Fashion on Film: Five of the Best

Costumes in the movies, it’s an area that’s often overlooked. While many profess the virtues of a director or the talents of the actor, looking objectively at fashion in film is often neglected, despite it often being the feature that really brings a film together. Impact Style have compiled what we think are Five of the Best examples of fashion in films, ones that you might not have thought of to begin with.

It was only in retrospect that we realised the similarities between the film: two share a director, two also share a costume designer, three of the characters have pretty much the same haircut, and all appear within a six year time frame. I like to think this illustrates the talent and trends of the era. So with over two decades worth of film-watching to my name, here are our top five:

5. GHOSTWORLD (2001)



Enid and Rebecca pretty much personify everyone’s latent desire to be simultaneously anti-social yet remarkably witty and charmingly candid. The original hipster look was born with these two, but Enid is the stand out star pre-empting the trend for Buddy Hollys and combat boots. Slogan tees and leopard print micro skirts shouldn’t really work but they just kind of do here and besides, an explanation would probably dilute the too-cool aesthetic. Oooh… so punk.




Whilst admittedly the notion of sexualising 12 year old Mathilda (apparently Natalie Portman just never had an awkward phase…) can seem initially problematic, the complexity of the film’s dynamics renders the issue peripheral meaning we can focus on the guise of Leon’s protégé ‘cleaner’. Her look brilliantly captures the air of the decade and the city yet is also unique to our character – small touches like her choker necklace and razor sharp bob hair cut add a harsh edge to what should be soft and innocent; perfectly emulating her experiences and development.

3. PULP FICTION (1994)



This movie earns its spot for one main reason: Mia Wallace. Sure, Jules and Vincent’s suits are badass but rarely has the simplicity of one look been made so instantly iconic. Perfected with Vincent’s mac hanging off her shoulders, the whole thing is androgynously sexy in an effortless way. The relatively conservative look works well to off-set her defiance and actually kind of makes her OD all the more thrilling. Foaming at the mouth and utterly dishevelled, her style is essential in illustrating the horrific unravelling of scenes to follow.


almost famous


Touring with a rock band in the ‘70s always equates to a wonderful wardrobe. The poster girl for the movie and emblem for the free spirit that defined the decade, Penny Lane is our style icon here. The styling for this movie is pretty exceptional because it almost gets taken for granted, its subtle genius proving only to enhance the movie’s visual value and atmosphere. But don’t be fooled by the generation gap – Isabel Marant’s peasant blouses, Cavalli’s tassels and Miu Miu’s stunning leather calf boots from S/S’12 prove why these well-loved pieces are still part of the fashion canon.

1.     THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997)

Fifth Elemen


The Fifth Element tops this list for gifting us with arguably one of the most innovative design concepts for film, made more exceptional as the utopian aesthetic happened to be the brain child of fashion’s very own enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier.


The beauty lies in its impeccable attention to detail, raw S&M influences and breadth of scope; diversity in class, social group – and indeed species – is illustrated most through his futuristic designs with dual focus on practicality where necessary and outlandish spectacle personified most through the character of Ruby Rhod – whom the couturier stated embodied the ‘Gaultier look’ most. Clear resurgences can be found most recently in Gaultier’s latest couture offerings and Rihanna’s 2009 AMA performance outfit – whilst the rubber orange suspenders remain for the foreseeable future, strictly in the realm of cosplay. Cue disappointed sighs from fashionista-sci-fi fans everywhere.

Amrit Santos

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