A fashion look at Christmas movies

When it comes to Christmas we will directly start to think about fluffy scarves, extra-large over-decorated jumpers and quite disagreeable socks. So, let’s face it, Christmas is that time of the year when the fashion reputation is suspended.

What we may look for, especially after this difficult year, is a little sense of self-concentration where the primping is little but constant work to avoid blues and negativity. Taking care of ourselves passes also through our imagination: the ability to create new scenarios in which it is possible to “redecorate” our dreams and fill in with concrete premises…what a better way to deal will all these suggestions if not by watching a Christmas movie?

Since we like it fashion, here is a list of classy and timeless options to avoid the mushy effect.

The first movies that should be mentioned is “Meet me in St. Louis” edited in 1944. Even if it does not apply to the classical definition of Christmas themed performances, it is necessary to put the attention on the magic vibe expressed by the motion picture and its cast.

A marvelous Judy Garland’s performance with “have yourself a merry little Christmas” is meant to be listened to over and over again through the ages; together with her vibrant character there’s Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Tom Drake, Lucille Bremer and Marjorie Main. Apart from the musical features, the attention is caught by the extravagant costumes; a must for the fashion addicted are the evolution of the wardrobe according to the development of the story and particularly of Judy Garland’s Esther character. The designer Irene Sharaff is not afraid to toss some lady-like gloves on the young girl-next-door-character for the central “The Trolley song” and also, puff sleeves allowing, she adds more definition to the feminine waistline of the Garland even if the character is not completely ditching her tomboy tendencies along the story developing.

Another holiday classic “need to be” is the Frank Capra’s “A Wonderful Life”, 1946. Starring Donna Reed and James Stewart, the picture style says “vintage festive attire”. The most iconic costumes are, no doubts allowed, Mary Hatch’s Christmas dress, Mary’s dress that wins over George and Ruth Dakin’s family meeting outfit. As for the first one, in a duck blue egg color (as possible to see from the remastered color version), the costume designer felt the urge to impress the audience by introducing historically moderated dresses; that’s why the mentioned dress edited in 1946 for a time-story set in 1928 looks very up-to-the-minute. The second one, the dress that wins the man, should be seen as a fundamental step in the story: the two lovers finally together with Mary wearing a full-skirted silk dress in a shady, somber pink. As a reflection of the character purity of heart and goodwill, the dress is elegantly embodied around the neckline and the hem. The last outfit belongs to Harry Bailey’s wife, who’s able to exhibit a glamorous silhouette in a black pencil skirt, checked jacked with capped sleeves and a large decorated corsage. A pre-pin up vibe.

Carrying on the movie marathon, “White Christmas” (1954) represents as well as a good example of stylish holidays. The film is cheerful, frisky comedy where the joy is displayed since the very first moment: colors and bright lights,  perfectly 50s-ish are successfully capturing the atmosphere. The costumes here are more “traditional”: despite a good dose of “well-embedded Santa Suit”, the Judy Hayne’s turquoise lace and pink full-skirted nightgown are divinely winning the attention. Apart from the women outfits, the costume designer Edith Head expresses her gratified enthusiasm for the men dressing in White Christmas, including the Danny’s charcoal gray suit.

To end up with two gems of the golden age of Hollywood, we propose: “Desk Set” and “Bell, Book and Candle”. The first one, “Desk Set ” edited in 1957, is a first (mild) step on the feminist debate starring Katherine Hepburn, an actress remarkable not only for her talent but also for her dashing, foreseeing attire in terms of clothing choices. The costume designer is the Oscar winner Charles Le Miane and the doozy piece that everyone would probably remember is Dina’s purple cocktail dress, a flare cut typical 50sish.

The last movie is “Bell, Book and Candle” directed by Richard Quine in 1958 and starring Kim Novak, James Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs, Hermione Gingold, Elsa Lanchester and Janice Rule. A fantastic comedy in which destiny twists and witty but hilarious stereotypes, the Greenwich Witch casts a love spell.

Another link to Christmas-Halloween movies like Tim burton’s “Nightmare before Christmas” would do. But here the focus is on the chic outcomes of Kim Novak: from classy black trousers and high-necked cardigans, red-Christmas coats and bright gloves to the sleeveless green romantic dress, the pink gown and the bold deep-low line black dress for the evening that makes the costume designer Jean Louis choices extremely actual.


Fanny Trivigno