Usually, movies are a reflection of the era in which they’re made. They mirror the customs, morals, slang and fashion of their time, from period pieces to contemporary films.
But sometimes – not often – movies get ahead of the culture. The Bal Harbour Shops’ Fashion Project is celebrating the intersection between fashion and film with “Dressing Down the Movies,” a free retrospective of 24 classic films ranging from the silent era to the present day, running Aug. 15-Sept. 30.
The selection ranges from 1929’s Pandora’s Box, in which actress Louise Brooks popularized (and immortalized) women’s bob hairstyle, to 1994’s Ready to Wear, director Robert Altman’s comical takedown of haute couture.
The films will be screened digitally in chronological order of the year in which they were made. Other titles include:
– Top Hat (1935), the beloved musical in which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced to the music of Irving Berlin and became icons of elegant fashion.
– The Women (1939), director George Cukor’s star-studded Technicolor extravaganza featuring costumes inspired by the avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
– Mildred Pierce (1945), director Michael Curtiz’s adaptation of the James M. Cain novel which earned Joan Crawford an Oscar – and immortalized her padded-shoulders wardrobe for women.
– Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which James Dean made every brooding adolescent boy long for a red-leather jacket.
– Funny Face (1957), starring Audrey Hepburn as a reluctant fashion model, Fred Astaire as a photographer and the Oscar-nominated costume design of the formidable Edith Head.
– Last Year at Marienbad (1961), director Alain Resnais’s eternally-intriguing cinematic reverie, with costumes by an uncredited Coco Chanel.
– Blow-Up (1966), director Michelangelo Antonioni’s indelible cocktail of high suspense and style, set against the backdrop of the colorful 1960s swinging London.
– American Gigolo (1980), a drama about a high-class male prostitute in which director Paul Schrader fetishized actor Richard Gere and the clothing of Georgio Armani.
– Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), the comedy that cemented Madonna’s place in American pop culture, along with her then-trademark bomber jackets, black lace and hair bows.
All films will be screened at the Fashion Project space, which has been converted into a 50-seat screening room by architect Tui Pranich. The program was curated by Nat Chediak, co-founder of the Miami International Film Festival and current director of the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
“I fell in love in the movies in the first place because you can find everything is in them: Drama, literature, photography, art, music,” Chediak says. “Until I programmed this retrospective it, I didn’t know I could look at them through the prism of fashion as well, while still focusing on their artistic merits.”
All screenings in the “Dressing Down the Movies” retrospective are free. For a complete schedule of films and showtimes, click here or call 786-245-2200.
Follow Miami Herald movie critic Rene Rodriguez on Twitter at @ReneMiamiHerald.