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The most iconic fashion moments in film

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Fashion and film often go hand in hand, some of the biggest events in the fashion calendar are awards ceremonies where the film is celebrated. 

This month marks the return of Cannes Film Festival, and to celebrate we're taking a trip down memory lane and looking at the most iconic on-screen looks in film history. 

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Image credit: Trailer screenshot, via Wikimedia Commons


From Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly to Diane Keaton as Annie Hall, fashion places a huge part in shaping a character - and it's often the outfits that we remember when we've left the cinema. Costume designers don't get the credit that they deserve, but they help create and shape a character just as much as the director does. 

How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days (2003)

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When Kate Hudson as Andie Anderson saunters down the stairs in a sunshine yellow satin dress. Despite the rest of the outfits in the film being slightly questionable (the early 2000s were a dark time for style), this dress really is one that has withstood the test of time. Designed by the film's costume designer Karen Patch, the backless dress was teamed with the $5 million Isadora diamond from Harry Winston.

The dress is also present in the famous "You can't lose something you never had!" breakup scene. If you're going to get dumped at least do it whilst dripping in Harry Winston.

Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961)

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It would be immoral to do a list of the best film looks without including this one. Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly walking down the streets of Fifth Avenue, clad in Givenchy, is a truly iconic moment in pop culture. The entire wardrobe in the film is incredible, with Hepburn switching through an array of Givenchy looks. 

In 2006, over four decades after the film was released, the floor-length silk black dress sold at auction for £467,200!

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

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"Are you wearing the Ch-" "Chanel boots? Yeah, I am!" When Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), the dowdy, put-upon assistant to Miranda Priestley, returns to the office dresses head to toe in designer brands, her fellow assistant Emily (Emily Blunt) can't believe her eyes. The chic blazer and mini skirt combo were a far cry away from Andy 'Can you please spell Gabanna?' Sach's usual wardrobe.

The stand-out piece was of course THE.CHANEL.BOOTS - a pair of thigh-high leather stilettos that cemented her transition from not to hot.

Atonement (2007)

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Created by costume designer Jacqueline Durran, the green dress that Keira Knightley wears in Atonement is one of the most beloved onscreen dresses of all time. Set in the 1930s, the dress is modern but still true to the era. A backless gown held together with tiny spaghetti straps, and of course the incredible emerald green fabric.

Green is not a popular choice on screen, but according to Durran the film's director Joe Wright specifically requested it.

Clueless (1995)

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A best fashion moments in film list without mentioning Clueless? AS IF! When the film was released in the mid-nineties Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) became an instant fashion icon. The film's costumes were created by Mona May, but this suit in question was a Dolce & Gabbana original.

The yellow plaid suit she wears in the film was replicated by Iggy Azalea for her Fancy music video, and it's a favourite for celebrities come Halloween.

The Seven Year Itch (1955)

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Another cult classic look is this one from Marilyn Monroe. The white gown she wears in The Seven Year Itch as synonymous with Monroe as her blonde hair. The scene where Monroe stands over a New York subway crate and struggles to sustain her modesty is one of the most iconic in cinematic history.

Designed by William Travilla, who dismissed it as "that silly little dress", it sold for $4.6 million at auction back in 2011.

The Graduate (1967)

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The scene where Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) screams "Elaaaaaaine!!!!" at the top of his voice in the attempt to stop the wedding of his former girlfriend is one of infamy. When Elaine Robinson (Katherine Ross) ditches her husband to be and runs off with Benjamin (even though he's been sleeping with her mother) her dress is what steals the show.

As the original runaway bride, Elaine wears a long-sleeved lace dress, complete with a veil, created by the film's costume designer Patricia Zipprodt.

She's All That (1999)

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What is a 90s romantic comedy without a dramatic makeover montage scene? After Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) is transformed into prom queen material, her big reveal shows her walking down the stairs in slow motion to Six Pence None The Richer's Kiss Me. The red mini dress she wears is quintessentially 90s, but is a look that we wouldn't mind wearing these days! 

Lady Bird (2017)

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A modern classic, the outfits in Lady Bird are just perfect. When Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) finally ditches her no good boyfriend (the 'hella tight' Kyle, played by Timothee Chalamet) and makes up with her BFF Julie (Beanie Feldstein), all eyes are on the outfits. In the film, Ladybird finds her perfect dress at the thrift store in amongst a heated argument with her mother.

The pink prom dress is ostentatious and over the top, true to the 2002 setting. Costume designer April Napier said she looked to shows such as Dawson's Creek for her inspiration.

Romeo and Juliet (1996)

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"For never was story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo." One thing that wasn't woeful in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the classic tale was the costumes. Although the film stayed faithful to the play in terms of the script, the costumes and music were much more modern.

The scene where Romeo (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) first meet is one that has gone down in fashion history. Juliet is dressed as an angel, in a white dress complete with wings - whilst Romeo is her literal knight in shining armour. Divine. 

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

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Wes Anderson's films often skyrocket to cult status, and The Royal Tenenbaums was no exception. Gwyneth Paltrow's stint as the aloof Margot Tenenbaum is perhaps her most iconic role. The fur coat, Lacoste polo dress and Hermes Birkin bag are a dream combination and it's not hard to see how she's become such a well-loved character. 

Grease (1978)

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When Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) finally said goodbye to her good girl Sandra Dee persona and rocked up to Danny in a full leather look complete with red lipstick and a blow dry... we knew she meant business. The trousers were so tight that Newton-John had to be sewn into them.

Despite the films' questionable morals (never change yourself for a man... ever) this look is one we'll never forget.

Pretty Woman (1990)

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Pretty Woman is one of those films where any one of the lead characters' outfits could appear on this list. For her role as Vivien, Julia Robert's most iconic look could be one of many. There's the brown polka dot dress at the races, and the dress she wears to stomp into the shop on Rodeo Drive and tell them they've made "a big mistake...HUGE." 

The most memorable outfit, however, is the one she wears at the very beginning. Tye dye, a ring cut out, blonde wig and thigh high boots - it's SO 90s and SO good.

The Notebook (2004)

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Just thinking about the scene where Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) reunite after years apart could bring a tear to the dryest of eyes. The scene has everything you'd want from a romantic drama, and of course, ends with a dramatic kiss in the rain. The best part, however? Allie's dress. 

The powder blue button-down pencil dress worn by McAdams is typical of the 1940s setting, and earlier in the film she wears it with a matching headscarf. Despite the restrictive style of the tight skirt, Allie still manages to run absolutely everywhere - so not only is it chic, it's practical too. 

Sex and The City: The Movie (2008)

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Characters don't come more stylish than Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah-Jessica Parker) and her most famous look actually comes from the spin-off film rather than the series. When Mr Big (Chris Noth) proposes to Carrie using a pair of shoes, he, of course, chooses Manolo Blahniks. They might not technically be a full outfit, but the sapphire blue Hangisi pumps have reached icon status, and it's all thanks to SATC.

We can't think of anything better than being proposed to with a pair of Manolos, but one person who wasn't a fan of the scene was Chris Noth. "I really hate corny stuff and it could be because I'm a little bit of a cynic. Like, the whole thing at the end of the movie in the shoe closet - hated it" 

Annie Hall (1977)

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Questionable director aside, Annie Hall is a character whose style choices inspired a whole generation. Fashion designer Alexa Chung has cited Diane Keaton's seminal character as one of her fashion inspirations.

Annie Hall's masculine style takes androgynous to a new level, and she wears three-piece suits complete with a tie as casual wear. She was the original 'cool girl' and her wardrobe is a big reason for that.

Mamma Mia!

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Hands up if you bought a pair of dungarees after watching Mamma Mia!? Before Lily James took on the role of Donna Sheridan, her dungarees were filled by acting legend Meryl Streep.

Her waist-length blonde hair, laid back linen shirts and bare feet make us want to drop everything and move to Greece immediately. 

These are just a few of the most iconic looks on the silver screen - there are of course many more, and will continue to be more for as long as cinema exists. It's hard to choose favourites, but it's pretty hard to beat that green dress from Atonement.

Lead image credit: Classic Film, via Flickr




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