From Barbiecore to Oppenheimercore, the tragic mid-Noughties styling of Saltburn to the unbridled glamour of Priscilla, 2023 was jam-packed with films that made an indelible mark on the fashion landscape. Below, we look back on the 10 best on-screen sartorial moments from the past 12 months.
The terrifying preppiness of M3gan
What makes the titular android in Gerard Johnstone’s deranged campy horror so utterly chilling? Yes, her eerily human appearance, her killer dance moves, and penchant for hacking her enemies to pieces, but also her hyper-feminine, Blair Waldorf-esque uniform of a silk babydoll dress paired with a long-sleeved, striped top, white tights, black Mary-Janes, a chocolate-coloured jacket and a giant pussy bow, which succeeds in making her look even more unhinged. The ensemble is destined to become a Halloween costume for the ages.
Every single thing Margot Robbie wears in Barbie
That gingham frock, the sequined party look, the black and white swimsuit, the rollerblading look, the cowgirl outfit, the candy floss-pink boiler suit, the sharp-collared blue minidress that nods to Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – literally everything worn by the star of Greta Gerwig’s box-office-record-breaking romp is spectacular. Credit must go to the film’s costume designer, Jacqueline Durran, who mined the Barbie archives for inspiration, as well as to Robbie herself and her stylist, Andrew Mukamal, who rolled out a jaw-dropping array of Barbie-inspired press tour looks – all of which conspired to turn this blockbuster’s release into a verified fashion phenomenon which saw scores of millennial pink-clad audience members flood into cinemas worldwide.
Cillian Murphy’s end-times suiting in Oppenheimer
As for those truly committed to the Barbenheimer experience? It called for a lightning-fast costume change: off come the shocking pink flared trousers and on goes the dark suit, accessorised with a wide-brimmed fedora, a pipe and a generous dash of existential dread. Since its release, the hero of Christopher Nolan’s epic nerve-jangler about the creation of the atomic bomb against the backdrop of World War II has stunned everyone by becoming a trendsetter – though that shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. After all, his classic tailoring has shades of Armani and Saint Laurent, and there’s no one whose sombre style chimes more with the melancholy, fatalistic mood of the moment than his. Expect to see the theoretical physicist’s influence on the runway in seasons to come.
The nonchalance of Greta Lee in Past Lives
Easily one of the coolest characters to grace the big screen in 2023, Nora, the thoughtful and fiercely intelligent heroine of Celine Song’s ravishing romance never looked like she was trying, but in spite of that – or perhaps because of it – was always the chicest person in the room. As the playwright dashes around New York in her louche shirting, slouchy trousers and exquisitely understated jewellery, her hair cut into a sharp bob, she captures our hearts, just as she does that of her childhood sweetheart, Hae Sung (Teo Yoo).
The moving fashion evolution in Priscilla
Many of the looks costume designer Stacey Battat crafted for Sofia Coppola’s dreamy-eyed biopic are meticulously recreated from real life – from the scarf and full-skirted dress Priscilla Presley (Cailee Spaeny) wore to bid Elvis farewell after he completed his military service in Germany, to her showstopping wedding dress, and the hot pink look she wore to bring Lisa Marie home from the hospital. However, what’s most remarkable about the fashion in this touching drama is how it conveys its subject’s growth: at first, she’s just a little girl in baby pink knits who is swept off her feet by a fairytale prince; and then later, someone who is made to grow up fast and adopt a bouffant, dark eye make-up and a wardrobe of slinky cocktail dresses on the request of her controlling partner. When she finally finds her own voice at the end of the film, it’s a thrill to see her let down her hair, don a simple white ’70s blouse, and drive off towards an independent future.
The celebration of Native American design in Killers of the Flower Moon
Now an Oscar frontrunner, costume designer Jacqueline West has compiled some of the most stunning looks of the year in Martin Scorsese’s searing western: the supremely elegant dresses, blankets and ornamental jewellery worn by the oil-rich Osage women at the centre of this explosive story. With the support of her lead Osage costume consultant, Julie O’Keefe, she enlisted a team of Osage artists including Sean Standing Bear, Kugee Supernaw, Moira RedCorn, Jessica Harjo and Jennifer Tiger to create unique pieces, including the traditional military coat and feathered top hat Lily Gladstone’s Mollie wears to her wedding to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Ernest. Intricately detailed and wonderfully extravagant, each and every item on view in this film comes together to form a love letter to this extraordinary community who have, for far too long, been relegated to the margins of history.
