Black Swan Rodarte Mulleavy

From Runway to the Big Screen: Fashion Designers Who Costume Designed for Cinema


| LAST UPDATE 11/21/2023

By Evelyn Martinez

From catwalks to movie sets, some fashion designers live and breathe fashion - so much so that they took the plunge into cinema costume design. Here are the masterminds behind some of our favorite looks.

Elvis (Prada)

Prada has been a trusted partner of director Baz Luhrmann, outfitting the casts of his films with timeless costumes. And who better to dress the King than the brand that did it all those years ago?

Elvis Prada Suit BrandElvis Prada Suit Brand
Album / Alamy Stock Photo

Taking on Luhrmann's 2022 biopic was no easy task; Elvis was a figure who epitomized camp, rock, and exorbitance, while Prada is notoriously sleek. However, the brand's ability to blend historical accuracy with modern values made it an ideal choice for capturing the essence of Presley's iconic persona.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Givenchy)

Audrey Hepburn's captivating portrayal of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of film's most unforgettable silhouettes, and Holly will forever be a symbol of cinematic fashion. While the film itself is a classic, its appeal is undoubtedly helped by the chic wardrobe created by Hubert de Givenchy.

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AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

Givenchy, a close friend of Audrey, created the iconic elegant gown in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and added glamour to Coco Chanel's concept of the little black dress. The sleeveless, black satin, and minimalist design embodied timeless elegance and remains an outfit forever wearable.

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And God Created Woman (Balmain)

Brigitte Bardot's wardrobe in the 1956 film Et Dieu… Créa la Femme (And God Created Woman) perfectly embodies strong and proud femininity, qualities Pierre Balmain of Balmain emphasized. As the rebellious Juliete, Bridgitte captured audiences with her free spirit, charm and, of course, daring fashion choices. 

And God Created Woman (1956) Iéna Productions via IMDb

Brigitte's costumes, designed by Balmain himself, showcased a blend of innocence and lust, featuring hourglass dresses that accentuated her curves. These cinched-waist skirts were scandalously revealing of her slender figure, but oversized shirts relaxed any idea of censorship. Sexy but not offensively so.

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Marie Antoinette (Manolo Blahnik)

The iconic shoe designs of Manolo Blahnik have transcended the catwalk, finding their way onto the silver screen and adding a touch of Parisian chic to the world of cinema. Blahnik's creations are renowned for their intricate details, expensive decorations, and period-accuracy.

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Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo

Manolo's shoes for Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette captured the luxury and extravagance of the 1780s, featuring complex details such as ribbons, rosettes, embroidery, and jewels. Lots of jewels. The French queen's shoes are girly but still reflectively glamorous of her contentious role in history.

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The Dark Knight (Armani)

Who other than Giorgio Armani could partner with Christopher Nolan to provide tailoring for the highly acclaimed superhero film The Dark Knight Rises. This collaboration marked the second time Armani lent his expertise to the Batman franchise, having previously designed costumes for 2008's The Dark Knight.

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Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Working closely with the series' costume designer Lindy Hemming, Armani crafted two impeccably tailored suits for Bruce Wayne. The first was a charcoal grey pinstripe suit, while the second featured a classic grey plaid pattern. There's a reason Bruce Wayne is epitome of sartorial class and elegance.

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No Time to Die (Tom Ford)

For the fourth consecutive time, Tom Ford was given the mantle of dressing the British secret agent, James Bond, providing a wardrobe that embodies our favorite spy’s refined elegance and sexy style. Basically, Tom Ford kept Bond classy for Casino RoyaleSpectreSkyfall, and No Time to Die

Daniel Craig Bond OutfitDaniel Craig Bond Outfit
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

In close collaboration with James Bond costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, Tom Ford crafted a collection of tailored clothing and casual wear, with evening wear, suits, shirts, silk accessories, and denim. It’s hard to imagine Daniel Craig wearing anything other than a custom-fit Tom Ford suit.

