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Hitchcock and fashion

Ok Hitchcock may not be the fashion icon that come to our minds when we always associated style in the movies with well..the stars like Audrey Hepburn or Johnny Depp.. However his films like Rear Window, Vertigo and A man who knew too much will be in the list of films that have style. Who remember Grace Kelly’s gorgeous dress that she got from the runaways of Paris in Rear Window or Cary Grant’s saville row suits and perhaps tippa’s green suit in the birds? I do and today I will be looking on how Hitch’s films influence fashion designers in creating collections.

Now let’s look at the process of how Edith Head collaborate with Hitchcock in his films,it was seen that both are on the same page when it comes to fashion taste and it was Hitch’s films that show her best works. In the blog post “LFF blog: The same cloth – Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock” Edith Head was ostracized for her conservative taste in design,in Hollywood but it was that conservative taste that make Head “an education in restraint“. She sees costume as a narrative device even to the littlest details,l remember that I was researching on Rear Window’s costumes,that Grace Kelly’s bracelet is somewhat similar to Ms Lonleyhearts which hinted a possible outcome for the relationship between Lisa and Jeff.

Or that suit that Madeline wore Iris Versey commented in her article “Costume & Identity in Hitchcock’s Vertigo” -“Madeleine is ultimately sexually unavailable. Scottie can never discover what Madeleine is like outside the drawing-room, not because she dies, but because ‘Madeleine’ does not exist. The costumes enhance this unavailability. They may fit and flatter, but they conceal Madeleine’s flesh beneath neat buttons and sharp tailoring.” It shows her restrained desire she gave to Scottie and also added that mysterious aura.

It was that power Hitchcock gave to his characters by their costumes that etched in our minds.

Now let’s look towards the present on how Hitch influence today’s fashion

Jill Sander did a playful twist with Hitchcockian fashion,with those sherbet colors.

Dolce and Gabanna hark back at the ladies,with the tweed suits which remind me of Vertigo.

Michael Kors based his fall 2008 collection on Melanie’s socialite clothing from The Birds.

While Kors goes for the subtle route for The birds,David Dixon did an interesting approach for the Birds by making the pheasant feathers as brooches (I would not mind getting one of them!).

Perhaps the only fashion that executed Hitchcock’s vision so well,is the late Alexander McQueen himself. There are two collections inspired by Hitchcock films his S/S 2001 (He was inspired by The Birds)

And then again his collection for S/S 2005 The Man Who Knew Too Much

I love the way he managed to borrow inspiration and executed beautifully in his exquisite tailoring.

And recently I found out that recently beauty products/looks are inspired by the icy Hitchcockian heroines!

Chanel Fall 2012 nail polish.

Well the men are wonderfully dressed in Hitchcock films,besides the ladies themselves. Cary Grant,Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart are wonderfully dressed and perhaps my ideal image of a perfect man.

My favourite men’s fashion moment in all of Hitchcock films,besides its well-taliored suits

Cary Grant’s casual outfit from To Catch a Thief,to me it was perfectly tres chic. A simple striped shirt and a red handkerchief to cover his neck,I don’t know why it shows Robie’s character as man who left his flamboyant days as a cat burglar. I read it somewhere that it hides Cary’s thick neck,as he disliked it and Cary Grant even trusted Hitchcock in his dressing. It was that eye of detail that make his films so classic apart from his clever storytelling.

Perhaps that is why people remember Hitchcock films so well,it was the high amount on detail in costume which the Hollywood moguls often neglected that made his films so classic. That amount of tailoring give to each character suits their character status so perfectly. Maybe that is why most fashion designers look back at his films as inspiration for their collections. It was the balance of ice and fire that make the designers intrigued by that wonderful world of Hitchcock


Kaneda without a Cause

After watching Akira (1988) by Katsuhiro Otomo,I did some reading in IMDB and they say they are connected by Rebel Without A Cause (1955). I thought “hmmm” and I thought of that brillant idea to compare the quintessential 1950’s teenage classic to the anime film Akira. They may be made in different countries and different directors but I feel that both are interlinked in similar ways. So this will be my review/comparison topic for today.

