Could any film have been more influential when it comes to my early interest and foray into fashion? As if!
Ever since I was an “ensemble’y challenged… virgin who can’t drive,” Clueless has been a major influence when it comes to my love of high fashion and couture. I totally fell in love with it the very moment I saw the scene at the beginning of the movie, when Cher is wearing her “most capable” outfit and has just been shopping at Tiffany, Fendi and Fred Segal in Rodeo Drive!
When it came out back in July 1995, the world fashion-wise was just on the tail-end of grunge and teens at school never really dressed up. Both director Amy Heckerling and costume designer Mona May wanted to do something a bit more colorful and different, that was femminine and pretty and would get American girls to dress up again.
They took what teenagers were wearing at the time and made it chic and blown out of proportion, making a caricature of modern life back in the mid-90’s. Mona herself scoured high and low for both vintage and designer pieces, even being donated the gorgeous dress designed by Calvin Klein that Cher wore on her date with Christian and even the red Alaïa she wore “that is, like, a totally important designer!” This film really gave those who aspired for more a glimpse into the charmed lives of Beverley Hills teens, where everyone can afford nice clothes and the World is a “much, much better place.”
All of the girls had their own looks, each looking like “total Betty’s!” Cher was the innocent ingenuene in her alice bands and maryjanes, Dionne was a wild sexpot in her crazy animal prints and Doctor Seus hats, Tai was the cool skater girl with her plaid skirts and teeny, weeny midriff bareing tops and Amber was a “total Monet” with her Pippi Longstocking plaits and feather embellished ensembles. Even the boys had instantly recognizable looks, from Christian’s elegant rat pack look, to Josh’s “totally Baldwin” charms, to Murray’s Hip Hop Contempo Casual, to Travis’s laid back, T-shirts and cut off shorts that gave him his quintessential “Loadie” vibe. Certainly no “Barneys” here! (Clueless slang for unfortunate looking male with no style or sense of fashion.) There was never a dull moment in this film, satorially speaking!
Even the girls outfits were perfectly coordinated with each other and took inspiration from whatever season they were in. As May says “There was kind of an ongoing seasonal color palette, so in the fall, Cher and Dionne are wearing reds, yellowsand oranges. In the Christmas scene, where they are at the Valley party, everyone is wearing red and greens. And then in the end, when Christian arrives, it’s the beginning of spring, so that’s when the pastels and the pink fluffy pen come in.”
The movie was so monumental when it came out, that Vogue and WWD (fashion daily newspaper Women’s Wear Daily) called it the fashion film of the year! Even Time magazine said that it was like watching a fashion show in motion.
Designers in more modern times have recreated some of Clueless’s iconic looks, like Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel when he featured the Chanel-esque metal strap water bottles that were shown in the movie where the our girls are seen at PE or when the house of Calvin Klein in 2010 reissued Cher’s white dress she wears with Christian. This girl is a fashion powerhouse!
Makes me want to get out my thigh-high stockings, maryjanes and alice band and then “outie!” So totally gnarly! And trust me, I am still totally buggin’ about not yet having Cher’s computerized dream closet yet.