By and and and  on March 3, 2010

PARIS — When Donatella Versace was preparing her men’s collection for fall, she logged onto YouTube to check out trailers for the forthcoming science fiction film, “Tron Legacy.”

For Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, meanwhile, it was Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Baarìa,” which made its debut at the last Venice Film Festival and scored a Golden Globe nomination, that set the themes for its latest men’s collection so precisely that what paraded on the catwalk in January was echoed in “Baarìa” scenes projected as a backdrop.

Current and forthcoming feature films are influencing fashion to a blockbuster degree, with “Avatar” references sweeping through the spring couture collections in January and the release of Tim Burton’s Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” this week coinciding with a slew of product tie-ups and retail showcases, from windows at Bloomingdale’s in New York and Printemps in Paris to an “Alice”-inspired young women’s range hitting Uniqlo stores starting this month.

“Movies are always an inspiration: It’s a reflection of the times,” mused Versace, whose spring women’s collection, unveiled in October in Milan, was partly inspired by Burton’s anticipated new film.

“I had seen stills from the new movie, which were enough to fire my imagination,” she explained. “I am a big Tim Burton fan, and as soon as I heard he was working on this story, it was really easy to see how to do a take on his own surreal vision. It was really fitting for the times, too. Why not have some fun with fantasy?”

While old movies like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Rear Window” have long inspired a swath of designers, the fixation with what’s showing now at — or coming soon to — the local Cineplex, is a new wrinkle, and a switch from fashion’s recent dalliance with contemporary art during the luxury boom.

“The reach of film via the cinema audience, but also via television, DVD and the Internet, far outweighs any other artistic medium — nothing compares to that sort of power,” said Linda Hewson, head of creative at Selfridges in London, which last week inaugurated an “Alice” concept shop in the Wonder Room of its Oxford Street flagship selling a range of products, from jewelry and clocks to beauty products and clothes by Alice Temperley. “Also, all these formats are by essence mainstream and inexpensive so they cut across all cultural and social divides,” said Hewson. “Showing fashion in movement — such as films can do — allows for a stronger emotional response from the viewer so films are naturally a powerful way to promote fashion.”

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