Now I will brief you on the stories of these films

I find this a challenge to summarise Akira because it was pretty complex,so here I go-Set in 2019 Neo-Tokyo. That country suffered the effects of a nuclear bombing from WW3. Anyway we met our two protagonists-Tetsuo and Kaneda,so Tetsuo was sent to a secret venue where he was implanted with supernatural powers that could be equated to God. However he went berserk and his only friend Kaneda have to rescue the world from destruction. This film was a cult-classic and perhaps  catalyzed the love and obsession of anime in the West. This film made Katsuhiro Otomo a name to remembered in the anime world and so many people are influenced by his works.

Now to Rebel Without a Cause,the arch-typical teenage film in the 1950’s. It was a simple story about Jimmy (Played by the amazing James Dean) who have some problems in relating to society and his parents wanted to do anything in order to fit in. It gained it cult status because of James’s sudden death before the première. He was perhaps the model of the teenage-hood during the 50’s:Wayward and perhaps insecure as executed by James Dean’s sheer acting.

O.K if I just mention James Dean,everyone would totally think of that image of James Dean wearing that red wind-breaker with the simplest t-shirt and jeans. It was rebellious and it was so classic that I wanted to emulate in my dressing for myself. Actually Ray wanted to make this film in Black and White,however when Ray tried colour film-they have to think quickly for Jim’s outfit. Rumours said that he bought it from a Red Cross outfit and that is how it was born.

While James Dean have that famous jacket,Kaneda have his own red motorcycle suit.Well expect he have the capsule pill on his back which will be the recurring motif for the film on the psychic kids have to be dependent on medicine. It was interesting that it could be linked to imperialism as the japanese flag have the red sun as their motif. Even his motorcycle was also red too,if you are not wowed by that famous scene when Kaneda drove his motorcycle. Then I don’t know who would it be. I think Otomo subconsciously used that jacket image we get from James Dean to bring his idea about the alienated youth.

Secondly it was the complexity of the relationship between Plato and Jimbo can be similar to Tetsuo and Kaneda. We know that both came from dsyfunctional families.In Rebel Without a Cause for Jim-he have the difficulty to relate to his father who was passive. According to Senses of Cinema article “Finding the Father: A Psychoanalytic Study of Rebel Without a Cause”-Chris Wood added that ” his father lacks the courage to act upon it. For Jim, even the word “chicken” sends him into violent bursts, as it conjures up negative images of his father, who is “hen-pecked” by Jim’s mother. “She eats him alive,” Jim tells Juvenile Officer Ray, “and he takes it. He always wants to be my pal…If he had the guts to knock Mom cold once, then maybe she’d be happy…I’d never want to be like him.” He added his case with an analysis from Vicky Lebeau on Dean’s character that there is a “‘palpable desire’ for parental authority, and the alternative family set up by the adolescent rebel.” On the otherhand Plato’s father could be either absent or deceased,he craved that attention from the parents that Chris added that the acting of murdering the puppies could be seen as “Plato’s scrutiny of, and contempt for, any paternal gesture of kindness.” So they co-related each other as they wanted to have a secure family and a paternal feeling. It could be almost sexual as many theorised Rebel Without a Cause in regards to teh relationship between Plato and Jim. That energy was also felt in the set itself as recounted by Sal Mieno (Plato) on working his co-actor James Dean “I was in incredible awe of him. I was fascinated by him. I think it was sexual to an extent, but I had no idea or any understanding of affection between men. I really gave him hero worship, and I recognized later what it was, but the feeling then was that I couldn’t wait to just get near him… It was only years later that I understood I was incredibly in love with him.”

