Updated: May 29, 2020
Great style moments in cinema are explored in this 15-question quiz, sure to delight fashionistas and fans of classic films alike.
(If you have not yet taken “Take the Picture! A Fashion-in-Film Quiz,” click here to go straight to the quiz.)
Question #1: Diana Ross stars as a Chicago woman who dreams of being a fashion designer, and on the way becomes a high-fashion model after she's “discovered” by photographer Anthony Perkins.
Answer: Mahogany. In addition to starring in the 1975 film, Ross also designed several of the costumes seen in the fashion-show scenes and is credited on IMDb as the film’s costume designer.
Question #2: In addition to the stars’ costumes, designer Adrian showed off his talents with a Technicolor fashion-show sequence in this 1939 black-and-white film.
Answer: The Women. Three years after The Women, Adrian opened his own fashion house, Adrian, Ltd., in Beverly Hills, and only returned to films once to design the costumes for 1952’s Lovely to Look At, produced by MGM.
Question #3: Set in a Paris fashion house, this 1935 musical stars Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Answer: Roberta. In addition to Dunne, Astaire and Rogers, look for an uncredited Lucille Ball toward the film’s end in the fashion-show scene, in which she plays a model. In 1957, 22 years after Roberta’s release, Ball would buy RKO, the studio where this film was made, and turn it into Desilu Productions with husband Desi Arnaz. Desilu became a major studio for television productions, filming iconic shows that included My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, Star Trek, and, of course, I Love Lucy.
Question #4: Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall star as three models hunting for rich husbands in this 1953 film, which includes a fashion show highlighting the talents of costume designer William Travilla.
Answer: How to Marry a Millionaire. The year prior to How to Marry a Millionaire, Travilla started working with Monroe, designing her costumes for 1952’s Don’t Bother to Knock and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. He also would design one of cinema’s most iconic costumes, her white pleated halter dress, which Monroe wears in the famous subway-grate scene in 1955’s The Seven Year Itch.
Question #5: In ultra-stylish costumes by Helen Rose, Lauren Bacall is a high-end designer whose life gets complicated after she marries Gregory Peck.
Answer: Designing Woman. The idea for the 1957 film was conceived by Rose, who receives not only a “Gowns by” credit in the film’s opening, but an earlier title card also states, “From a suggestion by Helen Rose.”
Question #6: In this 1944 musical, Rita Hayworth wins a contest that leads to a modeling career, but she returns to dancing and boyfriend Gene Kelly.
Answer: Cover Girl. Neither Hayworth nor Kelly was a major star prior to 1944, but the hugely successful Cover Girl, the first Technicolor film for Columbia Pictures, changed that. Two years later she would star in her most iconic role, in 1946’s Gilda.
Question #7: In this 1949 musical, Esther Williams plays a swimsuit designer, allowing costume designer Irene Lentz to include a fashion show featuring swimwear.
Answer: Neptune’s Daughter. Life later imitated art when Williams copied several of Lentz’s designs to create her own swimwear line.
Question #8: In this 1963 Paris-set comedy, Joanne Woodward plays a fashion buyer who must wear disguises because she’s known for copying high-end designs.
Answer: A New Kind of Love. Woodward co-stars with Paul Newman, whom she had married in 1958; they were married until his death in 2008. They did 10 films together.
Question #9: Joan Bennett plays a model who falls in love with her married couture-house boss, played by Warner Baxter, in this early Technicolor film.
Answer: Vogues of 1938. Many models seen in the fashion-show sequences were not actresses, but professional models imported from New York to appear in the film.
Question #10: In this 1966 comedy, Ann-Margret plays an assistant buyer who falls in love with both Paris and the fashion designer played by Louis Jourdan.
Answer: Made in Paris. Helen Rose’s costumes for Made in Paris reportedly cost $250,000; she toured with many of the costumes to coincide with the film’s opening. Ann-Margret, meanwhile, was allowed to keep any of her costumes that she wished, with a clause stating this included in her contract.
Question #11: This 1937 drama stars Joan Crawford as a factory worker who becomes a high-fashion model, with costumes by Adrian.
Answer: Mannequin. Adrian was responsible for creating key elements of Joan Crawford’s signature look, from her padded shoulders to her ankle-strap shoes, which she preferred because they provided the structure and support she desired for dancing.
Question #12: Costumes by Edith Head highlight this 1955 drama starring Jane Wyman as a stylish dressmaker who finds success in Texas.
Answer: Lucy Gallant. Edith Head makes a rare onscreen appearance in Lucy Gallant as the narrator of the fashion show.
Question #13: For this 1961 film starring Susan Hayward as a designer who loves a married man, Jean Louis earned an Oscar nomination for his designs.
Answer: Back Street. A remake of a 1932 film starring Irene Dunne, this updated version of Back Street was produced by Ross Hunter, who was known for sparing no expense to achieve the lush look he desired for his films, which also included Imitation of Life and Pillow Talk, both released in 1959. Hayward’s Jean Louis wardrobe for Back Street reportedly cost $100,000, a princely sum for 1961.
Question #14: William Powell plays an investment banker who partners with designer Bette Davis to knock off Paris fashions in this musical comedy with numbers by Busby Berkeley.
Answer: Fashions of 1934. Playing a fashion designer — the film’s costumes were created by Orry-Kelly — Bette Davis was “glammed up” at Jack Warner’s insistence; that’s why she’s wearing a platinum-blonde wig and dressed as a New York sophisticate. Davis reportedly hated it, but went along with the plan in the hopes of securing a part she really wanted, 1934’s Of Human Bondage, which was filming over at RKO. Warner agreed to loan her out after production of Fashions of 1934 wrapped, and Davis received her first Academy Award nomination for Of Human Bondage.
Question #15: In this 1957 musical, Audrey Hepburn, in costumes by Hubert de Givenchy, plays a bookstore clerk transformed into a high-fashion model who falls in love with photographer Fred Astaire.
Answer: Funny Face. Astaire’s character, Dick Avery, is based on real-life fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who worked with director Stanley Donen to design the main title backgrounds for Funny Face and also served as “special visual consultant” for the fashion-shoot montage.
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