How fashion revolves around Wes Anderson’s cinematic universe

During Wes Anderson’s last big screen release—The French dispatch—all eyes were on the one element in the film rivaling ingenious handwriting … the clothes. The characters are impeccably dressed without fail in any Anderson film, a guarantee as unshakable as the clever architecture of the backdrop. From the years 1998 Rushmore and later hits like The Grand Hotel Budapest, the Texas-born filmmaker is enhancing his niche aesthetic by calling on fashion’s most notable designers to dress up inventive visions.

Coupled with a breathtaking cast of lovers Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton and many others, The French dispatch was one of Anderson’s most detailed films to date. Lucky for us, that includes a treasure trove of pastel monochrome looks, quirky sweater vests, motorcycle helmets, and a cute execution of France’s most relentless cliché: berets. Behind the drawings was the director’s favorite collaborator: the Italian costume designer, Milena Canonero.

A still image of several main characters from The French dispatch, costumed by Milena Canonero

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Four-time Oscar winner, Canonero is something of a holy grail in cinematic fashion. In addition to her faint-worthy work in the Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette (2006), Canonero has accumulated the entire summary of Anderson’s feature films. For The Grand Hotel Budapest in 2014, Wes merged the Canonero ingenuous with his other favorite sidekick: Prada. The two worked together to bring Willem Dafoe’s iconic motorcycle jacket and a lavish set of luggage to life. Fendi even grabbed a feature for Tilda Swinton’s red look.

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Prada luggage in The Grand Hotel Budapest

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Willem Dafoe wearing Prada leather trench coat

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Tilda Swinton in Fendi during a scene from The Grand Hotel Budapest

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But the 2014 film wasn’t Prada and Canonero’s first crossover. A year earlier, the Italian house had co-created an 8-minute film with Anderson titled Cavalcanti Castle, an offbeat comedy set in 1950s Italy.

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Aside from a slight branding and the inclusion of a Prada logo here and there, Cavalcanti Castle could certainly pass for an Anderson mini-project. Yet after its release, fans wondered if the piece was an advertisement or an art, especially as it followed Anderson’s leadership of a Prada “Candy” fragrance campaign alongside Roman Coppola. .

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In 2015, the duo consolidated their strategic partnership at Fondazione Prada. Anderson designed Bar Luce, a café to travel back in time to 1960s Milan or to immerse yourself in one of his films. Nearby, the famous Prada-owned Pasticceria Marchesi is believed to be a real Wes Anderson bakery, with cakes identical to Mendl’s in The Grand Hotel in Budapest. Both are hot spots for Milanese tourists, Prada junkies and loyal fans of the filmmaker.

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Bar Luce by Wes Anderson at Fondazione Prada

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Contrasting his interest in European fashion, another frequent client of Anderson is none other than Marc Jacobs himself. For the two films of 2007: Darjeeling Limited and its prequel, Hotel Chevalier, Jacobs designed colorful slip-on looks by Natalie Portman, Jason Schwartzman and many more. As Anderson sketched out a preliminary inspiration, Marc fine-tuned and made his daydreams come true.

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Natalie Portman dressed by Marc Jacobs in the 2007s Hotel Chevalier

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Darjeeling Limited was born during the days of Louis Vuitton’s creative direction from Jacobs, so the house’s iconic luggage obviously made an appearance with its own role – the centerpiece of the plot (along with the flannel suits). And aside from the movies he designed in, Jacobs said The Guardian in 2008 that he drew major artistic inspiration from Anderson’s most fashionable film: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001).

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Starring a furry, blunt-haired Gwenyth Paltrow in her infamous role as Margot Tenenbaum, the film picked up an entire runway season years after the release, illustrating just how powerful Anderson’s style was. Gucci, Miu Miu and Lacoste (which was a clear homage to Wes, since Paltrow wore a Lacoste shirt dress in the film) are just a handful of labels whose collections have been influenced by The Royal Tenenbaums.


Karen Patch, a slightly under-the-radar costume designer, was responsible for creating the iconic looks of the Tenenbaums, following her work on Anderson’s Rushmore from 1998. But if the costume sounded like Wes’ personal style … that’s because it was. The filmmaker enlisted the help of his rather unknown personal tailor for many years, Vahram Mateosian of Mr. Ned in New York City, a minimalist store on 5th Avenue and 20th Street. Wes Anderson is more or less exclusively dressed by Mr. Ned’s, having amassed over 25 costumes when Mateosian spoke to the Los Angeles Times in 2007.

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The most remarkable looks of The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001

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Clothing has entwined itself in cinema since the black-and-white images of the 1900s, but no director in history has harnessed the art of styling like Anderson. Fashion tells a non-verbal story to bridge the individual characters and the foggy era genre of each film, and then exemplify the official Wes Anderson stamp. His attention to detail is unmatched, even down to the placement of the socks. A single character’s gaze at a mannequin can represent an entire Anderson movie, on every level. It is so distinct.

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FIDM 2015 fair The Grand Hotel Budapest costumes … would you even need someone to tell you who was behind them?

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