Fashion Fact #5

The first celebrity-inspired clothing came out in the 30’s.

Macy's copied this 1932 puffed sleeve dress by Adrian for Joan Crawfod in Letty Lynton.

Celebrity fashion, a favourite (or shall I say least-favourite) topic here at Searching for Style, appears to have invaded our lives in the past ten years, but in fact, it has been some time since people have been emulating the styles of the famous. Despite the 30’s being a rather depressing decade, Hollywood film stars were influencing the way other people dressed for the first time. The twenties saw the appearance of fashion “brands” where consumers sought after particular labels and names, rather than types of clothing, and in the 30’s, American cinema began to have an enormous impact on fashion. Film stars’ set wardrobes were being copied and sold, and “celebrity fashion” was also covered, for the time, in fashion magazines like WWD and Vogue. This article features a few images of “famous” celebrity fashion from the 30’s, some of the first actresses’ outfits that were reproduced for the mass market.

Walter Plunkett's "barbecue dress", designer for Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara in 1939

What happened after that? The phenomenon continued, but it wasn’t until the late 90’s that celebrity fashion began to completely take over our lives. How I long for the days where models were on the covers of magazines, and there weren’t publications and websites entirely dedicated to emulating celebrities’ outfits…

Claudette Colbert's nightwear in It Happened One Night (1934) started a pyjama trend (as did the pyjamas her co-star, Clark Gable was wearing.)

  • lisa

    Interesting read. I reviewed an academic book on the evolution of glamour throughout the twentieth century earlier this year and a lot of the discussion centred around Hollywood film. There was one interesting tidbit in there about how the general population embraced metallics, feathers, fur, and sequins because the films popularized it. And the reason why these materials were so popular in films and with the filmmakers? They provided textural contrast and visual interest in a black-and-white medium.

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  • Anonymous

    Great comment! Thanks for that. To be honest, I don’t know much about that
    era, all I know is the general history, so any additional information is
    very much appreciated!