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Goldfinger (Anthony Sinclair)

While Daniel Craig's Bond is undoubtedly a fashion icon, Sean Connery originated the role, and his fashion choices remain as iconic today as they were when Goldfinger first hit theaters. With all his many memorable looks, Anthony Sinclair will go down in fashion history as the OG.

Goldfinger Sean Connery SuitGoldfinger Sean Connery Suit
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Connery's Goldfinger suit, in particular, is imprinted in our minds. The suit epitomizes the refined elegance and masculinity that have become synonymous with James Bond's persona. Bond has always been the picture of impeccable British tailoring, and we have Anthony Sinclair to thank for that.

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Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (Carolina Herrera)

Fashion designer Carolina Herrera dedicated six months and the hands of four sewists to meticulously craft a custom-made lace gown for Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan in Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1. Can a wedding with a vampire ever be a dull affair?

Caroline Herrera Twilight DressCaroline Herrera Twilight Dress
Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011) Summit Entertainment via IMDb

Carolina Herrera revealed her inspiration behind the dress to E!, "It was a combination of things—I got inspiration from the book and descriptions from Stephenie Meyer. You had to really take in consideration the whole story—which was this innocent girl with the first true love of her life. It had to be magical."

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Romeo + Juliet (Prada)

Elvis wasn't Baz Luhrmann and Prada's first collaboration. The unique costuming in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare's classic Romeo + Juliet marked the beginning of a long-term and ongoing creative partnership between Luhrmann and the iconic fashion house Prada.

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AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

Prada's contributions to Romeo + Juliet included two unforgettable ensembles that have are still very recognizable: Claire Danes' ethereal white dress with angelic wings, worn during the Capulet costume party, and Leonardo DiCaprio's impeccably tailored navy blue wedding suit.

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Black Swan (Rodarte)

Black Swan’s tutus generated buzz even before its release, fueled by the announcement that Kate and Laura Mulleavy, the designers behind the fashion label Rodarte, had crafted some of the ballet costumes. Their creations, a perfect blend of technically accuracy and beauty, quickly captivated audiences everywhere.

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Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo

Despite their contributions, the sisters were not eligible for an Oscar nomination due to their non-membership in the Costume Designers Guild. Amy Westcott, the film's head designer, later said that the extent of Rodarte's involvement had been overstated by the brand's public relations team and the media. Scandalous.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (Armani)

The Wolf of Wall Street earned some attention for the fifth collaboration between Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio, but also Armani’s creative design choices. The film's costumes reflect the characters' personalities and capture the extravagant and sometimes excessive culture of Wall Street during the 1980s and 1990s.

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Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

DiCaprio's portrayal of Jordan Belfort, a charismatic yet immoral stockbroker, is complemented by his expensive wardrobe. Striped jackets, a hallmark of Wall Street style, are ever present, decorated with intricate patterns that transition from cheap geometric prints to Armani suits as the characters' wealth increases.

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Judge Dredd (Versace)

Set in a gritty dystopian city, the futuristic crime film Judge Dredd demanded costumes that matched its intense and visually striking setting. The design, defined by a touch of camp with scifi, was a the brain child of creative vision by fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Judge Dredd Gianni VersaceJudge Dredd Gianni Versace
AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

Versace, known for his bold and lavish designs and personally chosen by lead Sylvester Stallone for the task, proved an ideal choice for bringing Dredd's campy persona to life. He meticulously crafted the costume, staying true to the original comic book while adding his signature touch of glitz and glam. 

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A Bigger Splash (Dior)

Tilda Swinton's wardrobe in A Bigger Splash is a masterclass in old rock star elegance, courtesy of the legendary fashion house Dior. From stylish sunglasses that conceal her emotions to her backless evening gowns that scream effortlessness, Marianne's Dior tailored looks were inevitably iconic.

