8 1/2: Most Fashionable Italian Films

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Stiletto heels, false eyelashes, winged eyeliner, rising hemlines, fur trimmed everything, thick rimmed glasses, hats, collarless dresses, head to toe white, and androgynous cuts; all trends on of the forefront of Italian fashion at the time. This cutting edge fashion sensibility lends an air of sophistication to the entire production. Guido may look debonaire and handsome, and his wide black ties are certainly au courant, but his fashion sensibilities are overshadowed by extravagantly beautiful and fashionable characters played by the stunning actresses, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, and Sandra Milo.

One of the most subtle, yet poignant aspects of the costume design in 8 1/2 is the attention to the rapidly changing fashion trends of the time. The early 60’s were a fast paced time for the fashion industry resulting from religious reform, social change (the civil rights movement), and changing needs. At the time 8 1/2 was filmed, hats were still part of the Catholic Church dress code; making their wear a requirement of church goers ( a reform on this policy wasn’t to happen until the late sixties). However, hats were already losing their cache with the ever changing, less restrictive loose and free hairstyles of time. To combat this millinery companies set out to create pieces of extreme variation and extravagance. It was the sun-favourable cartwheel hat that appealed to the more fashion-forward women of the time, ladies who spent more time doing their hair and were not interested in covering it up. In one of the opening scenes of the film Mastroianni walks about a sunny square, bustling with activity; almost all of the women are donning some form of cartwheel hat—this before the cartwheel was to take off in popularity. The styles range from extravagantly decorated, ribbon covered, to straw; evidence of the films great attention to the changing fashion trends. Fellini and Gherardi’s avant-garde fashion choices in 8 ½ were instrumental in garnering support and momentum for what would go on to become global trends. Another example is the prevalence of the A-Line boxy dress and the mini skirt on all Fellini’s young and hip characters. This trend went on to be revolutionary and internationally popular in 1964, a year after the film’s debut.

-Lauren Schell

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8 1/2: Most Fashionable Italian Films

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