On the other-hand Akira is very different from Rebel Without a Cause if Plato really depended on Jim to be the fatherly figure that he could not have, Testsuo wanted to rebel from Kaneda-the father figure. In one scene when Tetsuo kept on punching one the Clowns bike gang member as a form of revenge,Kanada try to intervene the meaningless killing-“Do you wanted to get him killed,that is enough” and there he attacked him back “Do you know I was let-down,I don’t want you to protect me.” It seems that Testsuo desired the parental power that Kaneda have,he keep on swearing that he would acquaint with that power. Of he did through the “experiement” in the lab and he did gain that power. However it proved to be detrimental for Tetsuo as he suffered hallucinatory nightmares of his powers (thanks to the growth-regressed espers) and he formed to a mutated creature. Just like Plato in the end when he got accidentally shot by the police,Tetsuo disappeared or “died” from the existence of Neo-Tokyo. It is interesting that their relationship does not have an erotic energy as it was perhaps played down to show how humanity used its power.

Both Jim and Kaneda have almost similar character growth process,while Jim’s sensitive personality formed the new image of the masculine image during the 50’s by his ambiguous personality and a softer approach. Kanada is perhaps your typical brash Shoenen (Boys’ manga) male character-very brash and yet super loyal to his “nakama” which was pretty much the opposite to Dean’s image. However they have to reach a point of maturity when they navigate what the world is. For Jim,it is the realization that he must take up his role as ‘a man’ and learn how to take full responsibility to his actions. Chris Woods cite the ending of Rebel with this quote of the growth of Jim-“Jim’s covering Plato’s corpse with his jacket is a last display of paternal love for his fallen friend, and in a symbolic display of adult initiation, Jim’s father wraps his own jacket around his son’s shoulders. “Whatever comes we’ll face it together,” he assures Jim. “I’ll try to be as strong as you want me to be.” Jim’s father is now willing to help guide Jim into the symbolic world, although the boy seems to have made it there already.”  It showed about Jim’s maturity to take in responsibility in the world unlike Plato who wanted to retreat to his childhood. On the other-hand Kaneda have his growth as a character as he questioned on the power of that so-called “Akira” and the power of humanity when it encounters science. There is one scene when he recalled Kei saying the same line as one of the espers on humanity and how they used that power. He questioned what is that power on how it was used. We can see it in the end when Kei rescued Kaneba and he witnessed the shirking of his world and of course the inevitable disappearance of Tetsuro. As one of his motorcycle gang memebers asked “Where is Tetsuro” and just like Jim in Rebel,he gave a response to him “He disappeared.” and there was a happier ending as Neo-Tokyo have a brighter outlook unlike the somber ending of Rebel Without A Cause. In the end Kaneda and his companions can ride to the world safely thanks to Tetsuro and the espers’ sacrifice to save humanity.

In conclusion,it seems why there is a connection of Rebel Without a Cause and Akira despite being separate in genres and countries. I think Otomo wanted to use Ray’s teen angst to highlight the theme of Akira, externalism of humanity and its power. Whenever it was that familiar homage to that red windbreaker that James Dean wore during his rebellion with Kaneda’s motorcycle suit. Or the dymanics between Tetsuro and Kaneda that could be viewed as the father-son relationship without the homosexual edge. Even the way Kaneda developed as a character could echoed Jim’s growth to maturity. So I will end this comparison with the quote from one of the esepers Kiyoko that could summarise the aspect of Akira and rebel without a cause “The future is not a straight line. It is filled with many crossroads. There must be a future that we can choose for ourselves. ” Basically it just simply boiled down to personal choice and the journey the characters have to take. Is it why we enjoyed watching films,because we could relate to the main characters emotionally and mentally.

Stylish films-Sabrina (1954)

Well I decide to talk about “Stylish Films” not only because of its context of the story but also some stylish frocks that deserved to be in a fashionista’s movie list.