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Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo

Her striking clothing collection is down to the enduring stylishness of Dior, featuring outfits either custom-made by Christian Dior or handpicked from the house's ready-to-wear and couture designs. Each piece Tilda wore has a timeless elegance that Dior has become known for.

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The Fifth Element (Jean Paul Gaultier)

Jean Paul Gaultier's dive into cinema with Luc Besson's The Fifth Element cemented his status as a pop culture icon. His theatrical flair, usually saved for the runways, easily translated to the space backdrop of the film. Each costume piece is an integral component of the film's abstract storytelling.

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Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

From Bruce Willis's iconic orange tank top to Chris Tucker's flamboyant leopard-print spacesuit and Milla Jovovich's unforgettable white bandage dress, Gaultier's costumes have defined The Fifth Element's cult classic status. Halloween costumes since the 90s have never been the same.

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Barbarella (Paco Rabanne)

Barbarella is iconic despite its initial lukewarm reception and misuse of its star, the iconic Jane Fonda. A significant contributor to Barbarella's cult status is its campy costumes, designed by fashion pioneer Paco Rabanne, from bodysuits to chainmail minidresses and metallic boots.

Barbarella Rabanne Jane FondaBarbarella Rabanne Jane Fonda
Allstar Picture Library Limited. / Alamy Stock Photo

Rabanne's Barbarella costumes have risen above the film itself, and its looks have become symbols of fashion innovation and femininity. Rabanne's futuristic designs, inspired by the technological advancements and the then-new feminist movement, perfectly captured the spirit of the swinging 60s. 

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Last Year at Marienbad (Chanel)

After a successful stint in Hollywood during the 1930s, where she designed costumes for iconic stars like Jean Harlow, fashion legend Coco Chanel returned to the costume design world in 1961 with Alain Resnais's confusing black and white love story Last Year in Marienbad. 

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Last Year at Marienbad (1961) Cineriz via IMDb

Chanel's designs for the film perfectly capture their own style; simple, lowkey, and effortlessly chic. In classic Chanel looks, there is the most simple yet gorgeous little black dress. Chanel's successor, Karl Lagerfeld, even credited the film and its opulent setting as the inspiration for a collection in 2011.

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I Am Love (Raf Simons for Jil Sander)

In Luca Guadagnino's 2009 film, I Am Love, Tilda Swinton stars as Emma, a woman grappling with the complexities of desire and sexual repression. Emma's attire reflects her subdued and passive nature. Blending into the background, Emma wears unremarkable clothes in muted tones. 

Album / Alamy Stock Photo

With her always before was an expensive, but tasteless, handbag. However, once she begins her scandalous affair with a young chef, her palette and commitment to styling herself dramatically shifts. We see a shy lady transformed into a bold woman wearing Raf Simons' bold red dress.

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American Gigolo (Armani)

The 80s were filled with many fashion nightmares; however, even in the darkness (or brightness), there were still glimmers of hope visible through movie stars like Richard Gere and his gorgeous outfits in American Gigolo. Even as the image-obsessed male escort, Armani made sure Julian lacked anything but style.

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AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo

Julian's wardrobe, curated from early Giorgio Armani pieces, exudes an effortlessness that complements his false self-assuredness. With relaxed suede suits, short-sleeved shirts, and overcoats tailored to the Gods, Richard Gere made stylishness even sexier than was humanly possible.

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Maîtresse (Karl Lagerfeld)

We may be cheating with this entry, but it can hardly be omitted from the fashion designer to costume designer list. Long before his reign at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld took the bare plunge into movie costuming with his work on the 1976 French sex comedy Maîtresse (Mistress).

Karl Lagerfeld Movie CostumeKarl Lagerfeld Movie Costume
Maitresse (1975) Gaumont via IMDb

Ariane, played by a young Bulle Ogier, switches between her two dramatically contrasting worlds: a kind neighbor and the fierce dominatrix working for her bucks. Lagerfeld’s task was not an easy one. Still, he created and curated two wardrobes that shifted between Ariane’s personalities.

