Importance of Clothing in Art, Film, TV, Music: James Bond

Clothes make the man. When it comes to James Bond, it can also be said that clothes make the spy. Because of the longevity of the Bond film series, we can easily see the evolution of the fashionable modern man through Bond’s suits and accessories.

The Sean Connery Bond of the 60s and 70s had costuming done by a British tailor. The early suits reflected the time and weren’t particularly edgy. Single-breasted in blues and grays, Bond looked great, but you could still tell he was a government worker. In the later part of this period, we get more variety, and Bond’s clothes more reflected the times with wider lapels, more brown and the occasional casual look.

When Roger Moore took over the Bond role in the 1970s, Bond’s look changed again. Gone was any hint of trendiness (less brown, narrower lapels.) This Bond was all about being a classic. Here, we begin to see Bond in both single- and double-breasted jackets. Sport coats and yachting looks also entered his wardrobe. Bond no longer looked like a government operative but more like the rich playboy he often pretended to be in order to get the criminal and the girl.

Timothy Dalton‘s brief stint as Bond was the first attempt to make Bond more rugged. Gone was the high fashion (except when he was wearing a tux.) This Bond was meant to be rough and tumble. The concept and the look never quite worked for the franchise though, and Dalton was quickly replaced with Pierce Brosnan, who revolutionized Bond in subtle ways.

Brosnan’s Bond was a world traveler, and it showed as he was now dressed in Italian suits from Brioni. Casual linen looks were also popular for this Bond, and Brosnan succeeded in blending the slickness of the Moore portrayal with the manliness of the Connery-era Bond.

Daniel Craig currently portrays the sixth incarnation of Bond. He’s perhaps the most physical actor that’s been in the Bond role, doing many of his own stunts and reportedly being repeatedly injured on set. The wardrobe department has offset this bulkier Bond with a dark, conservative, very British look, which Craig somehow manages to make edgy, and casual clothes in light neutral and earth tones to accommodate many of the action sequences.

The Importance of Science Fiction Fashion

Everyone knows that science fiction film and television invariably spawn lots of t-shirts that are cool with geeks. (“Han Shot First” and “Republicans for Voldemort” are just two examples.) The sci-fi genre also has a lot to say about fashion — both mainstream and the avant garde.

From high-tech fabric to body-hugging cuts, science fiction fashion often offers a viewpoint on where we think we’re going. While the body suits in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century may look ridiculous to us as clothes, they’re not much different than many high-tech outfits currently designed for running and other workouts.

But as much as science fiction fashion is often about the presumed future, it’s also often about the now. The miniskirt uniforms in the original Star Trek are just one great example. Miniskirts were high fashion when Star Trek first launched on the airwaves, and clothing the women of the show in them wasn’t just about giving the guys watching at home space babes to look at. The miniskirt was a symbol of the empowered woman.

Science fiction fashion also often speaks to the past, with many films and movies viewing space as a sort of wild west. Both Star Wars and the cult-hit Firefly followed this model and brought us characters dressed in waistcoats, long-suit jackets and fitted pants tucked into boots, in a way that proves all fashion trends manage to come around again in their own time. Meanwhile, the BBC hit Torchwood, features a lead character who always wears a WWII-era British greatcoat.

When it comes to science fiction fashion, Firefly utilized another popular trope, by viewing the future as a world with a distinctly non-western cultural influence. With that in mind, Firefly showcased bright colors and clothes based on many forms of traditional Asian dress including kimonos , sarees and cheongsams, all of which are increasingly seen influencing western fashion as Asian nations gain economic and cultural strength.

Science fiction fashion isn’t just for geeks. Rather it can show anyone interested in fashion history where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going, although not necessarily in that order.

Importance of Clothing in The Devil Wears Prada

While clothes are critical to creating the mood for all movies, films about fashion particularly rely on their costumes to tell the story and impress their audience. This is certainly true of the 2006 flick *The Devil Wears Prada*. Of course, just as the film is largely a caricature of the world of fashion, often the clothes are too.

It’s not that the individual pieces don’t have their great moments. Rather, The Devil Wears Prada combines too many signature elements, making various outfits look too busy, or in some cases, too cliché as logos and signature patterns take over the screen.

That said, The Devil Wears Prada absolutely gets some things right, including showing us, almost by negative example, just how hard it can be to be fashionable. After all, it’s easy to look like you’re trying too hard or your clothes are a costume. To be fashionable, you also have to look comfortable, or at least familiar, with your clothes. If you can’t walk in three-inch heels, don’t wear them.

