Hollywood has been inspiring and shaping both women and men’s style since the silent movie era. Costume designers and film directors have just as much if not more influence over what we wear as fashion designers and indeed, they’ve played an integral role in shaping men’s style over the years. Here’s part 1 of our list of Hollywood movies that have shaped men’s style.
A violent and stylish movie starring Ryan Gosling… and that jacket. With cameos by Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan and Cristina Hendriks…but who are we kidding, it’s all about the jacket. If you like car chases, superhero movies, and good ol’ heists-gone-wrong, you’ll love Drive…and the jacket. With an 80s synthesizer, europop soundtrack which is distinctly Knight Rider-inspired, what Ryan Gosling lacks in dialogue (total running time of his lines is 5 minutes), he makes up for in the style stakes. The white, quilted, satin scorpion jacket acts like a suit of armour and was inspired by Korean souvenir jackets from the 1950s. The scorpion is both an homage to a Kenneth Anger movie ‘Scorpio Rising’ and a reference to the Scorpion and the Frog fable.
This is a stylish sci-fi drama (now there’s two words you don’t often see mentioned together in the same sentence) starring Ethan Hawke and Jude Law about a ‘not so distant future’ where children are conceived through genetic manipulation. What makes this film so visually appealing is that the director’s vision of the fashion future is not blatantly futuristic and employs a more 1940s silhouette than space age metallic suits. The classic, clean, crisp white shirts, simple but well fitted black suits and immaculate hair with a severe side part have inspired collections by designers such as Kris Van Assche of Dior Homme in recent years. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this movie, it’s that the clean lines of a well-fitted suit do great things for the male physique and you shouldn’t leave anything for the swim back! You’ll know what we mean if you’ve seen the movie.
Top Gun 1986
Few accessories have been reborn with more fervor than the Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses. And It’s safe to say Ray Ban’s sales went through the roof following the movie’s success. This classic macho film about advanced student fighter pilots captured the zeitgeist of the brash 1980s. The film may not have provided many opportunities for wardrobe replication on the street, save for maybe the leather bomber jacket, given the cast wore naval uniforms or flying jumpsuits for the most part, but the clean-cut, aviator look of Tom Cruise remains popular today. Great Balls of fire!
Saturday Night Fever 1977
The Bee Gee’s soundtrack and John Travolta’s polyester white suit is indelibly etched into our minds as his character, Tony Manero escapes the boredom of quotidian life in Bay Ridge, to become ‘king of the dance floor’ every Saturday night. Bought off the peg in a cheap men’s clothing store in Brooklyn, the 3 piece white suit had broad lapels, a tight-fitting waistcoat and high waisted flared trousers (with a 28inch waist) and inspired a generation of American men to shift away from the faded blue jeans and shaggy hairstyles of the middle 1970s. The film’s costume designer actually bought several suits, two for Travolta to dance in and two (shorter in the trousers) for Travolta’s shorter stunt double. The Saturday Night Fever trend made the 3 piece white suit, clingy black shirts, gold necklaces and Cuban heels a uniform for young men in the late 1970s, with demand so high that stores struggled to keep up.
Ocean’s 11 1960
Frank Sinatra and his posse are probably the smoothest criminals we have seen to date; Their sophisticated style and rakish ways could be responsible for so many men travelling in groups to Vegas, trying to capture some of the quintessential ‘cool’ of the Rat Pack – “Wolf pack” anyone?
The Ocean’s 11 suave and sophisticated style applies to both the heist itself and how they look onscreen. Tailor to the Rat Pack, JFK, Sidney Poitier, Richard Burton and Rock Hudson, Sy Devore was hired to make the men’s suits in the film. Devore can be credited with many modernisations in American menswear, replacing the boxier cut of 1950s suiting with closer cut suits and narrow lapels and other tailoring tricks that elongated the body, such as buttons that started lower on the jacket and eliminating cuffs on the trousers. This all gave the effect of making the cast look that much taller. Props to George Clooney and his Ocean’s 11 in the 2001 remake – they certainly channel Rat Pack cool.
North By Northwest 1959
An Alfred Hitchcock hit encapsulating, Cold War shadiness, spies, mistaken identity, urbane modernism and that grey suit! Cary Grant is the impeccably dressed ad exec who wouldn’t be out of place on the set of Mad Men. The 3 button grey suit (with rollover lapel and no vents at the back) worn by Cary Grant throughout almost the entire film has often been cited as “the best suit in film history and the most influential on men’s style.” Cary Grant’s grey suit has been used as inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character in Collateral and Ben Affleck’s character in Paycheck. There’s some disagreement as to who tailored this stunning grey suit – it’s either from Savile Row or Quintino of Beverly Hills – but this is no time for transatlantic shears at 10 paces…just admire Grant’s smoothness, even whilst being chased by a crop duster! If you think your clothes don’t matter, why are we still talking about this grey suit nearly 60 years on?
The Philadelphia Story 1940
Cary Grant was one of the true gentlemen actors of his era and a true style icon both of his time and today. Playing Dexter, the alcoholic and unfaithful ex-husband of socialite Katherine Hepburn (whom she later re-marries), Cary Grant looks every inch the well-dressed man-about-town with pinstripes, peaked lapels, pocket squares and a side-part without a hair out of place.
But that’s not all…Check out part 2 for more cinematic inspiration.