The Business Directory team highlights West Side Story Fashion: Then vs. Now. Musical theatre enthusiasts will be familiar with the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story, the classic Romeo and Juliet styled musical retold through the lens of the 1950’s New York City street gangs. The importance of this movie has not only impacted the musical theatre world, but equally the fashion world.
The boyish, street fashion style that many of the men in the movie wear is retro as it is timeless. Straight legged, cuffed jeans are current trendsetters, and this style is seen on most of the male characters. This look was chosen for the movie not only because it represented the fashion during the 1950’s, but also because they were easy for the actors to dance in. This sentiment is reflected in all aspects of modern fashion, with comfort bearing equal importance to leisurely style.
The womenswear designs on display throughout the course of the film have not translated as much to modern fashion as the menswear designs have. Instead, modern adaptations of the musical have taken some of the key elements of the original costumes, such as colour palettes, and applied those to modern silhouettes. Instead of wearing a white A-line dress, a character might instead be seen wearing a modern, skintight white dress.
The bright, contrasting, trademark colour palettes of the show have also been seen on runways, as colour-blocking has become ever more fashionable. The two gangs that the film centres around are each defined by their distinct use of colour. This trend was seen on the Gucci Spring 2011 runway and has been present in current fashion designs as brighter colours have become more ubiquitous.
All in all, the youthful style of the 1950s is timeless, and West Side Story perfectly captures the youthfulness of fashion design while also reflecting how popular these styles are today.