Saturday, February 1, 2014

American Hustle: Vintage Overdose

I watched American Hustle a little while ago.  When I went to the theater, I didn't really know the premise and didn't know what to expect.  Here's the American Hustle official trailer for those not familiar:

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper share the screen alongside Amy Adams and Christian Bale in American Hustle.  The film tells the story of a pair of con artists (Bale and Adams) forced to work for a cocky FBI agent (Cooper) bent on bringing down powerbrokers and politicians. 
The film opens with the late 1970s Columbia Pictures logo (cute bit of vintage trivia).  An opening title card states, "Some of this actually happened" followed by "April 28, 1978 Plaza Hotel, New York".  Then I REALLY got excited.

I am kind of obsessed with the fashion era of the late 70s to 80s.  Think more "Studio 54" and less cheesy bell-bottoms.  I gain inspiration to no end from my personal collection of vintage Vogue magazines from these decades!
I have to say, not only was the film extremely entertaining, American Hustle knocked the costumes out of the park!  Every time there was a costume change, I kept thinking...timeless, sophisticated and just the right amount of sexy...Everything I love about this era!

The film's costume designer, Los Angeles-based Australian Michael Wilkinson had the task of bringing the best of this era to the big screen.  In interpreting the characters, he states that "The characters are wholly unique and wildly imaginative.  In the script, there were a lot of opportunities to explore different social backgrounds, from the vibrant, racially diverse world of blue-collar Jersey to ultra-fashionable Upper East Side Manhattan to the sprawling suburbs of Long Island.  1978 - the year the film takes place -  is a fascinating year, because it marks the beginning of a transition away from a truly flamboyant, exaggerated lines of the 1970s and into a more streamlined, early 80s vibe."

American Hustle Featurette: The Costumes [Sony Pictures]

Wilkinson approached this movie as a research project.  He, along with his costume design team, conducted extensive research in TV, films, high fashion magazines and advertisement of the times to bring the right pop culture inspirations to American Hustle.

For authenticity purposes, Wilkinson had access to the fashion archives of Diane von Furstenberg, Halson and Gucci (to name a few) as well as costume houses across the country.  He dressed the characters in as many authentic 70s pieces as possible but also worked in a few contemporary pieces.



Some specific scenes actually called for Wilkinson to design a few costumes himself which were also inspired by the 70s boldness, like a sequined halter-neck evening dress Adams wears to a casino party.  Lawrence's eveningwear includes a white metallic, rhinestone dress created by Wilkinson in "a size too small and very clingy and revealing."


Costumes were beautifully accessorized with authentic pieces as well.  Adams sports several Gucci pieces including a signature python Bamboo Lady Lock handbag, Gucci gold horse bit necklace, earrings and bracelet, and high-heeled platform loafers.  She also rocked the iconic oversized vintage Christian Dior sunglasses and Charles Jourdan disco shoes.

The 1970s/80s was a time of risk and confidence and Wilkinson relates this era in fashion to American Hustle perfectly, "...I think the attitude of the characters in the film is quite inspirational. They’re living large and taking risks and inventing their lives with their costumes."

American Hustle is truly a special treat for vintage lovers.  Sit back, enjoy the film and channel your inner Studio 54!

Photos By Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Productions LLC/Columbia Pictures

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  1. I haven't seen this yet but the costumes are what draws me in. After reading this, I can hardly wait. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for your comment, Elba! Enjoy the movie. You will not be disappointed =)