ByMatea Maric, writer at
All you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.
Matea Maric

Costimography may not be the most important aspect of a movie making process, but take all of that fancy or rugged clothes out of the picture and you'll become bothered by the lack of character's personality or that extra something that catches the eye and makes us appreciate film in the first place. Just like in real life, we can't help but to create impressions of someone by what they are wearing.

Strong, independent female characters are the ones standing out because of their actions but also due to their recognizable style which develops through the movie. A lot of them from the list of my favorite fashion film moments are exactly like that - unique, driven, sometimes problematic according to society's conventions. Some of those female portrayals are classically Hollywood and elegant, the others represented as grungy, modern heroines with androgynous features. It was hard to choose which ones I like the most, so here they are in no particular order:

1. Grace Kelly - Rear Window (1954)

Very rich and glamorous and yet simple and not too flashy - that's how the costumes Lisa (played by Grace Kelly) wore in one of 's most prominent features can be described. She changes into five different outfits throughout the film, and each one has become a continuing inspiration for film and fashion references by other artists. Clothing characteristics include long, puffy skirts combined with tight, elegant tops, gloves and pearls, lots of pearls. Red lipstick is always present as well.

2. Uma Thurman - Pulp Fiction (1994)

Mia Wallace is definitely one of the coolest women to appear on the screen, ever. Besides that, her appearance is one of the most copied Halloween looks ever since the movie came out in 1994. In her case, simplicity is the key - apart from the timeless bob hairstyle, the most memorable is the outfit she wears when Vincent takes her out to dinner: white, loose shirt and black pants along with some really cool dancing moves, not even shoes are necessary. This character is attractive and powerful that she doesn't need a shiny, tight dress to make an impression.

3. Olivia Newton-John - Grease (1978)

Fun fact: 'Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into her trousers at the end of the film as the zipper broke. They were put on in the morning and she was not allowed to take them off or go to the restroom while they were on, as the crew would have to waste time sewing them back on.' Her character Sandy is a shy, nice girl who wears long dresses and ponytails, so her appearance in the last scene wearing the black skin tight ensemble brought a certain 'shock' to the first viewers. No other movie outfit has better presented 'good girl' becomes 'a rebel' transition up to this day.

4. Eva Green - Casino Royale (2006)

Fashion and accessories are an important part of the universe, the 2006 sequel was no exception. This one came out with a big change - it was Daniel Craig's first appearance as the leading man of the franchise, but there was also something unique about the Bond girl, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). Vesper's mysterious, intellectual, elegant aura was channeled through the clothes she wore - classic and timeless pieces for the day, and for special occasions and gambling nights - glamorous evening gowns.

5. Mia Farrow - Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski's masterpiece kept us anxious and fidgeting in our seats, but it was all done in a subtle, even playful way while remaining aesthetically superb. Rosemary Woodhouse is a sweet, fragile, polite young woman who happens to be very fashionable - each outfit presents a great example of 60's fashion 'must haves'. Her clothes come in different patterns and fabrics, mini dresses and ballet flats are her most common combination while accessorizing is cut down to a minimum.

Mia Farrow's pixie cut symbolizes the change her character is going through, but has also become one of the signature 60's haircuts and has been copied for decades.

6. Penélope Cruz - Broken Embraces (2009)

All Pedro Almodóvar fans know how much he cares about details like clothes, hair and makeup. Almost every one of his characters can be placed on this list, but I've chosen the one played by internationally acclaimed Penélope Cruz who plays an impressive role of a woman who settles as a mistress of her rich boss - a much older man who is possessive and controlling.

She steals the show every time she appears in a scene with her attractive look, often including over the top makeup, hairstyles, jewelry and expensive clothes which embody her luxurious life in a golden cage.

7. Marilyn Monroe - The Seven Year Itch (1955)

That white dress will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic pieces of clothing in film history. Recreated numerous times and known all over the world even among those who have never seen the movie. It is all thanks to Monroe's charm and ever-present seductiveness that turned her into pop cultural phenomenon in the first place.

