Art Film As Fashion Trend

In 1962 Alain Resnais’ film Last Year at Marienbad aka L’année dernière à Marienbad (1961) debuted in America and made quite a splash with film critics as well as fashionistas. As the following fashion article from ’62 makes clear, women were obviously inspired by the lovely Delphine Seyrig and attempted to mimic her look including fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt and American actress Elizabeth Ashley. Today actresses in popular films seem to dictate many fashion trends but I found this fashion piece about Last Year at Marienbad really surprising and a fun read so I thought I’d share it here. Delphine Seyrig’s one of my favorite actresses and I love the idea of her as a smart trendsetting ’60s style icon in the same league as Jean Seberg and Audrey Hepburn. Make way ladies! Here comes Delphine Seyrig…
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Of course Last Year at Marienbad would go on to inspire perfume ads in the ’80s and effect fashion trends in many ways that director Alain Resnais probably never anticipated. I think this interesting article from ’62 illustrates how quickly the film impacted the fashion world and influenced trends that are still popular today.

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12 thoughts on “Art Film As Fashion Trend

  1. Greg F. says:

    I had no idea that hairstyle was called the “Marienbad” and even if I did I still wouldn’t have known it came from the movie. I was just watching some of How to Steal a Million the other day. I thought Audrey Hepburn was the one that started that style. Go figure.

  2. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    I had no idea that “Marienbad style” was a term used so openly early on. I knew the movie had made a big impact on the fashion world but it’s really amazing how an art film shown in limited US theaters in the ’60s was so quickly absorbed into popular culture. I haven’t seen How to Steal a Million in years and my only memories of the movie are of Peter O’Toole but I should obviously give it a look again soon.

    On a side note, I love the “BEFORE” and “AFTER” pics of model Nana Elwood! She looks like she belongs in an Italian horror film.

  3. Peter Nellhaus says:

    I love the description of Marienbad in that article as “somewhat confusing”.

    My first memory of film and fashion was with a little film Jack Warner dumped called Bonnie and Clyde, back when I was a teenage cinephile.

  4. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    Susannah – I hope you like the film when you get the chance to see it! I love Resnais’ films but he seems to be a required taste.

    Peter – I wrote a piece about Theadora Van Runkle who designed the costumes/fashion for Bonnie and Clyde that you might find interesting. You can find it here. I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s so my first memory of fashion trends started by films was the “disco” look and the “50s teen” look thanks to the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and Grease. I guess we can blame John Travolta for that.

    Michael – It’s from an old issue of Life I have (June 1962) with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. You can find it for sale on ebay. Just do a search for “Life Magazine June 1962 Monroe” and it should pop up.

    I have a batch of old magazines (Life, Better Homes & Gardens, etc.) that I’ve been looking through and scanning for home decorating ideas and I was surprised when I came across this. Glad you enjoyed it! Just an FYI – the last image of Delphine Seyrig was added by me and not part of the article. I also did some creative editing to get the piece to fit in my blog.

  5. Tanner says:

    I love film-affected fashions. Kimberly, do you by any chance have the issue of the New York Times Magazine that had a spread on fashions inspired by Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise film? It wasn’t from the Sixties; I believe it was late Nineties. I wish I’d saved that article…

  6. sergio olivari says:

    Speaking of Losey, that Boom! of his should have left another indelible fashion mark, that of having original soundtracks installed in your very own house; btw Kimberly, congratulations on your fantastic liner notes on the Harkit edition

  7. Kimberly Lindbergs says:

    Tanner – Glad you liked it Tanner! I’ve never seen that NYT Mag issue but I’d love to. If you ever find your copy or buy a new one I hope you’ll share images from it at your own site.

    Suszy – Cool it is!

    Sergio – Boom! did inspire a lot of fashion designers but the movie did not impress many film critics. But I’m really glad you enjoyed the soundtrack. Thanks so much for the kind words about my liner notes for it!

  8. Marc says:

    I love Seyrig and she was very versatile with many different looks. From Jeanne Dielman to Daughters of Darkness. For fun sometimes I like to imagine India Song is a direct sequel to Marienbad.

  9. Matt Patton says:

    Not surprised this film had some impact on fashion–all of Seyrig’s costumes were designed by Chanel. And she looked lovely. My problem with the film is that it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I’ve read interviews with Alain Renaisis about the film, and he was attempting to recreate the way your mind skips between past and present and fantasy on film. Interesting idea, but it made for something of a slog when watching it. Still, I like a lot of his films–he’s one of the few directors from his era that is not only still alive, but still fresh and imaginative.

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