The Great Gatsby (2013)
To create F. Scott Fitzgerald’s privileged Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), Oscar-winning designer Martin looked to real 1920s fashion, opting for authenticity over sequin-soaked nostalgia. ”We needed to make the costumes feel familiar but also surprising,” Martin has said. ”Not everything was a flapper dress with fringe beading.”
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
THEADORA VAN RUNKLE
Best Picture nominee Bonnie and Clyde may have been set in the ’30s, but ’60s women went crazy for the beret and body-skimming midi skirt that designer Van Runkle created for Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway). ”Fashion trends are never made by bad movies,” says curator Landis.
Lady in the Dark (1944)
The mink extravaganza that fashion magazine editor Liza Elliott (Ginger Rogers) dons in a dream sequence is among the most expensive costumes ever made. Designer Head spent $35,000 on it. WWII ended that opulence. Studios were soon forced to ration fabrics because of wartime restrictions, Landis says.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Hooded capes weren’t exactly a mainstay of 1950s Los Angeles, in which the film is set, so to conceive this cloak for call girl Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), designer Myers drew from the lighting of noir film, which celebrates the framed face. Noir, Myers says, ”created fashion that was then copied” in the real world.
The Birds (1963)
Terrorized heroine Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) wears only one outfit for most of this avian Hitchcock thriller. The famed director challenged designer Head to find a color that audiences wouldn’t get sick of and a style that would allow Hedren to run. Head settled on a muted green and a classic silhouette.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)
RUTH E. CARTER
This disco-era jumpsuit worn by White House butler’s wife Gloria Gaines (Oprah Winfrey) in the decade-hopping drama elicited giggles, but it’s a dead ringer for a look designer Carter found in a ’70s issue of Ebony. ”That was the time of ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud’ and all that great stuff,” Carter says.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Designer Vance battled to get hooker Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) into this dress. Disney wanted black. Director Garry Marshall wanted a ball gown. But Vance, inspired by the Sargent painting Madame X, insisted on elegance, not ’80s excess: ”I was trying to give her something in the time, but timeless.”
Basic Instinct (1992)
”I wanted to create a look that would be everlasting in your psyche,”” says designer Mirojnick of this minuscule white shift dress worn by the icy Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone). The actress ”wanted to be able to use her arms and legs as easily as a man sitting in a chair.”
Legally Blonde 2 (2003)
SOPHIE DE RAKOFF
Fashionista Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) had only one sartorial inspiration for her trip to Washington. ”It was going to be Jackie O,” says designer de Rakoff, who used vintage pink bouclé for this homage to the First Lady. Witherspoon initially nixed the pillbox hat, but caved when she saw it on camera, de Rakoff says.
The Hunger Games (2012)
For the film adaptation of the best-selling novel, reluctant warrior Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) needed a badass hunting jacket, but in the book, she wears her dad’s. ”It looked horrible,” says designer Makovsky, who ditched it for a fitted design that retained the look of Depression-era and midcentury workwear.