How about some elegance of Audrey Hepburn to get started on “Stylish films” compartment. You know Audrey would top up in any best-dressed list because of her sheer elegance and cementing the “gamine” look that is copied by so many people today. You may remember her in her more famous reincarnation in Breakfast At Tiffany

Perhaps we should give some love to Sabrina,as Bogey utter that famous line in Casablanca-“It’s a start of a beautiful friendship” in the fashion industry. Story goes of two brothers (both played by Humphrey Bogart and William Holdman) fall into the charms of Sabrina (played by Audrey Hepburn) who went through a Cinderella like transformation. I would not giving out some spoilers as it will ruin the film. However the fashion is dashing and it is well deserved an Oscar of Best Costume Design to Edith Head.

Those who never know Edith Head

This lady is responsible for designing perhaps the most glorious costumes in film history to the point she was an auter. Most notably collaborated with Hitchcock films and a few Audrey Hepburn classics that we loved today. Well she designed the pre-Paris outfits like this adorable polka-dot dress

It’s so Edith Head as there is some elegance and timelessness in her designs. I heard from an interview that she does not want to make Audrey too glamorous for the prologue. It is like a wallflower in an adorable way.

Now to post-Paris outfits that make everyone gush like crazy. Now here is how the beautiful friendship of fashion happens. One day Audrey called rising designer-Hubert Givenchy and he thought that Hepburn who made that call was Katherine Hepburn. By surprise it was the pettie waif-like Audrey. He designed so many of her famous outfits and it was perhaps the greatest collaberation ever.

First the train outfit

It was pretty chic especially the suit dress. It suits Sabrina’s first transformation as a glamourous woman. This is rumored to be one of the outfits that Givenchy designed here. I love her little hairband too.

The Welcome Party outfit (apparently was designed by Givenchy himself)

Gah that detail! Isn’t it gorgeous..I just love the bodice here and it was quite a nice contrast  to the 50’s prom-like dresses of David’s fiance-Elizabeth. Here is the Cinderella-like moment for Sabrina and of course David was in awe with her gorgeous gorgeous dress. Who would resist this beauty.

Sailing outfit

This is the old-school of doing shorts-shorts,This is a nice example of how you do preppy. I think Sabrina would wear it with ballet flats (As her actress) or maybe some elegant boat shoes would work.

The LBD that made her famous (Not really)

Apparently my sister that the collar that appeared in this dress was appropriately called “Sabrina collar” well after the character itself. It fits Hepburn really well because it showcased her wonderful arms and her lovely neck. Now we see some heels (It’s Kitten heel) which top off that elegant look.

Her hat is pretty cute and it adds pizzazz to otherwise a boring LBD.


This was very interesting as it reminds me of another Hepburn film-Funny Face where she wore a leotard like this. However as usual she makes it so elegant! The back is slipped to a V without being vulgar.

Thank you Edith Head for designing this outfit,she looks almost effortless here.


I am sorry for the small screencap,but it’s the best I get. Audrey liked to wear lots of trench-coats in her later movies and rest fo her life. It’s classic.

Well the guys are not forgotten to. Bogey looks stylish with his hoogage,in contrast his brother (Holden) looks dashing here. I love bogey’s sailing outfit because he looks smashing here 😉

I am slightly biased because I usaully see him with the fedora and trenchcoats. It’s refreshing to see his rather preppy outfit but still hold his coolness in his details.

Perhaps what is the legacy for Sabrina in the fashion world which makes it a fashionista’s list of films to watch. Well it elevates Audrey Hepburn to a fashion icon and many more to come. It brings the name Givenchy to the fashion world and also bring up-coming designers like McQueen and Gallieno. It have a legacy of the perfect match of Audrey’s waif-like beauty with Givenchy.

Now some pictures to see Sabrina in its modern times.

Pulip released their collection on Sabrina in March 2010 as a celebration for the film’s release

You see them in your everyday life.

Even Barbie gone Hepburn with that timeless Givenchy Dress

It was indeed a fairytale come true. What more can I say,with its gorgeous dresses that stood the test of time. It’s a great 50’s inspired film.

To buy that DVD click here

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