“House Of Gucci”, Ridley Scott’s lyrical drama about the assassination of fashion heir Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver) by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), weaves a rich tapestry of real events and manufactured.
But there are no shortcuts when it comes to designing costumes for a movie about Italy’s most famous fashion family.
Long-time Scott collaborator Janty yates was given the staggering responsibility of recreating three decades of fashion, as well as the personal style evolutions of the main characters. “You must have had a huge arc because it was 1975 to 1995 and my God, what a time,” she explained in an interview with TheWrap. “It’s amazing how different each year was from the next.”
For Yates and his team, it wasn’t just about calling the luxury brand and borrowing from the safe. They were selected from a number of sources, such as archives, vintage stores, and Lady Gaga’s closet (which Yates calls “LG”). “She had a house just for Versaces,” Yates joked.
Not to mention the small army of tailors, cutters, fitters and textile artists who designed more than 100 looks, or roughly 70 percent of the film’s total costumes, including three catwalks and a replica of Reggiani’s wedding dress.
Yates, who won an Oscar for his work on “Gladiator” (2000), did it all without recycling a single look. “If you rehearse, you don’t feel like time is running out,” she explained.
The seasoned costume designer is already working on her next project, the Napoleon epic “Kitbag” with Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Scott. She found time in her busy schedule to talk to TheWrap about her collaboration with Lady Gaga, her favorite looks (“I quite like them all, they’re like kids to me”) and the story behind. this scarf scene.
How did you get involved in the project?
I got the script and did a lot of research because I was in Rome, I got all my Roman family together. They were gagging to do it. I went to the Gucci museum [in Florence], did a lot of research there because they have costumes that go back to the early days. They had loads of pictures of their workshops and bag making, shoe making, store staff, famous people going to stores. Then I left and did “The Last Duel”. So I always had it in my back pocket.
How has COVID affected the costumes? Has it changed or hindered your process?
During the lockdown, I was contacted by MGM, and they basically said, ‘Would you mind doing research and development? And I went, ‘Oh, I would love to.’ I could do it from my front room. ‘”Then we turned around after the lockdown to shoot the rest of“ The Last Duel. ” I went more or less straight to prep after that and didn’t look back. We do now [a film about] Napoleon, [“Kitbag”].
Were you able to lend pieces from the Gucci archives?
[Lady Gaga] wears a double G tunic and pants with a mink on top when [Patrizia] go to 42nd Street and find all the [counterfeit Gucci products]. In the other, she attends her daughter’s school sports day and wears a double G silk blouse with a tie-neck collar and brown leather skirt.
The only [Gucci items] that we bought endlessly seemed to be ties, belts and accessories. They had a lot of handbags in the archive which was great because we could practically choose what [Gaga] wore [on] every occasion. I would say my cutter [Dominic Young] and his team made probably 65, 70 percent [of the costumes]. Then there was 20 percent vintage, because there are some wonderful costume houses in Rome that had huge archive rooms from the 60s, 70s and 80s Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, you name it. A couple [costumes] comes from LG’s personal archives, which are huge. She had a house just for Versaces.
Patrizia’s wardrobe changes as she moves from being an accountant for her father to working her way through the Gucci family. Can you tell us about the evolution of her look during the film?
You had to have a huge arc because it was from 1975 to 1995 and my God, what a time. It’s amazing how different each year was from the next. The dress and the jacket [Patrizia Reggiani] wore at Aldo’s birthday party at Lake Como, it was a huge nod to Gina Lollobrigida, but it also made her look pretty innocent. So we start with her in little cashmere twin sets and stuff like that, trying to seduce Maurizio. She becomes very modest and very contemptuous in her clothes. And then we just gradually tried to increase it a bit.
LG would still like to do the earrings, bags, and bracelets, which I’ve never done with an actor before. Obviously there were a lot of scenes – she had 54 different days [of shooting] – and she didn’t repeat anything once, not even an earring.
There was even a bow for Adam [Driver]the clothes of. Obviously, Maurizio was dressed in Savile Row. My tailor made 40 outfits for him. Towards the end, I was trying to get her to wear velvet suits, that kind of rich look, a little more laid back.
Where did you find the inspiration for Patrizia’s engagement ring? Did you want it to look a lot like the real ring?
