Egypt Independent

Movie Fashion: Thirty years of glitz and glam



Egypt has known the art of movie making since the 1920s but in the last three decades, fashion has changed the face of cinema. Female protagonists in the last 30 years encouraged women to get out of their shells and dress like a movie star.

The eighties were a revolutionary decade in music, cinema and, above all, fashion. In this era, shoulders pads were rediscovered and plastic earrings became a fad. Leg warmers, leggings, head bands, and poufy sleeves were among many other fashion trends that displayed on the silver screen. During this fashion crusade, Nadia al-Guidy, Elham Shahin, Soheir Ramzi, and Laila Elwy were the champions.

However, fashion trends arrived to our part of the world relatively late. In 81 and 82, female actresses were still dressed in 70s fashion of big square shades, big accessories, and bell bottom pants. A clear example of that is Sohair Ramzi and Rowaa al-Kateb in “Ragol Faqad Aqlo” (A Man who Lost his Mind, 1980).

In the mid eighties, fashion trends started to change; shoulder pads, leggings, big earrings, blonde highlights (then referred to as machete–streaks of shocking blond across the hair that were expected to stand out rather than blend in) were that in thing. The only one that stood out was Nadia al-Guidy, who always wore what is in her wardrobe as opposed to what the role needed! Actress Nabila Ebeid in “Eghteyal Modaressa” (The Assassination of a Teacher, 1987) and “al-Tahadi” (The Challenge,1988) represent this period.

The early nineties were a mess as well; female movie stars constantly wore eighties items. Nabila Ebeid in “Raqessa we Seyassi” (A belly dancer and a politician, 1990), and Sherihane in “Kesh Malek” (Checkmate, 1993) and Laila Elwy in “al-Hagama” (The thug, 1992) are clear example of such a trend. Hot lacy nightgowns played a humongous role in Egyptian cinema; filming a scene or two in the bedroom seemed to be a favored habit for movie makers.

The queen of the nineties is by far Nabila Ebeid, not only in the number of movie she did but also as the fashionista of the era. Her outfits in Kashf al-Mastour (The uncovering, 1994) were outstanding. The nineties were an indecisive era, a transition between the colorful eighties and the modernity of the 2000. If one could pinpoint key trends from the nineties, it would be brown lipstick, hoop earrings and bangs.

The 2000 witnessed a cinematic facelift; the entire crew of the eighties and nineties slowly faded and a new and fresh group of young actresses emerged. Mona Zaki, Hanan Turk, Boshra, Menna Shalaby, Hend Sabry made their breakthrough during the first few years of the millennium bringing forwards simplicity, modernity, colorfulness and funk to the silver screen.

In the early years of the millennium, the young superstars were hung up on brown lipstick (Mona Zaki) but that soon disappeared, creating room for simple make-up, layered hair, blue jeans, tight tops, tank tops, cotton cardigans, hooded sweatshirts, and cocktail dresses.

The last ten years were revolutionary in terms of discipline; the actresses actually wore what suited the character, not what was available in their wardrobes!

For the first time movie fashion trends went hand in hand with the rest of the world. The age of internet and cable made it easy for Egyptian superstars to stay connected to fashion trendsetters all over the world.  

Fashion is a fascinating thing, in ten years from now we will be looking at today’s movies amazed at weird taste and the ridiculous outfits! The amazing thing about fashion, though, is the fact that it repeats itself and every time a fashion trends emerges from the past we embrace it with open arms.