This year fashion is paying an homage to the 1920s as evidenced by Ralph Lauren's Fall 2012 women's and Spring 2013 menswear collections full of cloche hats, pinstripes and flapper insouciance. Downton Abbey receives a significant amount of the credit as does the soon-to-be released The Great Gatsby. Ironically, Lauren designed the men's costumes for the 1974 film, so are his collections an homage to the films or himself?
Film influencing fashion is not a new construct. Remember the proliferation of off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and legwarmers in the 80s inspired by Flashdance? Whenever Annie Hall is mentioned, my mind flashes to Diane Keaton's menswear-inspired look and all the imitators of that style in the 70s. Today designers are defined by who wears their dress on a red carpet. Their PR people live in anxiety for days leading up to events wondering if Star X will ultimately wear the dress down the carpet. Last year when TV star Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries wore a strapless, red Donna Karan dress to the Emmys, it was the dress seen round the world generating on-line photos and press for days afterwards and making it onto several best-dressed lists at year-end. The partnership between fashion and film should never be underestimated as it's mutually beneficial.
What does this mean for filmmakers? Never underestimate the power of a piece of clothing or an accessory. The look of a well-loved or vile character could generate a new trend that will influence and pull additional viewers to your work who might not have been interested before. If you are also the writer, you may feel that you know everything about this character including what he/she would wear, but be open to collaboration with your talent, a costumer or stylist or friends. Most people can instantly tell you what kind of sunglasses Tom Cruise's character wears in Risky Business as he dances in his underwear. The sunglasses are almost as iconic as the scene, but wouldn't it have been out of character if he had been wearing aviators instead?