Magazine article Variety

Outfits with a Pattern

Magazine article Variety

Outfits with a Pattern

Article excerpt

THE DEVIL LIVES in the details - and that's a good thing during this awards season, in which multiple films eagerly tread on one another's toes, whether with overlapping eras, themes, locations or even titles: think of Todd Haynes' "Wonderstruck" and Woody Allen's "Wonder Wheel" - both of which use New York City as an escapist destination in the 20th century - not to mention "Wonder Woman" and "Wonder."

Nonetheless, all these films are starkly different thanks in large part to designers' visions, particularly when it comes to costume choices. Directors certainly have the overall vision, but it's the choices in outfits that make for big differences in look, feel, tone and even story.

"There can be two designers working on the same period and films will come out looking completely differently," says "Wonderstruck" costume designer Sandy Powell, who clothed characters who live both in 1927 and 1977, two "revolutionary" eras, as she describes them, in terms of fashion. "It's about your unique choice in how to accessorize someone or highlight colors or the color palette."

"Wonder Wheel's" designer Suzy Benzinger outfitted largely for beachwear at Coney Island, which meant drawing on Allen's memories of the era and - thanks to a lucky find - a book of photographs from the mid-1950s owned by head of the lifeguards at Coney in 1948. Even better: it was in color.

"Woody wanted this to all be joyous color; the world is changing, there's new beginnings," she says, indicating a decision to use an of-theera turquoise aqua color in waitress uniforms. "I wanted to choose 'memory color,' and he said, 'That's it, that's what I remember.' It's a color you don't see much anymore."

Alexander Payne's "Downsizing" and Denis Villeneuve's "Blade Runner 2049," different as they are, have a surprising number of elements in common. "Downsizing" takes place in a kind of permanent now but seems to veer into the 2040s, the period in which the "Blade Runner" update also takes place. And both films contemplate the destruction of the environment, yet neither truly embraces futuristic fashion.

In the case of "2049," Renée April was inspired by 1982's "Blade Runner," with costumes by Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan. "I tried to be true to the first one," she says. "Not a copy, but to continue in the same vision."

That meant adapting such items as the original's iconic trench coats and fake fur coats into ones that made sense in a harsher, colder, dying world. …

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