At first the infamous scene of her standing on the subway grating was filmed in Manhattan making a spectacle for the crowd that gathered around. Marilyn kept forgetting her lines so the scene was rescheduled for a repeated shoot in the studio. In 2011 the dress was sold on an auction for more than $5.6 million.

8. Mila Jovovich - The Fifth Element (1997)

'Leeloo Dallas Multipass!'

That line made us all fall in love with Jovovich's unique childlike character in Luc Besson's sci-fi action film. Visually captivating, due to special effects that enabled the creation of the 23rd century Earth, along with colorful, sometimes grotesque and very creative costumes designed by high fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. The revealing white bandage-style bodysuit Mila wears at the beginning along with her short orange hair would manage to stand out in any universe in the present or future, so it's no wonder that it became a regular cosplay tribute material.

9. Michelle Pfeiffer - Scarface (1983)

Tony Montana: NOW you're talking to me, Baby!

Elvira: Don't call me "Baby". I'm not your "Baby".

Although De Palma's came out in 1983, the plot takes place in the 70s , hence the costumes and hairstyles are from that era. Elvira Hancock is a cold, elegant and beautiful mob wife whose signature look mainly consists of full length evening strappy dresses with a plunging neckline.

We get to see her in a more formal chic attire - white classic suit she combined with a big hat and fancy sunglasses. The clothes are both extravagant and simple, she stands out as someone coming from an upper class but possesses a certain edge nonetheless. Elvira embodies the queen of the underground look with the always present cigarette in her hand, although as a character she is much more than a blonde princess or a trophy wife like it may seem on the surface.

10. Julia Roberts - Pretty Woman (1990)

Favorite 90s modern fairy tale introduced to the silver screen one of the most appealing red dresses that hasn't been overshadowed ever since. The fancy off-the-shoulder gown paired with white gloves and nice make up presents the character's (Vivian Ward) final stage of transformation from a prostitute to a classy, sophisticated young woman. Her appearance in that costume evokes the Cinderella moment which is always appreciated by the romantic part of our minds. The dress was designed by Marilyn Vance- Straker.

11. Charlize Theron - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The one that certainly pops out from the list but had to be here. A female action movie character who is on an equal level as her male companion and is in no way sexually objectified has to be included.

The franchise always pushed the boundaries with its futuristic traits in costumes, cars, weapons, etc. that had to be included into the apocalyptic storyline, with Jenny Beavan deservingly winning an Oscar for Best Costume Design. Everything Charlize Theron in her role as Imperator Furiosa wears, empowers her, even her prosthetic arm looks cool, even though it seems she feels comfortable with and without it.

12. Christina Ricci - The Addams Family (1991)

Wednesday: I'm a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else.

With her pale skin and dark hair parted into two braids, Wednesday Addams has been a style inspiration for generations of rebellious young girls for decades. Her signature outfit is a black knee-length dress with white pointy collar sticking out. All of us who prefer the dark tones in our wardrobe - in case you own a couple of black shirts/skirts /pants which you tell apart by their 'level of blackness' you're one of us! No matter how many time their story gets to be retold, the Addams family goth, eccentric, twisted aesthetic sense is always a pleasure to watch.

13. Diane Keaton - Annie Hall (1977)

Regularly acknowledged as a style icon, Annie Hall's eclectic and original fashion statements became an important part of film costume history.

It's interesting that the movie's costume designer collaborated closely with the actress Diane Keaton who simply borrowed parts of her personal style to the character she played alongside Woody Allen. Keaton has been known for her androgynous fashion approach, often described as the queen of the 'tomboy style' for wearing wide trousers, long white shirts, vests and men's ties. Lots of layering, slightly over-sized pieces and the bowler hat gave Annie her signature charming, intellectual, yet 'not too serious vibe.'