Some of the cutest looks in The Devil Wears Prada are clearly influenced by menswear. A prep school style blazer paired with fabulous boots and a short, tweed skirt has potential in its mixing of ideas. So does the t weed newsboy cap donned with an otherwise over-accessorized outfit.

But understated and enduring are today’s fashion trends (as is often common in difficult economic times), and the outrageousness of the looks in The Devil Wears Prada are more suited to the crazy consumption of the 1980s.

If you want to take your fashion cues from The Devil Wears Prada don’t try to recreate entire looks or styles from the film. Rather find one item in a costume you enjoyed and use that to build your own look, keeping your ideas focused and understated, so when you catch someone’s eye with your fashion savvy, the image you want them to see is clear.

Importance of Clothing in TV: Gossip Girl

One of the hot new shows for fashion is Gossip Girl, a delightfully trashy drama about privileged teens in New York City. The fashions on the show are so popular that several blogs have already sprung up to document the show’s clothes, hairstyles and makeup.

While much of the show’s look is dependent on exclusive designer names such as Michael Kors , Kate Spade and Juicy Couture , many key items to the show’s style are more pedestrian and familiar than you might expect. For that prep school look, French Toast offers uniform basics, although they’re made for kids and will only fit smaller-sized adults. But gray or navy pleated skirts aren’t that hard to come by, and with the right accessories you can definitely make it into something stunning.

Gossip Girl favors classic looks with lots of color and mostly feminine (the show is a big fan of ties on girls) styles for women, and khakis and sweaters for men. To get the Gossip Girl look, think texture and patterns. Tweeds and corduroy, as well as knits and more sumptuous fabrics like velvet and silk are sure winners. Plaids, stripes and piping, as well as great accessories are critical. And the accessorizing isn’t just limited to women – men need to consider French cuffs in order to show off cuff-links and also will want to have great ties, pocket squares with the right jacket, and if you’re really daring, the oft-seen-on-the-show ascot.

Part of the show’s appeal is also its love of outrageous costuming, which is often showcased during the exclusive parties its characters attend. Whether it’s a themed birthday party (think 1920s or Marie Antoinette) or a high-profile event like the White Party, the fashion of Gossip Girl is driven by special-event looks, which hold particular interest as we enter the holiday season.

Gossip Girl understands that all fashion is costume, and while every look on the show won’t necessarily translate easily to our more mundane lives, the show is a great inspiration to be completely serious about making your wardrobe absolutely playful.

Importance of Fashion in Films: Costume Dramas

Generally when we talk about costume dramas, we mean films involving heavy dresses and corsets that take place well before the 20th century. But this fall two of the biggest costumes dramas to hit the screen are solidly 20th century flicks, and both could have a huge impact on this season’s fashions.

The first is Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, an epic romance that travels across the Australian continent during WWII. Despite Luhrmann’s films being known for their glamour, expect rugged looks, natural colors and masculine styles with feminine tailoring from Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin. Khakis with soft blouses, military influences and riding boots will surely look spectacular on star Nicole Kidman and will likely all be making appearances in wardrobes soon. With Hugh Jackman playing the male lead, there will surely be significant fashion impact for men from this film too.

Set just slightly later is the new Sam Mendes film, Revolutionary Road which is a domestic drama set in 1950s Connecticut. Costumes by Albert Wolsky feature the playful dresses of the era with snug waists and full skirts as well as the delightful, but alluring, more conservative ladies suits of the time. The film, which is garnering lots of attention for its reuniting of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio on the big screen, showcases many of the cultural tensions that began to emerge after WWII and also contains many of the styles that became popular with the rise of the teenager as a social and economic force. Expect to see a 1950s influence in this season’s holiday dresses in both cut and color.

There are plenty of more traditional period epics, such as the rococo saga The Duchess from director Saul Dibb. Staring Keira Knightly, its fashions will surely inspire envy, but translating them to the modern closet will be a more challenging leap, which is why this season’s movie-inspired fashions will be all about the relatively recent past.

Importance of Clothing in Music: The Goth Look

Like many fashion trends, the Goth look comes out of the world of music. While the Goth music scene first came to life as a morbid off-shoot of punk in the late 1970s, it had its heyday in the 1980s with bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy. While the Goth subculture continues to be alive and well today, with many of the original bands still recording even as new ones come in to the scene, where Goth has really left its mark is in fashion.

