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TV’s Influence on Fashion

Whatever your age, young or old, stars of the big screen regularly influence our fashion choices as we aspire to copy their own style, and that of the characters that they portray on film. Over the years, TV has seen a steady rise in respectability and bigger budgets through increased competition have resulted in wider audiences. Costume designers are, increasingly, switching to the small screen to use their skills and imagination to influence us in our own homes.

Killing Eve made a triumphant return to our screens last month, filling our imagination with even more fashion inspiration than series one. In the last series, the stand-out moment was Villanelle wearing Molly Goddard’s frothy, pink, tulle dress, with contrasting black, buckle boots, with lots of copycat outfits inevitably appearing for Halloween. In this series, a Rosie Assoulin blouse paired with flashy Christian Lacroix earrings, and a Jason Wu jewel-green, satin coat will have already inspired copies on the high street. Yet, it is one of the more outlandish styles that seems to have caught the media and public attention the most; Villanelles pop-art printed pyjamas looked both comfy to lounge around in and chic in the way they were cropped and fitted to her physique. Pyjamas as daywear is nothing new to fashion, but this fabric, bought locally to Manchester at Altrincham fabric retailer, Funkifabrics, had more than just a touch of the playful about it.

Although the temperatures have finally risen a little, when discussing TV’s impact on fashion it would difficult to forget the chunky, white sweater with black motif, featured throughout the Danish TV series, ‘The Killing’ (known as Forbrydelsen in Denmark). This knitted jumper was chosen specifically by the actress, Sofie Gråbøl, tobe worn by herself as heroine Sarah Lund. It was hand knitted on the Faroe Islands using undyed, organic wool. It spawned hundreds of imitations across the high street, and proved so popular for its creators, Gudrun & Gudrun, that they couldn’t meet the demand. A prime example of a well-chosen clothing prop that captured the mood of the programme.

Then, there are those programmes that have brought old fashions back to the front of our wardrobes. Mad Men inspired both men and women’s fashions. Men became interested in emulating dapper Don Draper’s slim suits, whilst the female characters’ retro style of little cardigans and voluminous skirts, inspired collections by Louis Vuitton and Prada. This was all the creation of costumer designer Jane Bryant, who made a name for herself outside of television, where her work has included collaborations with Brooks Brothers and Banana Republic, and even her own book.

At about the same time,the hugely successful Downton Abbey was being aired on TV. Alongside the surroundings, the costumes were important to identify not only the era, but the class of each character. Ralph Lauren famously sent English countryside-inspired garments down the catwalk for his 2012 autumn winter show. The inspiration was obvious, with or without the sound of the Downton Abbey theme tune playing, as the models walked down the runway.

In a more contemporary setting, Sex and the City has often been called the most fashionable television programme of all time. Whilst programmes such as Killing Eve embody unique and varied styles, rather than copying an era or being restricted to just a few key items, it’s possible this crown could be waning. But let’s not forget the impact of Carrie's Manolo’s, Charlottes penchant for pink, Samantha’s love of colour-blocking, and Miranda’s signature sleek suits. Their outfits added to their personalities, as each one of us attempted to identify with one of them, and the easiest way to do this was by imitating their style.

All of this doesn’t mean that fashion inspired by TV is only just making an impact on our lives. Just take a look at Dynasty in the 1980’s or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 1990’s. Both of these are identifiable, to this day, for the costumes that influenced the world of fashion. But when a series such as Killing Eve comes around, engaging the audience to admire a narcissistic, psychopathic assassin, not only for her easy ruthlessness and funny personality, but also because of an attraction to the clothes she’s wearing, then TV’s impact on fashion is immense.

Television can inspire fashion sales in other ways, just by association. When ITV’s Mr Selfridge was aired on TV, online sales for the department store spiked. Although the show wasn’t related to anything currently on sale, the suggestion towards fashion and desirability was enough for shoppers to start typing away.

The fashion industry is quick to recognise the influence that television has on our lives. The way we think, talk or covet certain items is often governed by the programmes that we watch; from period dramas to contemporary dramas, or even from soap operas to ‘Strictly’ sequins and glitz. But not all memorable costumes make a vast profit for the fashion industry. The magnificently long, multi-coloured, knitted scarf worn by Tom Baker in Doctor Who is remembered and recognised by many. It’s a piece of clothing that defines an era and has become imprinted on our minds. Just as Villanelle’s chic costumes will be referenced time and time again.

About Our Author: Katie Calvert's background is in fashion and textiles with a first class honours degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion and experience in trend, PR and events. She decided to take the plunge back into education in 2015 to complete a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Using these newfound skills and her love of fashion and culture, Katie has been freelance writing for over a year.

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