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Three Style-Inspiring Black and White Films

If stuck for inspiration, a first port of call is usually old hollywood. Delving into black and white movie history always delivers and was a key reference when developing our classic Monochrome Collection

Here are our top three swoon-worthy monochrome movies. 

Shanghai Express, 1932

 

No secret that we love Marlene Dietrich; she is the namesake of our classic double-breasted PJs. Shanghai Express was directed by Josef von Sternberg and set in China amidst a period of civil war and tense political turmoil with Dietrich playing Shanghai Lily, a courtesan. The film is an ode to beautiful cinematography, glorious lighting and an homage to Dietrich's bone structure. If you've ever seen a dreamy soft focus still of Dietrich, it's likely from Shanghai Express.

 

The silvery light and shadow are almost like another character in the film, working perfectly to make us drool at the sheer opulence of the silk, velvet, beading and feathers. Look out for Dietrich in superb PJs (natch), epic kimono styled robes and a beaded collar that has catalysed many a hopeful vintage shopping trawl.  Special mention to co-star Anna May Wong's au courant hair and cheongsam game.

 

 

Breathless (1960)

 
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 Nouvelle Vague film Breathless still feels fresh and current today almost 70 years on. The story is of a reckless, cocky, petty thug and his beautiful, neurotic, (but perfectly dressed) aspiring journalist girlfriend (played by Jean Seberg),  who reluctantly hides him from the police as he scams and flirts his way around the streets of Paris to scrounge enough money to get the pair to Italy.
  
What makes it one of the coolest and most influential films in the history of cinema is not just the fast-moving scenes and the tremendous jazz soundtrack but the style. The effortless, natural wardrobes of the two leads are rumoured to have been their own choices - there is no costume director on the credits - and it shows. Seburg's paired back, casual  insouciance is French nonchalance at its best - proving that a simple white T-shirt and a pair of cropped trousers, a simple striped dress on a hot day or a man's shirt worn just so, can be the epitome of style. 

Roman Holiday, 1953

 

In a classic tale of beautiful-princess-gone-wayward-in-search-of-freedom, Roman Holiday delivers one hell of an Audrey Hepburn style reverie - it's pure 19050s ingenue.

 

It's fair to say that legendary costume designer Edith Head's costumes from the film made Audrey an instannt star. From boxy button-up blouses to high-waisted circle skirts and silk scarves it's a pulled together look that seems to re-emerge year after year when we start thinking about summer travel. 

 

Oh, and she has a beautiful striped PJ moment too. 

 

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