14. Anita Ekberg - La Dolce Vita (1960)

A screen presence that is hard to forget, seductive in her every move without trying too hard, with a great dose of recklessness - that is the role of an American movie star Sylvia which marks the first part of Federico Fellini's masterpiece. The Swedish actress will forever be remembered for one of cinema's most iconic scenes, the surreal Trevi Fountain sequence. She wore a strapless black evening dress and a fur stole with her blonde hair falling down over her back. Attractive and captivating in every way, but not vulgar, the scenes represent art in its purest form. The styling credit goes to Piero Gherardi – scenography, and costume designer for many other Fellini’s films.

15. Jodie Foster - Taxi Driver (1976)

Fashion designers still channel the, at the time 13 year old, signature look of Jodie Foster in her role as Iris, a teenage prostitute in Martin Scorsese's cult drama. Jodie Foster later recalled how she enjoyed the filming process, but hated the clothes - hot pants, tops, platform sandals, big hats and even bigger sunglasses. She was afraid that her friends would make fun of her afterwards.

16. Helena Bonham Carter - Fight Club (1999)

The girl is infectious human waste, and she's confused and afraid to commit to the wrong thing and so she won't commit to anything.

Probably the one whose face has been shared the most on social media, mostly by teenage girls who are looking for an unconventional role model (I used to be one of them) or simply being overdramatic. The clothes are dark, messy, she's pale with dark circles around her eyes and is constantly 'breathing through a cigarette'. Marla Singer possesses this enigmatic, dark femme fatale aura. The clothing piece that stuck with me the most is the pink bridesmaid dress she claimed she got at a thrift store that made her look like Courtney Love's brunette grunge sister.

17. Anna Karina - A Woman is a Woman (1961)

Une Femme est Une Femme is Jean-Luc Godard's first film shot in color, so there was an emphasis on the costumes and interior design. Angela (played by Anna Karina) loves monochromatic dressing, mostly wears skirts, sweaters with matching stockings and the color that prevails is red. Just like in other Godard films Karina appears in, her signature make up is cat eyeliner that gives her that 'tres chic' look every girl wants to copy.

18. Elizabeth Taylor - Cleopatra (1963)

Before Elizabeth Taylor took the role, Cleopatra as an important historic figure was already well-known for her beauty, seductive nature and a glamorous style that included abundance of jewellery and expensive fabrics... But everyone who watched the 1963 spectacle can't help but to think of Taylor's interpretation on the first mention of the Egyptian ruler. The fun fact is that the make-up artist got sick before the filming of the movie so the dramatic eyeliner and distinct blue eyeshadow were applied by the actress herself.

19. Winona Ryder - Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Winona often transferred her personal minimalistic approach to fashion onto the characters she played. One of the best examples is her portrayal of Susanna Kaysen in psychological drama Girl, Interrupted - where menswear elements were introduced into female wardrobe through Susanna's casual boyish look. Dark pixie cut, trousers, sweaters, striped shirt and oversized jackets are her style's defining pieces.

20. Audrey Hepburn - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

It's difficult to imagine a movie list inspired by fashion without mentioning Audrey Hepburn in the classic Hollywood adaptation of Truman Capote's novella. The original book version of Holy Golightly looked completely different than Hepburn, also the writer was really disappointed when Marilyn Monroe didn't get the part. Today, it is impossible to imagine anyone other than Audrey prancing around in that apartment, singing on the window or organizing chic parties.

Audrey changes into many different beautiful costumes throughout the movie, but the sleeveless satin Givenchy dress she wears at the opening of the movie is the absolute winner, rightfully proclaimed as the most famous "little black dress" of all time. The dress itself may not be complete on its own but when the elbow-length gloves, huge cigarette holder and luxurious string of pearls are added around Holy's neck are added, the result is legendary.

For a long time talented actresses who are turned into fictional heroines of all kinds with the help of stylists and designers have impressed us - proving that the fashion aspect is an important part of the viewer's visual experience.

Do you agree with my list choices, who are your absolute favorites?


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