The fashion industry thrives from the inevitable exposure it receives from television and film. Hollywood’s capacity to create monumental, cultural icons not only develops the popularity and celebrity status of showcasing actors and actresses, but also has the power to influence the masses in terms of fashion and popular culture (1).  Film often creates idealistic scenes and characters to entertain the public, conforming to directors’ artistic intentions rather than that of everyday reality.  The attire for these characters positively impacts the fashion industry by means of inadvertent advertising (1).

Movies like Hollywood’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (for the little black dress), Annie Hall (for men’s as woman’s clothing) and Flash Dance (for legwarmers) are just some of the examples where the cinematic image has created a popular fashion trend or style (1).

When Bond Girl, Ursula Andress emerged from the sea as Honey Rider in the James Bond film in Dr. No (1962) wearing a white cotton hipster bikini and a scabbard holding a sizeable knife, the fashion industry was rocked by the demand for two piece swimsuits (4). Following the original release of the bikini in 1946, people were outraged and disgusted by the sinful, immodesty of the outfit, some countries even going so far as to ban the item all together (2).  But when seen within the context of a successful, classic film such as James Bond, the public changed their attitudes towards the bikini, seeing it as a sexy, trendy form of swimwear; some even claiming the bikini ‘liberated woman and true feminist archetype’ (3).  Andress’ celebrity status also sky rocketed as a result of the director’s choice to include the bikini, most men wanted to be with her, and most women wanted to be her (2).

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No

What is important to understand is that the power of the cinematic image cannot only establish fashion trends but diminish them.  An example of this was Clark Gable, a successful and highly regarded male icon starred in It Happened One Night, a 1934 romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra (1). In the movie Gable wore no sweat shirt, much to the shock of the audience at the time considering undershirts were so popular. After the release of the film undershirt sales diminished by in America by 75% according to reports (1).

  1. Hollywood Influences Fashion, 2014, Fashion Encyclopaedia, advameg. Inc. viewed 20 September 2014, <http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/Modern-World-1930-1945/Hollywood-Influences-Fashion.html&gt;
  2. S 2013, The Birth of the Bikini, Nostalgia Network, viewed 20 September 2014, <http://doyouremember.com/the-birth-of-the-bikini/&gt;
  3. Caplen, R 2010, Shaken & Stirred: The Feminism of James Bond, Xlibris Corporation, viewed 20 September 2014, < http://www.amazon.com/SHAKEN-STIRRED-FEMINISM-JAMES-BOND-ebook/dp/B0047O2EMC&gt;
  4. Andress scene voted ‘most Sexy’, 2003, BBC News, viewed 20 September 2014, < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3250386.stm&gt;
  5. Cork, J, D’Abo, M 2003 . Bond girls are forever: the women of James Bond. Harry N. Abrams. Viewed 20 September 2014, <http://books.google.com.au/books?id=kw8IAQAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y&gt;
Advertisements