Early in Don’t Fear Darling, Alice (Florence Pugh) diligently cleans her picture-perfect suburban residence in a classy print frock protected by an equally stylish floral apron. Each element in Olivia Wilde’s much-discussed second characteristic, from the manicured lawns to the attractive attire hanging on the clothes line, is a snapshot of the idyllic Victory group.
However appearances are misleading, and the psychological thriller starring Academy Award-nominee Pugh and international celebrity Harry Kinds as a fortunately married (and attractive) couple has many secrets and techniques effervescent beneath the shiny Victory floor—on and off display. On the latest Venice Movie Competition, each made a splash on the purple carpet in Valentino and Gucci, however they appear equally suited to the late ‘50s backdrop.
“That is postwar American idealism when girls have been glamorous housewives,” costume designer Arianne Phillips tells ELLE.com in regards to the Don’t Fear Darling aesthetic. At Venice, Phillips acquired the Campari Ardour for Movie Award for her collaboration with Wilde on the movie, and this partnership is one she talks about fondly. The designer is not any stranger to midcentury sartorial thrives, receiving Oscar nominations for her work on Stroll the Line and As soon as Upon a Time… in Hollywood (she was additionally nominated for the ‘30s-set W.E.). “I’m attracted to those very American tales. I’m interested in the time interval,” she says about this recurring theme and the “wealth of riches” of midcentury design.
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Phillips isn’t fascinated with repeating earlier work, so location, storylines, and style fluctuate significantly in her resume. In contrast to Johnny Money’s biopic Stroll the Line, this setting is fictitious. “We obtained to take loads of liberties as a result of we have been creating the world we needed to—Victory. As a result of the story is multilayered, and issues are revealed, it additionally gave us cinematic license to interrupt the foundations,” she notes.
On paper, Alice and Jack Chambers (Kinds) have a dream life, however their marriage is threatened when Alice begins to ask questions on their group. Right here, Phillips talks about hitting it off with Wilde and collaborating with Pugh and Kinds. Plus, she shares the challenges of designing interval costumes early within the pandemic, the movie’s intricate particulars, and the importance of the male gaze and clothes in Don’t Fear Darling’s off-kilter interval atmosphere.
Constructing Victory with Olivia Wilde
“Don’t Fear Darling exists on the planet of Palm Springs within the ’50s, which is all in regards to the pool and the desert,” Wilde lately informed ELLE.com. Throughout this dialog, she references Phillips’ collaborations with Madonna and her in depth design work on Broadway and in movie. The designer recollects Wilde reaching out to her on the finish of the As soon as Upon a Time manufacturing, and their first assembly at a Los Feliz restaurant was “like having a primary date.” The love for one another’s earlier work was mutual. “I at all times like to see artists crossover into different disciplines, and I at all times suppose the very best administrators are administrators which have both taken appearing lessons or are actors,” Phillips says.
Going from a coming-of-age comedy Booksmart to a feminist thriller is kind of the tonal shift, however when studying the Don’t Fear Darling script, Phillps noticed a hyperlink to Wilde’s activism. “The flicks they select to make says one thing in regards to the filmmaker,” Phillips says of engaged on Wilde’s Booksmart follow-up and with Tom Ford and Madonna on directorial debuts, A Single Man and W.E.
Phillips obtained “one other layer of intrigue and pleasure” when Wilde “despatched me a temper board of her imaginative and prescient.” This pitch deck “had all these refined visuals” that tapped into Phillips’ “photography-based” sensibilities (you may see the costume designer’s work within the September situation of ELLE). “I began out working in style as a result of I like working with photographers and nonetheless pictures,” says Phillips. Wilde’s visible temper board kicked off this artistic love affair that included Slim Aarons and up to date artists like Alex Prager.
When the pair first met in 2019, Wilde was going to star as Alice. “I feel her objective was at all times to have Florence, after which Florence grew to become obtainable,” she explains. Wilde nonetheless pulls double responsibility enjoying Alice’s next-door neighbor Bunny, who wears daring leopard print bikinis and strapless mint inexperienced attire. As that is nonetheless a considerable position, Phillips needed to think about parts similar to sporting a wig, make-up, and heels as she did when designing costumes for Hedwig and the Offended Inch. “John Cameron Mitchell was actually in drag—directing and appearing. Olivia, it is just about the identical factor, proper?” Phillips recollects. “I knew it was going to be necessary that as her costume designer, I is also a help to her. Not solely behind the digital camera however in entrance of the digital camera as a result of it is a huge job.”
Victory’s Classic Model
“She taught me a lot about classic style,” Wilde mentioned about working with the designer on Don’t Fear Darling. Preproduction was slated for March 2020, then pushed to the summer time of that yr as a result of pandemic. Phillips tailored to the distinctive circumstances and uncharted territory because it was one of many first motion pictures to come back again and resume filming. “There weren’t as many sources obtainable to me as regular. Plenty of locations have been closed, whether or not it was museums, libraries, or flea markets—my common journey of looking and gathering,” she recollects. Fortunately, Phillips might nonetheless supply “a considerable quantity of classic sourced costumes from costume homes.” She additionally linked by means of home and worldwide distributors on-line to “create a want checklist of what we’re on the lookout for and get containers despatched.”
