This isn’t a list of the most fashionable films of the 1960s but rather the films that created discussion, inspired ideas, represented trends, and influenced styles in that decade:
Who Are You, Polly Magoo? (1966) is a French satire of the fashion industry – and especially the fashion ‘sheep’ who blindly follow designers like Courreges and Rabanne.
The World of Suzi Wong (1960) is about an artist who moves to Hong Kong and falls in love with a local prostitute. What is important about this film is its setting and costumes – Hong Kong was just becoming an important fashion manufacturing centre in 1960, and the Cheungsam became a hit after this film.
Blowup (1966) This film is about a dissolute London fashion photographer who unwittingly witnesses a murder. Although the focus of this film is about the murder, the film shows what the life of a fashion photographer, like David Bailey, was like in the mid 1960s.
Last Year at Marienbad (1961) is a French art film about a couple who may have met before. The styling of the film was a source of inspiration for the film and fashion industry, and the lead character’s haircut began the penchant for shorter hairstyles.
La Dolce Vita (1960) is a series of stories following a week in the life of a Roman paparazzi journalist. Although filmed in 1959 and not released in the U.S. until spring 1961, the fashions held up and the styling secured Italy as a leader of chic fashion.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), a New York party girl falls in love with a her gigolo neighbour. This film secured Audrey Hepburn as the ‘it’ girl of the early 1960s and Givenchy as the leading French couturier of the early 1960s.
Cleopatra (1963) about history’s most famous Egyptian queen is a plodding epic that was the most scandalous film of its time in terms of problems behind the scenes and cost overuns. However, in anticipation of the film’s release – everything went Egyptian in the summer of ’62 including heavy eyeliner, bangs, draped dresses and Egyptian jewellery.
Tom Jones (1963) is about the randy tales of a charming British lover. The film inspired deep decolletage in the mid 1960s and popularized the ‘peasant’ dress style that gained popularity towards the end ofthe decade.
Bonnie & Clyde (1967) retells the story of the famous 1930s American outlaws. The 1930s costuming created a nostalgia for the past and influenced 1960s fashions, including the beret, midi hem lengths, sweaters, men’s double breasted suits and Deco styling.
Doctor Zhivago (1965) follows a Russian doctor who falls in love with a political activist’s wife during the Bolshevik Revolution. The film was a critical failure but popular with audiences and remained in the theatres for over a year after its release. Fur trimmed coats, boots, embroidery, midi and maxi hems, were all attributed to this film. Most importantly, it began a taste for nostalgic and romantic looks in fashion – pushing aside the space age modernism of the mid 1960s.