The Prospector

Fashion and film, an absolute synergy

By Andres Rodriguez

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013

Swan

Special to The Prospector

Fashion designer and editor in chief of the El Paso-based "Queen King Magazine" Adriel Hidalgo watched and was fascinated by the film, "Black Swan" (2010).

Immediately after watching the movie, he designed a dress which would go on to be recognized by Texas Monthly Magazine. The outfit was inspired by the black feathered dress Natalie Portman wore for the film.

Hidalgo, founder of the label Queen of Persia, said his "Black Swan"-inspired dress, a black couture gown with black ostrich feathers, black dyed pony hair and 122 yards of black chiffon and organza, is his most iconic design to date. However, he credits the film "American Beauty" (1999) for inspiring most of his designs, including three of his drees that were published in "Vogue Italia."

"Ever since I saw the part where Mena Suvari was laying in a bed of red roses, I have been using flower structures and patterns in my designs," Hidalgo said.

Robert Gutierrez, senior communication lecturer, said this is an absolute synergy: fashion influences and benefits film, just as film influences and benefits fashion.

"The fashion industry knows that film is a great way to gain exposure," Gutierrez said. "I can say throughout my life there's been ways that actors have dressed that I've obtained. I slim down, I like what they're wearing."

Gutierrez said it is the big-screen that glamorizes fashion and therefore validates it. He used the example of the 2007 film, "Juno," which is popularly heralded as the cause of a rise in teen pregnancy, to represent a film's impact.

According to Jaime Barba UTEP Dinner Theater Costume designer and lecturer, the cyclic influence between fashion and film is now more than ever dictating the way people dress. Growing up in the ‘80s, Barba recalled Madonna's popularity.

"I can't tell you how many girls put bows on their hair or wore one long earring and nothing on the other side, and had tons of those little rubber bracelets," Barba said.

As the 2008 documentary "Starz Inside: Fashion in Film" points out, fashion designers look to successful films to base their collections. Fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier's Spring 2007 collection was heavily inspired by the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films by the popularity of the films, pirate hats, skull-prints and rugged scarfs for everyday wear.

For Barba, fashion in film, like in the film "Sex and the City" (2008), is more of a treat than outrageous.

"Honestly, if you saw someone dressed like Carrie Bradshaw walking down the street, you'd think she was psycho," Barba said. "But I think that was one of the reasons why the series and the movies were so popular. Because our regular Joe Blows got to see these cool fashions used in every day settings."

Gutierrez said the influence is beyond cultural; it is a business. He explained that, just like ESPN benefits monetarily from reporting on sports, so too do film and fashion benefit from each other.

"They go hand in hand. You use film as the medium to gain exposure for the fashion but you need the fashion for the film to gain credibility," Gutierrez said. "It's a money juggernaut."

The credibility, Barba said, consists of fashion helping set the time and mood of a production.

"That's how you get the flavor of the time period. The set designer can make the architecture look like it did in the 1930s but that's how it looks right now if you go downtown," Barba said. "But fashion, what they're wearing, how they do their hair, the accessories they're using, I equate it to the icing on a cake."

Hidalgo believes the importance of the "icing on a cake" in today's society cannot be denied. Not through its ever-present role in print media, television and film, he said.

"Fashion provides us with a sense of identity," Hidalgo said. "Those who are anti-fashionista are part of the fashion world in their own way. They are all making their own fashion statements."

Andres Rodriguez may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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