The Undeniable Fashion Influence Of ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’

Inside the franchise selling much more than whips and chains.

Although there is much to be said about Dakota Johnson’s off-duty Gucci dedication, and Jamie Dornan’s off-beat fitness routine, there’s quite a bit to be desired from the franchise of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Divisive at worst, and cringeworthy at best, the three-movie franchise—the third of which came out on Valentine’s Day—has garnered a somewhat notorious reputation. The films, which centre around coquettish college grad, Anastasia Steele, and her evolving relationship with a mysterious billionaire-cum-BDSM-dungeon-master, Christian Grey, have divided opinions globally.

While some consider the sex-heavy movies to be unsettling or perturbing when it comes to topics like consent and sex positivity, there are others who have no problem consuming all three as light-hearted, popcorn fest entertainment. The films have generally fielded low scores and lukewarm reviews, and have otherwise spurred on a whole divergent branch of spoof parodies.

But as conflicting as the general public’s opinions are, there’s no denying the effect Fifty Shades has had on the world of fashion.

Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) may start off the films as a bookish college student who wore “my one and only skirt, my sensible brown knee-length boots and a blue sweater,” she ends the franchise toting brand new Hermès Birkins, poured into Narciso Rodriguez sheaths and even grabbing lunch in an Alaïa fit-and-flare.

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Dakota Johnson in Narciso Rodriguez.

Unsurprisingly, with box-office numbers teetering around $500 million, the fashion side of the films have caused quite the stir.

Monique Lhuillier knows that all too well.

Lhuillier, a ready-to-wear and bridal designer, was approached by costume designer Shay Cunliffe to design a dress for the second installment, Fifty Shades Darker. The end result was the liquid silver column gown Ana wore to a masked ball complete with ornate lace mask and ostrich-feather cape.

Speaking to Racked, Lhuillier said the dress’ appearance in the film sparked an immediate uptick. “I don’t get too into the question of, ‘Is this going to translate into sales?'” said the designer. “That said, the masquerade dress garnered so much attention.”

Lhuillier continues to say that there was so much interest surrounding the dress that she eventually made it available to purchase from her site, where it is currently sold out in every size but one.

“There’s definitely a halo effect in addition to the direct sales of that dress.”

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Dakota Johnson in Monique Lhuillier.

The interest didn’t stop there. After hitting a homerun with the silver dress, Lhuillier was asked to design another for the franchise—Ana’s wedding dress.

The long-sleeved, off-the-shoulder lace gown, which features a button-closure back and a illusion sweetheart neckline has been used in most of the promotional material for the final film, prompting something of a frenzy.

Lhuillier confirms that she’s received so many calls, that she’d promised to produce a similar mass-market version to sell on her website.

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Dakota Johnson in Monique Lhuillier.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of Ana’s on-screen wardrobe got similar attention. Most of the clothes worn in the films, documented studiously by fans, are sold out, and there are entire website dedicated to unearthing similar styles or dupes to recreate the look.

Even the pricier garments (the blue fit-and-flare by Alaïa comes with a $4,200 price tag) were snapped up.

Of course, Anastasia Steele’s fashion influence didn’t cut off at the neck. Her on-screen beauty looks garnered the same amount of fan-devotion.

Alongside her mousy bangs and simple eye makeup, Dakota Johnson’s array of lipsticks and lip stains spurred a fanbase of its own.

From Glossier’s Generation G in ‘Jam,’ to Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick in ‘Heathers‘ (bulletproof for any and all kissing scenes, apparently), any shade that graced the lips of Johnson courted international fervour.

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Ana Steele’s Frenzy-Inducing Lipstick.

Considering the characters in Fifty Shades spend a good many minutes disrobed, it’s no surprise that Ana’s underthings have their own fanbase.

After the release of Darker, some fans were heartbroken to discover that the corset and garter combo worn by Ana during the eye-watering ben wa scene (YouTube at your own digression), was no longer available for purchase. The ‘Callie’ corset by lingerie giant Agent Provocateur has since been a hotly searched-for item across eBay ever since.

Fifty Shades Of Grey
Dakota Johnson in Agent Provocateur.

Even the plain cotton underwear worn by Johnson in the movie’s first sex scene, meant to hint at Ana’s naïveté and innocence, were a hit. The lace-edge bikini briefs—”It’s just white cotton panties and a bra but it’s the best possible white cotton panties and bra,” says costume designer Mark Bridges—are currently sold out on Neiman MarcusBarneys, and Bergdorf Goodman.

Fifty Shades Of Grey

We always knew that sex sold, but apparently BDSM sales aren’t too bad, either.

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