It takes a film, a star and a designer to build careers and these people below executed the recipe as true sous-chefs of style.
Text: Leonidas Liolios
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1960) – Hubert de Givenchy
One of the strongest and most famous patronages of all time was that formed between the house of French couturier Hubert De Givenchy and the “Who’s that girl” American actress, Audrey Hepburn. Four years before the release of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, a movie that would alter the house’s destiny forever, Audrey stated that only in Hubert’s clothes she feels that unique and self-satisfied. Apart from an ultimate hit and a full-on promo for the french maison, this movie also worked as a trendsetter for the beloved little black dress first introduced in the 1920s by Coco Chanel. It takes some Hollywood glamour though to make something diverse, and Audrey did the thing dressed in a killer Givenchy silk dress paired with pearls and gloves. This look would mark the sophisticated side of the 60s, opposed to the swinging one favored by youthtakers.
Belle de jour (1967) – Yves Saint Laurent
It took a movie and Louis Banuel’s direction for these two people to meet and create an explosion of style that would define the late 60s and 70s bourgeoise chic. Cathrine Deneuve, the blond goddess of the big screen, would become Yves Saint Laurent’s muse and close friend for a lifetime. His designs sealed her personal style, on and off the screen starting with “Belle de jour” in 1967 for which Laurent recruited a wide range of styles. From the safari dress introduced just that year, to his ultra-sophisticated skirt suits and trench coats, Deneuve was a living display doll for YSL that still managed to keep an identity of her own. Banuel wanted for Cathrine an almost-surreal touch of sophistication, to contrast her role’s job as a highly-paid prostitute. Needless to say the movie was a hit, and women around the world were compelled to adopt her looks.
American Gigolo (1980) – Giorgio Armani
This was probably the most successful of promotions via film. Italian designer Giorgio Armani, who has established his own label in 1975 was part of the new wave of cool designer’s/tailors emerging from Italy, who introduced a laid-back version of the classic suit. His version was much more relaxed and instead of having strong padding was light and more body-conscious, in brighter shades and with far more interesting fabrics. Even though his vision was fresh , the Italian maestro did not manage to reach acclaim until Richard Gere dressed as American Gigolo in total Armani menswear. And when I say total, I mean it all the way. From the formal lines to relax/day wear, workwear etc, the whole movie was a parade of the designer’s latest styles. Ever a narcissist, the protagonist would be really careful with what he put on his back and thus a new role model, that of the fashion-aware, sex-appeal baring man would emerge sooner than soon. Sales boomed and Armani made headlines. That was it. A career was built over-night and there was no turning back.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – Vans
The cult sneakers company was established as early as 1966 but the rubber soled shoes were not to become a global fashion until they appeared on the big screen in 1982. Skater’s favorites, they were the ultimate shoes to accompany the crazy tricks performed on and off skateboards. For a company though, it takes much more buyers than some American youth in order to become a megabrand, and those were about to emerge willingly sooner than later. Rock’n roll, sex, teenhood and California was the big thing in a decade that celebrated puberty and rebellion and that movie clearly had it all, plus some crazy hair. Star Sean Penn and his gang were all too cool for school wearing their Vans sneakers and it took nothing more than that for the company to finally become a global label that is until today both standing and trending.
Risky Business (1983) – Ray Ban
True to the 80s fever of the “coming-of-age” phase, “Risky Business”, staring young Tom Cruise would save a company that stood on its own for no less than 46 years from bankruptcy. The plot was nothing more than a home-alone boy, casually obsessed with cars, sex and women, who wanted to have some real fun with a twist chez-il. So it took some charisma and a pair of wayfarer Ray-Bans for him to do so, and ever the easily-influenced, teenagers crowded the stores to get their own piece of Tom Cruise luxury. In contrast to the rest “film x brand” cases, Ray-Ban actually paid for their product to get such coverage, the amount of $50,000, a hideous merit in comparison to the incoming profits. Safe and sound the company had sold 4 million pairs of wayfarers in less than 7 years.
Sex & The City (1998-2004) – Manolo Blahnik
Need I mention Carrie Bradshaw? Well, I don’t. But her charm and unique style was not a result of her work alone, but of the whole team who took-care of a television figure that would define the modern woman of today. Head of that team, our very own half Greek half American Patricia Field, a costume designer who knew exactly how to tell a story of sex, fashion and drinking around in the big city of New York. Sarah Jessica had two big loves. One was Mr.Big, and the other one was shoes. High heels to be exact and especially those with the “Manolo Blahnik tag” on them. Eventually he became famous and soon every woman wanted her own Manolo pair but the designer was as thankful as he was tired to be linked with a TV show. Being around for 40 years as a shoe-maker it was an absolute vindication of all the hard work to finally be accepted as a high-end designer but as it seems Sex & The City took too much credit for it. And as the film adaptation of the series is rumoured to continue Manolo
The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – Prada
Miranda Priestly not only gave us an insight into the tough business of fashion but also a dozen reasons to love Prada. And it’s not like the Italian brand was not cool already, but clearly the sales were never as high as after the film premiered. The Prada bag held by Runway’s big boss became a sensation along with the shoes and clearly overshadowed the rest brands involved (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and more) by getting its place on the very film’s title.