West Side Story (1961)

1960s Fashion in Films West Side Story

Copyright © 1961 United Artists

West side story when adapted from a Broadway production to film, took its costume designer with it.  Irene Sharaff second only to Edith Head in winning 5 academy awards, complimented this production (both on stage and on screen) perfectly with her costumes. Block colour was the inspiration for this film, a look that has come back time and time again, most recently, in spring summer 2011 when designers such as Gucci and Jil Sander were clashing colours.

Irene Sharaff said “I see everything in blocks of color, rather like a painting, if I have a leitmotif, a logo, I suspect it is associated with the colors I prefer: reds, pinks, oranges”. A story about two rival gangs on the streets of New York and their fight for status, Irene segregated them with colours, giving the native New York yuppies, the jets, more neutral yellows, oranges and blues in fitting fabrics like corduroy and felt, while the Puerto Rican Sharks had more daring brash colours, reds purples and pinks.


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Written by Jemma De Blanche

Jemma De Blanche is a fashion and lifestyle journalist with a background in marketing and copy-writing, is in awe of all things creative and loves getting lost in a good book, a beautiful picture or the creativity of new collection. Jemma handles the Fashion in Film pages and the Men's catwalk reviews.

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