Egypt is known for many things… the country’s fascinating ancient history, culture, and even cinema.
In November of 1986, Alexandria and Cairo hosted some of the world’s first ever screenings of works by the Lumiére Brothers, who are credited with the creation of cinematography. Cairo in particular has been a center of culture and arts in the Arab World since the early 1900s, when it witnessed an artistic renaissance bringing us, among other things, the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema.
The industry shifted from silent movies to what were known as ‘talkies’, or films with recorded dialogue, by the 1930’s and 1940’s. The period is often described as a time when most films were about love, songs, and social classes. The period between 1940 and 1960 is what is generally known as the ‘Golden Age’ in Egyptian Cinema, when countless Arab creatives from the region migrated to Cairo in hopes of achieving stardom.
The starlets of this Golden Age were not just actresses, but strong female figures who shaped the industry and left a legacy that is still felt today. Successful names were often compared to Hollywood stars – such as Hind Rostom earning the title of the ‘Marilyn Monroe of Arabia’ and Soad Hosni as ‘The Cinderella of the Middle East’.
These two stars, among many at the time, always dressed fabulously in the different films they featured in – consistently looking the sharpest, in the most beautiful dresses, heels, and accessories. The costume designs were elaborate and extravagant creations that were made to shine beautifully on the screen.
Faten Hamama, an icon of Egyptian cinema, was known for her style which heavily featured sharp cuts and contrasting patterns. Nadia Lutfi, dabbling with the lines between masculine and feminine, became a trailblazer for form-fitting wear and tailored clothing. Hind Rostom, the blonde bombshell, loved curve-accentuating dresses with playful cuts and textures.
Soad Hosni was well known around the world, not just in the region, due to her triple threat talents of acting, singing, and dancing. However, her talent was not the only thing that garnered attention. Many of her musical films featured iconic looks and costumes, including the red dress from the film ‘Khaly Balak Min ZouZou’ while singing ‘El Donya Rabea’ in a field of flowers.
It cannot be denied that the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema is unforgettable. To this day, Egypt continues to be an industrial powerhouse within media and entertainment, with the cinema industry being celebrated annually at the Cairo Film Festival, where some of the world’s and region’s greatest talents are hosted and celebrated.