Jacob Elordi’s eyebrow piercing in Saltburn
Emerald Fennell’s raucous country house thriller is awash with incredible looks circa 2006 and 2007, as put together by Sophie Canale – the Christopher Kane and Chanel seen on Carey Mulligan’s eccentric Pamela; the vintage Ossie Clark on Elspeth (a scene-stealing Rosamund Pike); Alison Oliver’s Venetia in Agent Provocateur – but we just couldn’t take our eyes off Felix, the foppish aristocrat who looks as good in black tie as he does in his crumpled shirts, rugby tops and Ralph Lauren jumpers (Prince Harry’s style from the period was a major influence).
The one detail which grounds us firmly in the era of indie sleaze, though, is his glinting eyebrow piercing, something he’s sadly forced to remove by his mother when he comes home to their grand estate. Stunningly, it’s an accessory that almost didn’t make it in – the director had to fight the producers for it. “I knew in my soul, having been a young woman in 2007 myself, that an eyebrow piercing would be the thing that would make you entirely lose your mind,” Fennell recently told Vogue. “They said, ‘We don’t understand why you would mar the most beautiful man in the world’s face with an eyebrow piercing’”, to which she replied, “If you have never been round the back of a nightclub with a boy with an eyebrow piercing and then cried into your kebab later, you have no skin in this game.” Amen.
Emma Stone’s fantastical holiday wardrobe in Poor Things
In Yorgos Lanthimos’s wildly trippy coming-of-age tale, the costumes are as mad as the film itself: Victorian bustle cages that resemble Moncler puffer jackets and latex macs which, according to costume designer Holly Waddington, are designed to bring to mind “a period condom”, as worn by a woman whose brain has been replaced with that of an infant. In the earlier stages of her development, as she is cared for by her guardian (Willem Dafoe), their housemaid dresses her in “nappy-ish” bloomers and ruffled nightgowns, but following a sexual awakening courtesy of Mark Ruffalo’s caddish Duncan Wedderburn, she sets off on a wacky Grand Tour and begins dressing herself for the first time. Think cropped, puff-sleeved silk jackets, Matrix-style sunglasses and ’60s Courrèges-inspired boots for a jaunt through Lisbon, for instance, or an outlandish ball gown for a brief stop in Alexandria. It’s haphazard, nonsensical and unapologetically exuberant.
Timothée Chalamet’s velvet coat in Wonka
When it comes to Paul King’s recently released Christmas charmer, viewers seem to be falling into one of two camps: those who were thoroughly charmed and shed a few tears, or those who are completely dead inside (me). Still, the one thing we can all agree on is that the costumes are pure magic, especially the plush, delicately embroidered velvet jacket the chocolate maker dons over his riotously printed waistcoats and neckerchiefs. Bonus points, too, for the top hat, which looks as if it’s been carved out of chocolate.
Taraji P Henson’s showgirl antics in The Color Purple
There’s no shortage of eye-popping looks in Blitz Bazawule’s joyous musical, but it’s the Oscar nominated actor’s take on the free-spirited siren Shug Avery that steals the show. As soon as she shimmies into view in her red sequined frock, matching elbow-length gloves and feathered headdress dripping with strings of pearls, you’re captivated.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.
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- Andrew Mukamal
- Cailey Spaeny
- Celine Song
- Christopher Nolan
- Cillian Murphy
- Elvis Presley
- Emerald Fennell
- Emma Stone
- Gerard Johnstone
- Greta Gerwig
- Greta Lee
- Holly Waddington
- Jacob Elordi
- Jacqueline Durran
- Jacqueline West
- Jennifer Tiger
- Jessica Harjo
- Julie O’Keefe
- killers of the flower moon
- Kugee Supernaw
- leonardo dicaprio
- lily gladstone
- Margot Robbie
- Mark Ruffalo
- martin scorsese
- Moira RedCorn
- Past Lives
- Paul King
- Poor Things
- Sean Standing Bear
- Sofia Coppola
- Sophie Canale
- Stacey Battat
- Taraji P Henson
- Teo Yoo
- The Color Purple
- Timothée Chalamet
- Willem Dafoe