Careers in Fashion and Film


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by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

September 25, 2006


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Famed director of the Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, Sophia Coppola has returned to the director's chair with her recent work, Marie Antoinette, a film that explores the life (and clothing design choices) of the young queen and wife of King Louis XVI.

Fashion designers and style setters in France have long served as a touchstone for the fashion industry. While in recent years many great careers in fashion design have been made far from the Eiffel Tower, (Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford, for example) there's little doubt among historians of clothing design that French fashion clearly has had an important influence on style and taste.

The renewed interest in French history and fashion spurred by Coppola's film might just inspire a new generation of designers to take a closer look at fashion icons from an earlier period to gauge how their sensibilities could be interpreted in a modern context.

Fashion School and Clothing Design History
Many fashion schools will offer courses on the history of fashion. Some may require an overview course of fashion history for all fashion school students. Others may have a special program on period clothing design to help aspiring costume designers prepare for careers in fashion working on film's like Marie Antoinette, designing clothes that reflect an era perfectly, or that reinterpret historic styles with a modern or eccentric twist, such as the attire in Reese Witherspoon's period film, Vanity Fair.

Learning about Fashion From Film
Coppola is certainly not the first director to care about fashion in film. The French New Wave film era depicted one of the most memorable images of fashionable characters in recent memory. Francois Truffaut's Breathless and Godard's Masculine Feminine, for example, created a kind of cool that only the French could pull off.

Of course the advent of American cool, tough and irreverent, created by young actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean, showed that fashion is not just about fancy fabric and expensive trimmings. Sometimes it's an attitude, and that's often much more exciting to capture in a clothing design.

In short, careers in fashion can find inspiration in many places, but film has long been a medium where fashion has played an important role and that's unlikely to change in the years ahead.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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