Roland Barthes wrote in "The Language of Fashion":
Man invented clothing for four reasons:
1. as protection against harsh weather
2. out of modesty for hiding nudity
3. for ornamentation to get noticed
4. the function of meaning, in order to carry out a signifying activity; a profoundly social act right at the heart of the dialectic of society (beyond modesty, ornamentation, protection)

There is no doubt a link between certain types of dress that pertain to certain professions, social classes, religions, towns, etc. And this conscious coding in clothing is exactly why great writers such as Baudelaire, Edgar Poe, Michelet, and Proust, have always been preoccupied with clothing in their works. They understood that clothing is an element that "involved the whole of being". (Barthes, 96)

Then, it is only fitting that costume design in the film industry plays one of the most significant roles in creating a character. As Audrey Hepburn had once described in an interview about her praise for Hubert Givenchy:

He was "a personality-maker and a psychiatrist..." providing her with a look that gave her the confidence to act. "It was...an enormous help to know that I looked the part...Then the rest wasn't so tough anymore. Givenchy's lovely simple clothes [gave me] the feeling of being whoever I played." (Source: Christie's)

Audrey Hepburn's iconic wardrobe in Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the main aspects of what makes this film a classic. Hepburn travelled to Paris herself to handpick this young designer and boldly overstepped the monolithic Edith Head (and her reign as Head Costume Designer at Paramount for many years). Head was credited the "Wardrobe Supervisor", an incredible insult for a designer of her calibre. However, she had full control as Costume Designer in To Catch a Thief (and was nominated for an Academy Award in Best Costume Design, though she did not win), giving an incredible boost to Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in their iconic roles of epitomized glamour.

Similarly, the costuming in La Dolce Vita, even in black and white, gave this film its aura of glamour. It is said that Federico Fellini was inpsired by Cristobal Balenciaga's "Sack Dress" (1957) for the storyline of La Dolce Vita. Brunello Rondi, Fellini's co-screenwriter and long-time collaborator, confirmed that "the fashion of women's sack dresses which possessed that sense of luxurious butterflying out around a body that might be physically beautiful but not morally so; these sack dresses struck Fellini because they rendered a woman very gorgeous who could, instead, be a skeleton of squalor and solitude inside." Balenciaga was an innovator in fabrics, and his sculptural creations were the most celebrated in haute couture of the 1950s and 1960s. And beyond this initial inspiration through fashion, the tone is continued throughout the movie, with Anita Eckberg's strapless black gown and Anouk Aimee's simple black sheath dress. "The transparent mesh at the decolletage and the back makes it incredibly sexy and restrained," says Jay Weissberg, Variety's film critic based in Rome. "Roman women tend to love clothes that create an impression of strength as well as femininity."

However, apparel and guise cannot hold their own without a fitting environment to display them within.

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