Saturday, 10 November 2012

New York City: Fashion in Film

I'm in New York for a few days, catching up with friends and doing a bit of work too - more of that later. But as I was walking around Central Park yesterday, I was reminded of the Jane Fonda movie Barefoot in the Park - one of my favourite films from the 1960s with Fonda and co-star Robert Redford in their prime. She looks amazing in this movie - slinky, energetic and with strawberry-blonde hair piled high on her head.


Here's a selection of movies set in Manhattan with very stylish heroines, from the 1930s to modern day:

Dinner at Eight was released in 1933 - a sharp social satire starring Jean Harlow as a brassy gold-digger draped in stunning Art Deco finery. 



A decade later Katharine Hepburn starred in Woman of the Year (1942), one of the first movies to show a new kind of emancipated heroine on screen, with Hepburn playing opposite Spencer Tracy as colleagues at the same New York newspaper. A professional woman's wardrobe was born: tailored suits, silk blouses and low-heeled pumps.


And then Hitchcock came along and invented the suspense thriller as we now know it. Grace Kelly starred in several of his movies, epitomising the glacial allure that he found so enthralling. Rear Window was released in 1954, starring Kelly and Cary Grant. Edith Head designed the costumes for the movie and a new kind of style icon appeared on screen for the first time: the Park Avenue princess.


The cocktail dress with pearl necklace combo has remained a uniform for decades, seen on the runway every season at Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and in the wardrobes of legendary Manhattan socialite Nan Kempner as well as fictional characters such as Charlotte York from Sex and the City.


In 1955 Marilyn Monroe starred in The Seven Year Itch. Who knew that standing over a New York subway air vent would create one of the most iconic images of the 20th century?


The white halter-neck dress Marilyn wore in this scene sold for $4.6 million at auction last year. It's a classic bombshell look and we have a very similar dress in stock at the moment, to view in our online store please click here

Audrey Hepburn is synonymous with New York chic, thanks to starring roles in two beautifully shot films, Funny Face in 1957 and Breakfast at Tiffany's in 1961. 


Funny Face is set the world of magazine publishing and photographer Richard Avedon was consultant art director. Kay Thompson plays the magazine's fashion editor - this scene is her vision for the new season's colour: 'Think pink!'



In 1960 Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon starred in The Apartment, a so-called 'dirty fairy tale of New York'. It was one of the first movies to tackle the taboo subject of adultery on screen.


Barefoot in the Park (1967) was a very different kind of movie - a lighthearted romantic comedy with the best-looking stars of the time: Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Fonda epitomized carefree post-Pill sexuality and their chemistry leaps off the screen. I love this scene of the newlywed couple walking into the Plaza Hotel on 5th Avenue:



The following year Mia Farrow starred in Rosemary's Baby, directed by Roman Polanski. Mia plays Rosemary Woodhouse, a young wife who has just moved into a vast Gothic Revival 19th century building in Manhattan. The real-life location is The Dakota on the Upper West Side of Manhattan - where John Lennon used to live and the site of his murder in 1980.


Mia's elfin crop and doll-face make-up brought Twiggy's gamine style to the big screen.


Annie Hall was directed by Woody Allen and released in 1977. The film was a love song to the city of New York and created a new kind of urban style icon: Diane Keaton.


Annie Hall's androgynous wardrobe continues to inspire contemporary designers - in particular Ralph Lauren - and provided the theme for an editorial in Vogue Paris last year. Have a look at the pictures here

Desperately Seeking Susan came out in 1985, starring Madonna and Rosanna Arquette. A love-triangle evolves from the personal classifieds of a New York tabloid. 1980s style is the hipster gift that keeps on giving. 


I love this scene from the nightclub - reminds me of my early twenties spent at NagNagNag at The Ghetto in Soho!



No blog about New York movies would be complete without a mention of Working Girl. The real style icons from this film are not the protagonists, but supporting actresses Joan Cusack and Sigourney Weaver.

He doesn't stand a chance.. 

Clothes on Film wrote a great blog on the culture of power dressing in Working Girl - to read online click here.

Then Sex and the City came along. Manhattan was the fifth character of the series, with great attention given to the skyline and surroundings. Local landmarks, restaurants, parks, nightspots and even churches were featured throughout the entire series.




This is just a small selection of the many fantastic movies set in New York. Click through for clips of stylish heroines from Dancing Lady (1933), All About Eve (1950), How To Marry A Millionaire (1953), Sabrina (1954), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), North by Northwest (1959), The Best of Everything (1959), Butterfield 8 (1960), Klute (1971) and The Way We Were (1975). 

I'm planning on doing a blog about style icons from London-based films in the next month or so. All suggestions welcome, please add in the comments.

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