hats and shirt ties.
In the ‘80s we lived the frivolity of that decade. Women’s shoulders looked so much like football players altered with huge shoulder pads. High coiffed permed hair as high as the Empire State Building on top of loud colors outfits and purple eye shadows distinguished high fashion girls, who also wore leather jackets and lace gloves. Films like Wall Street with Michael Douglas, American Beauty with Kevin Spacey and Working Girls portrayed the selfish greedy of that era and the self-celebration of vanity. Society was doing well in that decade, more was better, glitzy clothes and jewels were the rage until the Grunge Style abolished all that vanity. Elegance and style was lost once again, pants with holes and crotches down the knees marked the behavior of a society that was going towards sloppiness and little care for personal appearance.
In 2008, fashion designer Prada saved women from that careless dressing and returned to dress them with femininity and elegance in the film In The Mood For Love.
Franca Sozzani’s presentation was a skip and a jump between times, styles and changes of attitude. She emphasized that fashion cycles should be a know-how to help designers understand society’s needs better and not a repetition of what has been done through the years. At the question someone in the audience asked about her personal style, Franca Sozzani answered that when she goes to fashion shows and among the guests sees too many shoes of the moment, too many dresses of the moment, or too many of the same color in season, she wishes to dress vintage. This only tells me one thing: fashion is made for “victims” those people who need approval, who need to wear the latest fashion as it was the “uniform” of the day to feel right, without really caring if it fits their personality. Those people need to “fit in” and thanks to them the fashion industry will continue to stay alive.
Exalt one’s personality by wearing the right clothes even when not in fashion is an art and only a few can do it. “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” ~ Coco Chanel. Ciao,
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Valentina Cirasola is a trained Fashion and Interior Designer, working in the USA and Europe. Born in Italy in a family of artists, style surrounded her since the beginning of her life. Her many years of experience led her to offer consultations in both specializations and now she can remodel homes as well as personal images. To better help people in the world she offers consultations online. She is the author of three books. Get your copy of Valentina’s book on colors: ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors on