“Just because it’s on-going doesn’t mean you can’t get into the mood,” my editor claims. So, here is our guide to the most iconic fashion movies to gear you up for Fashion Week.
There are some obvious choices when it comes to looking at fashion through movies: Pretty Woman with the red off-the-shoulder gown, Ocean’s Eight set in the Met Gala, and The Devil Wears Prada being a literal cultural reset. Including all of the obvious ones would be groundbreaking (much like florals for spring); let us show you some choices that might skip over your mind when it comes to fashion but that are definitely worth a watch (or a rewatch).
[Hero and featured image credit: The Love Witch (2016), Anna Biller Productions]
10 movies to get you in the mood for Fashion Week
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
Kicking off our guide to the most iconic fashion movie of all time is “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar”. Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo are three New York City drag queens going on a road trip together. If that description doesn’t pique your interest, we don’t know what will. It’s fun, sassy, camp, and so ahead of its time. Plus, the fashion is so extravagant and memorable that the movie has become a staple in gay history.
The Dressmaker (2015)
When it comes to fashion and sewing fashion, The Dressmaker is not talked about nearly enough. The movie is about a fabulous couturier named Tilly who came back to her home town to take care of her sick mother. Armed with her sewing machine, she sets out to seek revenge on everyone in time who wronged her in the past. Honestly, queen behaviour.
Mahogany is about a woman born in not-so-fortunate circumstances who works hard to become a fashion designer, and we all love a good, inspiring rags-to-riches story. The best part, however, is that the lead protagonist is played by the one and only Diana Ross, who also helped designed some of the costumes worn in the film.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Many adore The Great Gatsby for the amazing cinematography, as well as performances by Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio, but it’s definitely a must-watch for fashion lovers. Brooks Brothers supplied the suits, Miuccia Prada and costume designer Catherine Martin designed 40 dresses, and Tiffany & Co. designed the diamond headpieces—all for the adaptation set in the roaring twenties to gag us this hard.
In the Mood for Love (2000)
One of the Hao Lian boys’ favourites—In the Mood for Love features peak 1960s Hong Kong fashion with Western influences. Maggie Cheung steals every scene with her bright qipao dresses, showing show the dress hasn’t lost its touch nor its elegance since when it was popularised during the 1920s. The film being bathed in a red and gold palette also adds to the charm that makes the film so memorable.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Asians don’t come to play when it comes to fancy gatherings—we come to slay. And in a room full of crazy rich Asians, the gowns, the glitz, and the glamour are through the roof. Each dress would fit a red carpet, and the performances by Michelle Yeoh, Astrid Leong, and Awkwafina make this film a fun watch for a night in.
The Witches (2020)
While this new adaptation didn’t get critically-acclaimed reviews, the performances by Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer are sublime as always. The fashion and glamour presented are nods to many style icons from Marilyn Monroe to Jacqueline Kennedy, and taken to another level with exaggerated proportions and bright colours. It’s camp, and you can’t change our minds.
The Love Witch (2016)
The Love Witch is a dark comedy with Samantha Robinson playing Elaine, a beautiful sorceress who uses magic to seduce men and then murders them in cold blood. When she does, she’s sporting mid-century dresses with ruffles, pendants, and striking eyeliner. Anna Biller, the director of the film, also created these looks herself, which makes all the costumes one-of-a-kind, and definitely worth a watch.
The 1990s and 2000s saw a rise in chick flicks and romcoms, which many discount as just fun, shallow movies for young women, but in truth, those films are much more than that. Clueless is an adaptation of Jane Austin’s Emma, and it’s extremely 90s—the tartan prints, mix-and-match two pieces, and headwear so outrageous they look good.
Legally Blonde (2001)
Speaking of iconic chick flicks with quotable dialogue, Legally Blonde deserves a spot on your rewatch list. The film subverts the “dumb blonde” trope and reminds us that you’re not dumbing yourself down in the slightest if you care about fashion or trying to look good for yourself. Be yourself, and keep improving—that’s a great message to end any late-night watch party with.
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