Designer, Movies

Movie Moments: The Designer Connection Part IV

Belle de Jour (1967), Director Luis Buñuel, Designer Yves Saint Laurent.


As in the last Movie Moments post, ‘Funny Face’, this week’s designer collaboration is the product born of a friendship between a young designer and his muse. In this instance, it is Yves Saint Laurent who dresses a very young and beautiful Catherine Deneuve. She plays a wealthy young housewife who is not able to be intimate with her loving husband, but decides to live out her fantasies by becoming a prostitute (it is, after all, a Buñuel film). This she does only by day, hence the name of the film, ‘Belle de Jour’.




Deneuve’s Severine is by turns aloof and sensual as the film explores the boundaries of morality. Her journey is enhanced by Saint Laurent’s impeccable costumes, classic and timeless, with a twist of fetish.




Her bourgeois lifestyle is evident in the precise tailoring of her clothing, something even her colleagues notice, and covet. Her flawless style, from her hair down to her Roger Vivier Pilgrim pumps, speaks volumes about her character. Accordingly, her hair and clothing change as Severigne becomes Belle. Wool gives way to vinyl, rigorous up do’s give way to soft waves. Saint Laurent takes the transformation in his stride, giving us a collection of trendsetting costumes which have become iconic of 60’s style. The safari dress and the schoolgirl inspired outfit for example, continue to influence fashion designers today. I mean, who would say no to any of Severigne’s amazing coats? Eternally chic, and a testament to Yves Saint Laurent’s genius, Severine will continue to be reinvented in glossy mags, providing inspiration for day, or night.



Designer, Movies

Movie Moments: The Designer Connection Part III

Funny Face (1957), Director Stanley Donen, Designer Hubert de Givenchy.


Before there was ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, there was ‘Funny Face’. Yes, yes, yet another Audrey Hepburn film… However, this movie makes this list not so much for Audrey as for fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy. As film lore tells it, Givenchy first met Hepburn for her movie ‘Sabrina’. The film producers had asked Balenciaga for costumes, but being busy with a new collection, he sent them to see his young friend Givenchy. On hearing the name Hepburn, the designer expected to see a certain Katherine who was very famous at the time. Instead, in comes a young Audrey, dressed in ‘small pants and ballet flats’. His gowns fit like a dream, they clicked and became life long friends. He dressed her in life and for every film since, including in this fashion bonanza known as ‘Funny Face’.

In a nutshell, this is a light musical in which a dowdy intellectual is turned into a graceful cover girl by a fashion magazine editor looking for something different. This means several things: there is singing, there is dancing (look out for the utterly awesome ‘Think Pink’ number). There is humour. There is a makeover- there is FASHION. Serious fashion. There is a sequence with an actual high fashion shoot in Paris. Really. And not just any fashion shoot, but one dreamt up by the film’s visual consultant Richard Avedon, and starring Hepburn in a myriad Givenchy gowns. Triple whammy! This fashion shoot spawned some of the most often copied images, even today (woman in a ladylike dress with colourful balloons, anyone?).





In amongst the glamour, Hepburn has time for a dance at a beatnik club dressed in the slim black silhouette (with dreamy loafers!) she made into a worldwide trend. While this look is iconic, it is the Givenchy gowns which shine in this film. There are some real heart wrenchingly stylish moments, culminating in a wonderfully fresh wedding gown (come to think of it, hopeful brides should bookmark this whole film). Watch this film for some mammoth fashion inspo, but be warned- you may be moved to set up an impromptu fashion shoot/show with lengths of fabric and bits from your wardrobe during viewing. Heck, even the couch throw might do.




Designer, Movies

Movie Moments: The Designer Connection Part II



This week’s movie is not exactly a collaboration, but the result of a fashion designer’s foray into film direction. Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, was a self funded labour of love, and is a thing of stunning beauty. It tells the story of an English professor, George Falconer (Colin Firth in an Oscar nominated performance), living in 1960’s Los Angeles, and struggling with the loss of his lover some months prior. The film follows him over the course of a day, the day on which he has decided he will end his life.




Falconer is by nature a fastidious man, rendered clear in his preparations. As he dresses for the day, Ford’s own obsession for detail is evident- he had the professor’s Savile Row suit ‘aged’ to suggest a man who, albeit not affluent, cares about quality. The dresser, his clothes, his desk are laid out just so, the colour palette restricted. The achingly stylish scenes have been likened to fashion ads. I see more than fashionable exactitude- the beautiful scenes become highly emotive if seen through the professor’s eyes, that is, for one final time. Falconer goes through his day believing it will be his last, but his very resolution allows him to finally connect to his surroundings and the people he encounters in a way he has not been able to do since his great loss. It is a journey of desire and despair, isolation and deep longing, of great love. Can you tell how much I LIKE this film??




Tom Ford’s aesthetic is present throughout, in the flawless elegance of every shot and in the polished restraint of the acting (the performances by a ridiculously good looking cast are impeccable).





