In the 35 years since the original Blade Runner movie came out, fashion designers have looked to its unusual mashup of retro and futurism as a regular source of inspiration. What it got right was the way it took familiar references—1940s Hollywood glamour, early 1980s punk, film noir tropes—and threw them in a dystopian blender. Each character’s wardrobe signaled a type you understood, dislocated just enough to make it something strange and new.
“I was mesmerized by the mix of what was then futuristic with what was already retro,” designer Jeremy Scott told CNN. “That is what makes Blade Runner the gold standard (among) sci-fi dystopian worlds, as it’s believable. Because we do not live in a world where everything is from today … We live in a chaotic world of various decades of architecture, automotive design and fashion, combining and colliding all (in) that same moment.”
Blade Runner offered a vision of the future nobody had articulated before, and its influence is easy to see in the work of numerous designers. Among the high-profile examples are Alexander McQueen’s 1998 collection for Givenchy, which played off the remixed 1940s look of Rachael, the near-human “replicant” android who is the movie’s female lead. There was the overt reference to the punkish hair and makeup of “basic pleasure model” replicant Pris in Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2008 couture show. This year, Raf Simons showed a men’s collection on the streets of Chinatown in New York that reproduced the dark, rainy atmosphere of Blade Runner down to the umbrellas, while Bottega Veneta’s runway stylist admitted to the Financial Times (paywall) that she was inspired by Rachael’s look.