BY CARLY BRECHNER
Hollywood, Starring the Runway
No combination is more iconic than fashion and film. When fused, they create an alluring and entrancing environment filled with the best-dressed characters and most interesting stories. The moment the lights dim and the fanfare begins, audiences escape everyday life and indulge in a world of glamor, style, and history that never fails to entertain.
As defined by the LA Fashion Festival, a fashion film “often feature[s] fashion in the lead role or as a supporting character.” In these movies, fashion is more than the costumes. It’s the core of the film. It can manifest as the industry someone is working in, the style they desire, or even the star of the film attracting more attention than the actors themselves.
What differentiates fashion movies from every other genre? For starters, they appeal to every generation, community, location worldwide, and genre, making them one of the most successful types of films. Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face is a timeless classic that earned the highest nomination at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. The family-friendly fashion-focused Disney film, Cruella, surpassed $200 million worldwide in its opening weeks and gained nearly perfect ratings from fans.
Another reason fashion movies are so popular is that they fulfill curiosity about the elusive and exclusive fashion world. The Devil Wears Prada and 13 Going on 30 tell fictional stories of major fashion magazines. As much as Zoolander is a satirical comedy, it highlights the influence of fashion moguls and the modeling industry. Documentary-style films including Halston and Coco Before Chanel detail the histories of those who’ve shaped the industry. Movie scenes take audiences behind the scenes of fashion enterprises, inspiring interest, curiosity, and a desire to keep watching.
In addition to audiences and critics, brands favor fashion films. A biographical telling of the fashion empire, House of Gucci not only had the best box office opening for a drama in two years, but it also increased awareness for the company itself. After its premiere in November, online fashion retailer Lovethesales reported a 257% increase in searches for Gucci bags, a 73% jump in searches for Gucci clothes, and a 75% rise in interest in Gucci slides. Apps such as Seek now allow audiences to shop the outfits from the House of Gucci along with other films emphasizing the popularity of product placement. House of Gucci is just one example of how movies — even if they are not directly sponsored— can create dialogue, media influence, and a rise in popularity for brands.
It’s no coincidence Hollywood produces fashion films time and time again. They can be idealized or realistic, fun or serious, fantasy or history. They provide insights into the fashion industry and tell stories of those behind the clothes. With their glamor and beauty, audiences enter a world that transforms them with style. These movies show the world that fashion is so much more than just costumes. Fashion is the star of the film.