As with many fashion subcultures, Goth has something of uniform. Gothic fashion frequently involves elaborate outfits, usually but not exclusively, in black. All white outfits, deep reds and rich purples sometimes also enter into play. However, the general aesthetic is one of mourning, and styling is usually borrowed heavily from Victorian or Edwardian fashions. Although more recent fashion trends can also come into play including those of the 1940s and 50s. Luxurious fabrics such as velvet, silk and lace are often popular, and the look is often less revealing than other styles considered a part of youth fashion. Elaborate jewelry and makeup is common for both genders.

While the full Goth look still seems a bit over-the-top for many occasions, Goth has definitely gone mainstream and influenced many designers and lines including John Galliano, Betsy Johnson and Jean-Paul Gaultier . Additionally, as many of the original Goths have gotten older, they’ve developed “office Goth” or “stealth Goth” looks that adhere to parts of the Goth aesthetic, while also fitting in with the more mainstream parts of their lives. This trend has helped bring the Goth fashion statement to the rest of us.

Meanwhile Goth fashion, in and of itself, has split into many subgenres including the coquettish-elegant Gothic, or Lolita-elegant Gothic, an aristocratic look that is popular in Japan. There is also the graver look, which is a cross between Goth and rave fashions, and the techno Goth style, which incorporates futurism and technology into the trend.

Importance of Clothing in Film: All that Jazz in Chicago

With the global financial markets in turmoil, taking a look at the fashions of the 1920s and 30s is almost irresistible. New York City has been filled with events from these decades of late, including a club night called Dances of Vice that celebrates the era, and a multi-day jazz picnic held on Governors Island.

But no matter where you are, it’s easy to take a look at the spectacular fashions of the period, simply by turning to your DVD player and taking a look at the Oscar-winning 2002 movie musical, Chicago. From fabulous flapper dresses to the sensual, structural masterpiece that is Mama’s dress, Chicago highlight the best of the 1920s fashion, in a theatrical, over-the-top way. It’s a great movie to take cues from for everything from sexy Halloween costumes to fun New Year’s Eve formal wear.

When it comes to style, Chicago doesn’t overlook the guys either. Spectacular pin-stripe suits make everyone look thinner, taller and sexier, while the details of vests and pocket watches lend an air of refinement to suits that often feel bold when compared to today’s pattern pallets. When it comes to shoes, the spectacular wingtips on the men should not be missed.

One of the truly great things about Chicago, when it comes to 1920s fashion, is that way it highlights both the clothes that have held our interest for decades and the simpler attire everyday people wore. Not everyone was a flapper, and not every woman was wearing dresses that relied on being slim and minimally curvy. While many people complained about the film’s choice to present the musical numbers as essentially a product of Roxy’s imagination, this strategy allowed costumer designer Colleen Atwood to provide some realism for viewers who are normally uncomfortable with the music genre and to take a look at non-ostentatious clothes from the period. They may not be inspiring to your wardrobe, but they provide a fascinating contrast and a reminder that no period has ever been about high fashion all the time.

Importance of CLothing in Music: New Romantics

Sometimes music is as much about what we wear as it is about what it sounds like. Certainly music scenes have launched fashion trends over and over again. The glam rock of the 1970s, the new romantics of the 1980s and the grunge of the 1990s are among the trend setters. And while each of those styles were peculiar to their moments in time and have largely faded with the passing of their corresponding musical trends, their influence can still be seen in today’s fashion, particularly when it comes to the New Romantics.

The new romantic movement was a British music scene of the early 1980s. It spawned bands like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and Adam and the Ants, and influenced both teen trends and high fashion designers with its mix of elegance and outrageousness. A stylistic outgrowth of glam rock in some ways, new romantic fashion often featured androgynous clothes and make-up on both men (Boy George’s Culture Club also came out of the new romantic scene) and women. The new romantics also had affection for historical clothing. Ruffled shirts were common, as were outfits inspired by the military uniforms of the past. Adam Ant, in particular, was known for wearing a red hussar jacket, while also sporting eyeliner and braids in his hair.

While the more outrageous aspects of the new romantic look have largely fled from mainstream fashion, playing with gender roles and historical fashions remains popular in various youth and alternative cultures including goth and steampunk. In more mainstream fashion, the new romantic influence persists in the form of military and historically inspired fashions for both men and women , and periodic attempts to popularize cosmetics for men. With the recent revival of more mainstream 1980s fashions such as leggings and bubble skirts, it may only be a matter of time before the new romantic look is seen again on both sides of the pond.