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Clothes on film: Clueless

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As this week's issue is dedicated to film and fashion, we've explored the genre further and looked at how the iconic looks on screen were created. Here, Chris Laverty who writes the fashion and film blog, Clothes on Film honours Cher Horowitz's simple, yet sexy, little white dress.

"The look costume designer Mona May created for Clueless invented a new sub-culture of fashion. Until Clueless there was no such thing as high school chic. Teenagers in mid-nineties Beverly Hills were wearing exactly the same as everyone else in America: grunge - i.e. baggy jeans, baseball caps and tie-dye t-shirts.

But Clueless is drenched in cheerful, colourful, crazy creations, floppy felt hats, faux fur and teeny backpacks. Yet its most memorable ensemble is a plain white silk shift dress taken off the peg from Calvin Klein. Which is an appropriate choice as Calvin Klein is as American as apple pie. The label is the epitome of understated chic, which is pretty much the opposite of Alicia Silverstone’s lovable airhead Cher.

This makes the dress a meaningful choice as it signifies the moment she stops being a girl and becomes a woman. Suddenly everyone is looking at Cher with fresh eyes. Her outfit is clingy and alluring, even though up until this point she has been presented as absolutely unattainable. Really, Cher is something of a feminist; she dresses for herself and her friends, not the male gaze. Of course the CK shift also features in one of the film’s most memorable dialogue exchanges:

Cher’s father: “What the hell is that?”

Cher: “It’s a dress”

Father: “Says who?”

Cher: “Calvin Klein”

He then suggests she wear something over the top, so Cher grabs a see-though shirt.

This simple white dress, while very much of its era (placing a cap-sleeve t-shirt underneath would make it even more so), could still be worn just as easily today. In fact with Calvin Klein’s permission, Hollywood boutique Confederacy re-issued the garment in 2010. Unfortunately, no one has yet seen fit to honour clashing yellow plaid in the same way."

To see more, head to clothesonfilm.com

Read Chris' take on Jordan Baker's flapper outfit in this year's The Great Gatsby here.

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