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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fashion Through the Hollywood Lens

Women's Wear Daily just ran an article on Retro Fit: A Look Back on Fashion Films. The article listed vintage film fantasies that portrayed the fashion world. It compared the fashion credibility (Edith Head and Richard Avedon contributed to Audrey Hepburn's 1957 "Funny Face").

It lists the film’s most ridiculous lines (In “The Garment Jungle” 1957, buyer Lee Hacket comments on a dress, “Do notice the movement in the back. It really talks. Back talk is terribly important this season.””My favorite line of course is from “Funny Face” fashion editor Maggie Prescott (rumored to be based on Diana Vreeland). “You’re in the fashion world. We’re cold, artificial and without sentiment. How can you be in love?” It always gets the most laughs among the fashionista crowd.

What of modern films? There was Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter (1994). Panned by critics, it received a lukewarm reception by the garment industry itself. A few designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier and Issey Miyake allowed the cameras in, but the general attitude was that outsiders never did the garment industry justice.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) was a great showcase for Meryl Streep, but beside the great (but not realistic outfits) did anyone get a real sense of working at a fashion publication? The September Issue with the real Anna Wintour took care of that.

Isaac Mizrahi rocked the fashion world with his documentary film “Unzipped!” This was before reality shows and Project Runway. Mizrahi showed the angst, unglamorous details and diva attitudes that lead up to the fashion week show. That runway was the perfect metaphor for the movie. The audience saw all of the backstage action behind a transparent scrim. I myself was on the other side of that scrim, dressing the models. You can see a tiny confused face for a second in between Isaac and Linda Evangelista’s argument.

Low-brow spoof Bruno was probably the latest movie to earn the distaste of style makers. It showed that while many designers are happy for press, they ultimately need to control how they want to be seen.

So tell me darlings… Are you ready for your close-up?

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