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Stage Fright (Dior)

In February 1947, the fashion world was captivated by the debut of Christian Dior's first collection. However, no one loved him more than Marlene Dietrich. When approached for a role in Alfred Hitchcock's upcoming film, "Stage Fright," Dietrich made a bold demand: If Dior isn't designing, Dietrich isn't acting.

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United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Not only did Stage Fright become one of the most essential films of Hitchcock and Dietrich's careers, but Christian Dior's involvement in the film's costume design projected him to fame and almost universal acclaim as a fashion designer. It also helps it is one of the most quintessential 1950s Hollywood movies.

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Alien: Covenant (Craig Green)

Costume designer Janty Yates was browsing Selfridges when she discovered a Craig Green collection, a lineup of green parkas and parachute bondage pants. These designs were exactly what she and director Ridley Scott had envisioned for the expedition team aboard the colonization ship.

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Album/ Alamy Stock Photo

Craig Green's military aesthetic seamlessly translated to the silver screen, resulting in over 160 complete outfits for the film, including vests, jackets, and bodysuits. The costumes' blend of performance and futuristic elements, characterized by a muted color palette, perfectly complemented the film's visual style.

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A View To Kill (Azzedine Alaïa)

We have spoken much about James Bond on this list so we won’t add anything more. However, we didn’t say that would stop us when it came to one of the Bond girls. In Roger Moore’s final 007 film, A View to Kill, his counterpart, May Day, was dressed like a goddess by Azzedine Alaïa.

James Bond Costume DesignJames Bond Costume Design
A View to Kill (1985) United Artists via IMDb

For her most famous outfit in the film, May wore a hooded, body-hugging maroon dress that is hard to forget. It’s sleek and sexy, and many wondered when it would be available on the racks. For the first time and last time, a character other than James Bond wore an outfit that quite literally stole the show.

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Belle du Jour (Yves Saint Laurent)

Only six years into his new label, Yves Saint Laurent was entrusted by surrealist director Luis Buñuel to design the outfits for his film Belle Du Jour. What began as a partnership for the 1967 film eventually helped form Saint Laurent’s ongoing styling. Think buttoned military coats, leather, and chic tennis attire

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Belle du Jour (1967) Valoria via IMDb

Rather than sticking with the silhouettes and styles popular during that era, Saint Laurent burst on the scene with his own mind. Instead, to make the film more timeless, minimalist styles with concise tailoring were adopted for the character’s clothing. The result? Sophistication that doesn’t feel 60 years old.

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The Hunger Games (Schiaparelli)

Effie Trinket made one of the most memorable entrances 2012, The Hunger Games. And it's not hard to see why. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky, responsible for Effie's eye-catching ensembles, drew inspiration directly from surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and credited her advice for the outfit's conception.

Hunger Games Schiaparelli EffieHunger Games Schiaparelli Effie
The Hunger Games (2012) Lionsgate via IMDb

Schiaparelli's bold designs, often incorporating unexpected elements like animals and hat-shaped shoes, mirrored Effie's taste for the unconventional. Effie's Reaping outfit, an ensemble of a magenta skirted suit, black stilettos, and a matching flower hat atop her pink hair, sets the tone for her character's outlandish style.

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The Great Gatsby (Prada)

We had to end the list with the biggest bang possible for our final Prada and Baz Luhrmann collaboration. Nothing defines roaring 20s party attire like the 2013 The Great Gatsby adaptation. Prada pulled out all the stops for this film, providing 40 period-accurate dresses from their collection.

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PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Flapper-girl galore should be the subcategory of style for Luhrmann’s fantastical retelling of the classic story. Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby’s long-lost love, wore a memorable dress inspired directly by then-current Prada outfits. Prada was as involved in The Great Gatsby as any regular costume designer is, and it certainly shows.

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