Of all the fantastic, retro futuristic costumes that Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan designed for Blade Runner, the ’40s film noir-inspired looks that they put together for replicant Rachael are our favorite — particularly the impeccably tailored two-piece suit pictured above. Just look at her shoulders! It’s almost enough to make a girl want to grow up to be a genetically engineered robot.
The Fifth Element – Earth, the 23rd Century
While Jean-Paul Gaultier’s outrageous leopard print jumpsuit for Chris Tucker’s fabulous Ruby Rhod character was certainly memorable — as was the red rose-embellished black jumpsuit that Tucker wore later in the film — it was Leeloo’s minimalistic mummy-bandage ensemble that we rate the most fashion forward. Who knew that white cloth restraints could look so chic?
Brazil – England, date unknown
Speaking of outlandish, have you met Sam Lowry’s mother, Ida? If there’s one thing that she and her equally narcissistic pals love more than plastic surgery, it’s putting together crazy, avant-garde outfits. You can tell that costume designer James Acheson was having a lot of fun here — just look at that totally insane Schiaparelli shoe hat!
Barbarella – Tau Ceti, 40,000
Barbarella is a woman of many, many costume changes; luckily the Franco-Italian design team of Jacques Fonteray and Paco Rabane were up to the challenge. While purists probably prefer the moments in the film when she’s completely in the buff (or wearing tiny and made of fur), we can’t help but be charmed by this sexy Peter Pan-style tunic with matching green boots. It looks like something Lady Gaga might opt for in one of her more demure moments.
Alien – The spaceship Nostromo, 2122
We’re guessing that John Mollo’s biggest design challenge was creating the latex costume that Bolaji Badejo wore as the film’s alien. But it was his decision to take Lieutenant Ellen Ripley out of her company-issued coveralls and into a tiny tank top and unisex cotton undies that made for its most iconic fashion moment. Who says you can’t look effortlessly sexy while battling it out for your life?
A Clockwork Orange – London, date unknown
Italian costume designer Milena Canonero’s big break was this 1971 Stanley Kubrick film; she would work with the director again on Barry Lyndon, winning her first of three Oscars for Best Costume Design. “In that period gangs and skinheads were a societal reality, spoken of constantly,” she has explained of her frequently-referenced look for the Droogs. “I was in London at the time and, even if I stylized, I was inspired by what I saw around me.” Also of note: Apparently Alex originally had long fake eyelashes on both of his eyes, but after seeing him with one removed, Kubrick said he liked the “relentless, surreal” vibe it created.
The Matrix – Zion and The Matrix, 2199
Frankly, we think it’s impossible to top Trinity’s black vinyl cat suit — so simple, sexy, and badass. But it’s Neo’s sweeping black coat that the Matrix trilogy’s Australian costume designer, Kym Barrett, believes to be the most memorable. “The jackets evolved through the movie,” she has explained. “As Keanu evolved, I changed the structure of them slightly to enhance his stature. At the end of the second one, definitely, it had a more regal silhouette.” In other words, as the costumes got better, the movies got worse.
Logan’s Run – 2274, Washington DC
Designed by Billy Thomas, Jessica 6’s Roman-inspired one-piece was functional too, tailor-made for the easy access required by the society’s hedonistic ways. Apparently, all of the women in the film were originally meant to wear frocks that were equally skimpy, but the body makeup that that would have required wasn’t in the budget. We can totally picture Jennifer Lopez rocking something like this on the red carpet of today — complete with the ankh pendant.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – Bartertown, 2004
Two words: Tina Turner. Could this post-apocalyptic biker look — conceived by Australian costume designer Norma Moriceau — be any more fabulous?
Tank Girl – 2033, Earth
The wild, colorful ensembles that Arianne Phillips dreamed up for Lori Petty’s Tank Girl explain why the Oscar-nominated costume designer has been working with Madonna since 1997. From the candy necklaces to the ripped baseball sock as sleeves to steampunk goggles to the crazy checkered rocket bra pictured above, her vision of what a militaristic desert punk anti-heroine would wear is a total sensory overload, injected with just the right amount of ’90s whimsy. Was Tank Girl the original Harajuku Girl? Discuss.