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When Fashion Emulates Film

The output can be beautiful and magical when fashion designers reinterpret the style of another era. Ralph Lauren’s 2012 fall/winter collection captured the sparkling optimism of the 1920’s, PPQ channeled the “Swinging 60’s” for the line’s spring/summer 2013 collection with high necklines, jumpsuits, stripes, metallics, and psychedelic prints, and Anna Sui took her inspiration for fall 2012 from a decade not far away to be forgotten- the 1990’s.

It’s common knowledge that the fashions of each decade imitate real life; designs reflect greatly on the economy, culture, and other factors. Fashion in film, too, reflects the time in which the movie is set. What happens, however, when fashion emulates film? In other words- what happens when fashion emulates film emulating life?

Lost in Translation:

Although the results can be beautiful when a designer is inspired by one aspect of history, can that re-glamorization change our perceptions about an entire decade? Films on their own provide a “Hollywood-ized” look at life, and fashion can portray women with unrealistic body types, so what happens when we combine fashion with films?

For starters, we can forget about reality. We forget that “film noir” literally translates to “black film” in French- reflecting the fact that these movies were shot in black and white. We forget what time period film noir, stylish Hollywood crime dramas, expanded- the early 1940’s to the late 1950’s. We think of the classic “femme fatale”, and when we see the glamorous, embellished floor-length gowns from Jenny Packham’s fall/winter 2012 collection, the actual time period for film noir- the 1940’s and 50’s- becomes a far-off dream.

These films did not depict real life during the time period nor did the fashion. We are left with a sparkly, fashionable world very different from reality: war leading to shortages and trends changing from dresses to pants so that women could join the workforce. It turns out that when fashion emulates a genre of film we become more disillusioned with the past than familiar with it.

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