8 1/2: Most Fashionable Italian Films

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Cinema classic 8 ½ is an exceptionally stylish, highly influential and avant-garde film created by the visionary duo, director Federico Fellini and costume designer Piero Gherardi. This film earned Gherardi his second Academy Award (in Black & White) for Best Costume design.He won the first Oscar for costume design for La Dolce Vita. Marcello Mastroianni stars as Guido Anselmi, a film director suffering from “director’s block”.

The title 8 ½ refers to the eight films and one short Fellini had created up to this point. Much like it’s predecessor, 8 ½ heavily relies on style, costume and colour to define the characters personalities. However, unlike Fellini’s other massively stylish film, La Dolce Vita—where the mens and womens dress is similar in embellishment and sophistication—8 ½ strongly features the female, downplaying the mens fashion and keeping their costumes very simple. Fellini chose to represent his ideals of male and female appearance through his films, considering Mastrianni to embody the ‘ideal male’: cool, reserved and sophisticated. It was a relationship similar to that of Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart.

While Fellini’s men often take on an appearance that seems to mimic Mastrianni’s, it’s the female characters who are most compelling and appealing to modern audiences. With their curves, buxomness and ‘real-women’ silhouettes, it’s easy to see why film lovers appreciate Fellini’s 8 ½ for immortalizing a classical version of female form.

In the first 10 minutes of the film we’re introduced to a multitude of women; a parade of extravagant hats, pearls and fur. Juxtaposed to the men who all don suits, ties and oxford shoes, the women take center stage in visual interest. Every female costume gives the viewer a quick and powerful look into the character’s stature in life and personality. Larger than life sunglasses and fur stoles for the woman of riches, odd headbands and hats to portray quirkiness and plain headbands and pleated skirts to represent youth and innocence. Because Fellini and Gherardi wanted to highlight female beauty in all it’s shapes, sizes and ages, the depiction of the female form varies from athletic builds to ‘plus-sized’ bosomy wild women, from older woman to teenage girls. Fellini also relies heavily on costuming to express the psychological and emotional state of his main characters. From curvaceous prostitute La Saraghina’s wild and tattered dress and unkempt beehive ‘do to give off the impression that she’s out there and untameable, to Guido’s wife, Lusia’s minimalist mod outfits to show her demure and put together nature; Fellini’s female personalities live through the clothing, outshining the male counterparts.

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8 1/2: Most Fashionable Italian Films

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