It is present in the beautiful sets- they searched for months for the right house until coming across the Schaffer House by architect John Lautner, a mid century dream.


And finally, as expected, Ford’s stylistic influence is most definitely present in the costumes. It might have been the amazing team behind TV series Mad Men that carried the costume and design departments, but Ford’s calculated hand is ever present, in every detail, down to the last pink cigarette.



Designer, Movies

Movie Moments: The Designer Connection Part I

If you’re a bit of a fashion nerd like me, you might know that Fashion Weeks around the globe have recently wrapped up. Pouring through the collections while cursing my shallow pockets and wondering if Karl Lagerfeld is indeed human, I got to thinking… How many of these great creatives have lent their considerable talents to the big screen? Pedantic control freak that I am, I compiled my top list, and decided to share it over the next few weeks.

The Fifth Element (1997), Director Luc Besson, Designer Jean-Paul Gaultierkorben_leeloo_01

Other than being perfect fodder for sexy Halloween costumes for those brave enough, The Fifth Element, to me, epitomises nineties fashion. The wanton use of latex and rubber, the not so subtly coloured hair, pearlescent synthetic duds, giant faux fur… if you attended a rave in the nineties, you would have witnessed any or all of these first hand by the dozen. Gaultier took these elements and pumped them up to sci-fi standards to create some of the most iconic costumes in film.sketches_01

Packed with Gaultier’s bondage and debauched Edwardian references, The Fifth Element has become the designer’s most recognisable foray into costume design for film. As he had done previously in The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) and The City Of Lost Children (1995), he designed original costumes for the protagonists, and put the extras in previous collections. Gaultier injected his love of fetish into Milla Jovovich’s Leeloo most, from the thermobandages, to the orange rubber suspender/g-string hybrid she so gleefully accepts (‘ooohhh, tank oo’). Bruce Willis’ character, Korben Dallas, has a more utilitarian costume. However, it doesn’t escape Gaultier’s touch- even Willis had to don some brightly coloured rubber. He must have felt rather relieved to wear a plain tuxedo in the second half of the film! And what a plain tuxedo it is- together with the Japanese girls’ uniforms, they almost look out of place in their conventionality.leeloo_01


One character that doesn’t disappoint is Gary Oldman’s evil Zorg: in his latex pinstripes and opalescent shirts, he takes business chic to another level, regardless of his choice of headgear. The most outlandish outfits however, are reserved for Chris Rock’s Ruby Rhod. Even in the fantasy future of Besson’s mind, celebrities have their very own fashion planet.



Military uniforms are suitably stark, as are the priests’ garbs (my personal favourite- I wanted Vito Cornelius’ woolen coat and his assistant’s rubbery hat). On the other hand, the flight attendants’ skin tight corseted confections, with their carefully placed cutouts, are still resonating today in the bandage dresses hanging in every starlet’s wardrobe. These sexy uniforms and Gaultier’s ever present sailors are still inspiring, 16 years down the track.



Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part VII

The makeover films you’ve been reading about the past few weeks make the top of my list for style inspiration. There are countless makeover movies not mentioned here, but there are certain favourite scenes which warrant acknowledgement. Here they are:


Jamie Lee Curtis’ transformation from timid dowdy housewife to vampy (but still clumsy) secret agent in True Lies (1994, Dir. James Cameron). Who knew what tearing into your Sunday frock and a bit of vase water could do! I vacillate between total awe and absolute embarrassment watching the hotel room scene. You know the one.

The envy inducing sequence in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985, Dir. Amy Heckerling) where the Griswalds shop up a storm and make themselves over Italian style. Postcard perfect!


Frances McDormand’s delicate portrayal of Guinevere Pettigrew (that name… sigh) in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008, Dir. Bharat Nalluri) is divine. Her makeover begins with a silk scarf, a simple gesture. All the same, a new outfit serves only to render seen the tender beauty of a strong resourceful woman.


The many reincarnations of best friends Romy and Michele in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997, Dir. David Mirkin) are close to my heart. I love a matching outfit as much as I love dressing for an occasion, and this movie delivers big time on both those counts. Romy and Michele make themselves over and over and over depending on place and mood. Cute gym outfits? Check. Hot club outfits? Check. Business women’s power outfits (business women’s lunch specials anyone?)? Check and check. Spice Girls eat your heart out.

There you have it. Hollywood makeovers aren’t always serious or stylish (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone? I can’t remember which bled more, my eyes or my ears…), but they are always awesome fun! A couple of hours of gratifying fashionable escapism. A life transformed from the outside in. But while most of us don’t have the means to call on a Hollywood costume designer for our wardrobe rejuvenation, there is help at hand. Seriously fun and chic help. You may or may not want to film your style journey, but you can decidedly star in your own makeover. Catalina’s a Hollywood grade fashion genius. And she promises not to use vase water.



Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part VI



Continuing the makeover excellence from last week’s Pretty Woman is one of my all time favourite guilty pleasures…with one of the best high fashion montages ever AND Meryl Streep (she who can do no wrong), The Devil Wears Prada is makeover gold. A must-watch on your next girls night in. Enjoy X Catalina.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Dir. David Frankel.

Most of you will know this one (the movie or the book. Or both.). Anne Hathaway plays Andy, a frizzy haired young writer who applies for an assistant position at a fashion magazine as a step into serious journalism. This sees her come face to face with film icon Meryl Streep’s formidable Miranda Priestley, feared Editor in Chief, and gives us lesson number one: don’t wear a cerulean jumper to a new job. Also, care about your footwear, but really, just no cerulean. So… a makeover film set in the offices of a glamorous fashion magazine. Who’d have thunk it? It makes all the amazingly expensive outfits to follow a little more believable on an assistant’s wage. And what outfits they are! The fashion montages in this film are drool worthy. We watch naĂŻve Andy find her (very fashionably shod) feet in her new job, thanks in part to softie fashion stylist Nigel (played by the awesome Stanley Tucci), the ability to run in high heels, and some ruthless use of her mobile phone. Success! Or is it? Has she been blinded by the coruscation of couture? Andy has an existential crisis, but, luckily for us, not before she’s provided us with all the fashion eye candy us lowly mere mortals could wish for.



Movie Moments: The Makeover Part II


Last week we were reminded of the pure excellence that is ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ in the makeover movie moments , I must admit it’s now on my re-watch list, again! Now its time for some serious style icon action. Enjoy. X Catalina

Roman Holiday (1953), Dir. William Wyler.

We all know Audrey Hepburn will appear on any movie list regarding style…it’s really just a question of which of her films it is! She has had her fair share of movie makeovers – Funny Face, My Fair Lady, Sabrina… Any of these could appear on this list, but my favourite on screen Audrey transformation is in Roman Holiday.

For starters, she’s a princess! Duh! A very young princess running from her royal duties for a very short while before they swallow her for ever (not an unfamiliar concept even today). Running away and (accidentally) straight into the arms of journalist, Gregory Peck. Now, Peck wears the crap out of any suit you throw at him- tall, dark, handsome and debonair. He looks so good. His photographer friend, not-as-handsome but charming Eddie Albert, takes it into more casual artsy territory with Breton stripes and soft suede. He looks good too. But Audrey shines. And whilst she looks amazing in her princess gowns (so amazing in fact that the whole wardrobe was gifted to her after filming wrapped) she even rocks Peck’s dressing gown with grace. However, it is her appropriation of a plain white shirt and a circle skirt that lets her character develop. Of course she could never really melt into a crowd, but this smart and simple outfit allows her to take in the sights (oh Roma, so beautiful!), drop her guard, grow into a woman, and fall in love. That’s the power of the right outfit! And let’s not forget it gives her the strength to liberate herself from her girly locks, and chop them into what’s possibly the cutest pixie cut in movie history. Cue hordes of women urging their hairdressers’ scissors higher and higher. Because what girl wouldn’t want to be a masquerading princess?


Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover. Part I


Introducing ‘Movie Moments’ to Style and What Not…who doesn’t love a fashionable movie moment? A detail-mad and innately stylish movie buff, guest blogger Monica breaks down “the makeover film” for us, starting with one of my all time favourite 80’s flicks. Enjoy.  X Catalina

The makeover film is popular in Hollywood. And unlike other things in Hollywood, they are seldom just about the physical transformation. They speak to us about attaining a self we’ve previously only yearned for or aspired to, and let’s face it, they are amazing eye candy. On the small screen my favourite Oprah episodes were the makeovers (if you bring these back Oprah, you can save your struggling network…Just sayin’). Watching average people (who looked as if life had not treated them very kindly) completely transform in the space of an hour evokes very singular feelings. Watching these people’s posture and demeanour, their very self worth, change with a bit of a spit and polish is actually pretty amazing. We often forget the power of a little physical renewal as we slog away in our daily routines. If you find yourself in need of a little reinvention inspiration, get thee to the local video shop (I. Am. Old.) and borrow one of these beauties.

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS, (1988), Dir. Frank Ozdirty_rotten_b_02

This movie is ALL about the makeover, over and over in fact. Granted, Michael Caine never really plays anyone other than Michael Caine, but here it’s his ‘Rascal Michael’, my favourite, and Steve Martin is there to make up for any lack of transformation tack from Caine. Their wardrobes and styling are obvious yet flawless in this master of disguise con-caper, much like the ridiculous characters they each play. As it’s an 80’s film, there’s the obligatory bonus training montage as Martin transforms from abrasive American to suave gentleman under Caine’s tutelage, even if only for fleeting moment. The crushed linen gives way to double breasted sharpness, but add an eye patch to fastidious style, and what you get is comedy gold. Clothes (or lack thereof, as the sight of a pasty Steve Martin in tiny speedos burns itself into your retinas) do indeed make the man, any man, when you’re conning the world in this comedy classic.