The oscar nominated film “Call Me By Your Name” takes place in a small, northern Italian town in the 1980s, and to most viewers, there could not be a time or place more foreign. Viewers of the film are inherently forced to ask themselves questions like “Who were these people?” or “What did these people do?” or “What did these people wear?”
This last question was asked and answered by Giulia Piersanti, the film’s costume designer, who dressed the two lead actors of the film in white high top Converse, billowing Lacoste polos, short bathing suits, light colored denim, and ’80s themed graphic t-shirts. The critically acclaimed film is only the second that Piersanti has worked on because she is more likely to be found working as a knitwear designer at Céline. Nevertheless, the designer has received high praise from fashion and film critics alike, and it’s important to understand exactly how and why that is.
Film influencing fashion isn’t a revolutionary concept; the two have been closely intertwined since the creation of cinema itself. Whether it was Mia Wallace’s white button up and cropped, black pants in Pulp Fiction mirrored in the fashion choices of the 1990s or the blazers of Heathers inspiring emerging fashion brands like Shushu/Tong today, the wardrobe selections of those portrayed on screen have always had a way of finding their way onto the runway in some capacity.
In the case of Call Me By Your Name, the link can be seen through the trend line of those searching for the film and those searching for the brand Converse, which began fluctuating at the same rates toward the end of 2017. Although Converse received more searches overall, it is more likely that the film caused a general increased interest in the brand, whose iconic white high tops are clearly displayed on the two male leads.
The fashion choices of Call Me By Your Name are so important because they apply style used today without compromising authenticity–a sense of what this time and place must have been like. Piersanti strove, through timeless trends, to place the actors within the setting of the film, and gave subtle indications of each character’s identity and sexuality.
When asked about her inspiration for the designs, Piersanti responded, “Visual research came from some of my own family photo albums of my parents—especially for Elio and his parents and friends—but also actual local families from where we were shooting for the background town people. Some research came from fashion magazines and movies of the time.”
Piersanti wanted to ensure that the fashion choices were relevant, but didn’t distract from the emotions of the story. She wanted to convey a story of summer and sensuality through clothes that were true to the ’80s without being cliché, and she undoubtedly succeeded.
Great article! The link between fashion choices and cinema is clearly identified and will continue to affect the masses clothing and lifestyle choices well into the future!