Along with classic items from costume homes, Phillips “made most of Florence’s costumes out of classic material from the interval, in addition to Harry’s fits that we tailor-made.” Whereas sourcing the items and material to customized construct was a problem, Phillips needed to take care of the standard and authenticity that has made her in demand. “Like many of the movies I do, I at all times wish to have sourced garments from the interval as a result of it’s laborious to recreate that contact and feeling.”
Collaborating with Florence Pugh
“It was not solely difficult by way of the availability chain, timing, sourcing, looking, and gathering but in addition connecting with the actors themselves and with the opposite crew as a result of everyone seems to be masked,” Phillips remembers. Even with the extra steps (they sanitized garments earlier than and after fittings), Phillips speaks positively of the expertise, regardless of what latest headlines may say. She feels “extremely bonded and near the forged and crew on this movie extra so than ever earlier than.”
One such fruitful collaboration is with Pugh: “She was extremely open, and he or she introduced loads of good concepts in our early conversations within the fittings.” The designer highlights Pugh as “beneficiant along with her time” as “you by no means know the way a lot costume is a part of their course of as a result of each actor is totally different.” The becoming room may help construct a personality as “costumes may help catapult somebody to a sure time and place.” Phillips notes that British actors historically favor “a bodily, tactile method to accessing the character,” whereas American actors are usually extra “distinctive whether or not or not that helps them.”
Floral and graphic print frocks are usually not the one factor in Alice’s closet. She additionally borrows one in all her husband’s white button-downs for an attractive breakfast second that purposefully winks at this recognizable flirty trope. As well as, capelets, ballet apparel, gingham swimwear, a black eyelet costume, and a proper pink robe chosen by her husband are all a part of her sartorial journey. “Color and silhouette are at all times my first method when designing, particularly on this interval,” Phillips says. There may be additionally a nod to how legends within the subject like Edith Head and Elois Jenssen created miniatures of costumes worn by Joan Fontaine and Lucille Ball. “Midcentury movie design is constructed into actually the way in which Victory is designed. You see the little mini mannequin that could be a prop within the film,” Phillips describes.
Harry Kinds and the Victory Rat Pack
“Harry, like all actor, when he walks within the becoming room, any persona or public notion of who he’s, goes out the window,” Phillips says about working with Kinds the actor, fairly than Kinds the musician. “The one factor I’d say about his public persona that I imagined can be thrilling to work with is that he takes probabilities in his personal world with how he attire and expresses himself,” she displays.
After working with A-list artists like Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani, Phillips had an thought of what to anticipate from Kinds. “I felt intuitively that he can be a really open particular person, and certainly he was. He was sport and up for the concepts, very curious. I like to have these greater character conversations with the actors, these philosophical conversations.” One factor we are able to all agree on is Harry “seems superb in garments, he wears garments nice. It was enjoyable to observe this character come to life within the becoming room with him.”
“It’s a good time for menswear,” displays the designer. That’s additionally evident in Chris Pine’s costumes. Because the charismatic Victory group chief Frank, Pine’s wardrobe factors to his figurehead standing, such because the luxurious monogram on his cuffs. “Chris could be very considerate, detailed, and had loads of good concepts about his character,” she says. “He is aware of lots in regards to the interval and is an aficionado for automobiles and costume.”
A coveted accent in Victory is a signet ring. “I discovered lots in regards to the signet ring from engaged on a few Kingsman motion pictures,” Phillips says in regards to the British custom. “It is extra uncommon in America, but we leaned into this type of bro tradition, this Rat Pack early ‘60s, when ‘males have been women and men have been girls’ quote-unquote,” explains the costume designer. Don’t Fear Darling purposefully makes use of the male gaze for each women and men within the movie: “They’re this idealized Rat Pack tradition. There may be an class in the way in which the lads costume within the ‘60s. We’re leaning into that veneer and facade of presentational costume for women and men—and the social expectations of ladies at the moment.”
Clues within the Costumes
Constructing this fictional world allowed Phillips to be “an architect of types” in pulling from genuine sources and collaborating with different division heads. “Katie Byron, the manufacturing designer; Matthew Libatique, the cinematographer; and Olivia and I have been continuously referencing design from the interval that was related to the story we’re telling,” she says.
With out going into specifics (as a result of spoilers!), Phillips teases how costume and her potential to take cinematic license play within the unfolding narrative. Victory’s “veneer of artifice” is acquainted to up to date audiences who’ve seen the midcentury design and promoting, however this isn’t a historic drama biopic that requires note-perfect accuracy. “That license I used to be ready to soak up design additionally provides to a sure story layer because the story turns into revealed,” she says.
Trend is cyclical, and retro silhouettes have a romantic attract. Nonetheless, Wilde’s film and Phillips’ costume design dig deeper into social expectations behind this put-together look: “It’s simply a few generations in the past, however [these were] societal norms, the way in which that girls have been anticipated to decorate to please their husbands.” Phillips additionally displays on how Don’t Fear Darling will resonate inside the fraught panorama within the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned. “My nice hope is, the film will entertain everybody and provoke dialog—I feel these are the very best motion pictures. We’re dwelling in harmful occasions once we discuss management over girls’s our bodies and these gender roles that we’re anticipated to play—it’s a cautionary story.”
Emma Fraser is a contract tradition author with a concentrate on TV, motion pictures, and costume design. You will discover her speaking about all of this stuff on Twitter.