Yeah apparently [Patrizia] here again. Not his alliance, because it was just a band. The engagement ring [came from] my stock, pretty funny, and it was so close to Patrizia’s real engagement ring. I had two, that’s what you always need with jewelry in a movie. She is always [saying] “I am also Gucci. “
How did you want to reflect the personality of Gucci men through their suits and other outfits?
If you go online you will see that Paolo Gucci was the most appallingly dressed man of all time. A photo I have with a huge velvet bow tie. So I wanted to make it pretty tasteless, but also tailor-made. And we were so lucky. We have the Atollini brothers, who are the tailors of the leaders and presidents of the countries. They go to Scotland, they pick their cashmere and they have it woven in their tweed, all their costumes are sewn by hand. They made the costumes for “La Grande Beauté”, which to me was one of the best custom movies of all time.
They said: “We do [Paolo] the dandy is the dandy. So we had the loudest window checks, and the big three-piece orange suit that [he wears when] he confronts [Patrizia] and Maurizio outside the church. It was a shame we didn’t have more screen time with him, because we had made a dozen outfits: sports jackets, pants, chunky striped shirts.
Aldo [Gucci] was a very handsome man, very elegant and very tall. You had to try to give this impression with Al Pacino, with beautiful fabrics. Ridley drew this gorgeous photo of himself with a Panama hat, tiny little sunglasses, a cane – not a “dandy dandy” as they say in Italy, but just a dandy.
After being snubbed by his uncle Rodolfo, Paolo pees on a scarf that looks a lot like the Flora scarf, custom designed by the real Rodolfo Gucci. Was the scarf used in the film a replica?
This floral print [scarf] was a real [Flora scarf]. But it wasn’t real pee. There were all kinds of different versions of this script. [In one version] it’s on Rodolfo’s (Jeremy Irons) neck – and [Paolo] pulls it out and throws it into the fire. Then suddenly we weren’t going to have a fire. And then he’s going to pee on it. But yes it was a real one [Gucci scarf] – we managed to find two or three designed by Rodolfo. If you look at Princess Grace [of Monaco], or if you look at Jackie O, you’ll often see that they’ll have one of these scarves tied around their necks.
How did the costumes play into the actors’ methods? Did you collaborate with specific actors to create the look of their characters?
I think every actor – and they’ll probably deny it – but I think a lot of times they get their character right when they do a wardrobe shoot. I did four two hours [Zoom sessions] with LG before arriving in Italy. It was from there that she really created her character and she continued to develop her character as she went on fittings in Rome.
with Adam [Driver], I had three months of “The Last Duel” to discuss [“House of Gucci” costumes] with him. He claims he’s not interested in clothes, but he likes to look good. He had about 46 appearances in the movie that I didn’t want to repeat. If you rehearse, you won’t feel like the clock is ticking.
With Al [Pacino], he was very concerned about his general appearance. He was always trying things left, right and center.
Jared [and I] zoomed in. From day one, what could be more worrying [was] build his weight, because he’s thin and has all that long hair. So we were mostly working on clothes that we bought from a rental company and trying to make a big t-shirt, basically, but to make it comfortable.
“House of Gucci” presents three fashion shows: Versace ’84, Tom Ford’s Gucci ’95 and a fictional show by Paolo Gucci. What was your approach to recreate them?
I gave to my associate designer [Stefano De Nardis] the job of doing all the shows. And I said just do six, seven looks because Ridley is never going to shoot all of that. Well, he did it all. He did everything from scratch: the turquoise blue velvet suits, the yellow velvet suits, he made the Versace [show] from start to finish… and he created the Paulo Gucci show. In addition, he found more or less [lookalikes], especially in the Tom Ford [show], real models so iconic.
Do you have any favorite costumes from the movie?
I have always loved the bridal look because I thought the framed veil [Lady Gaga’s] face so beautifully. They made a facsimile of the real dress which [Patrizia Reggiani] was photographed at her wedding. My cutter, Dominic Young, and I created this dress where all the lace was applied by hand. It was just such a work of art. I loved the turquoise sequin [dress] – it’s not in the movie, it’s in the trailers. I love the red satin dress she seduces Maurizio in on another night out. And then there’s a cute beaded neckline, but you only see it at her waist. I like them all rather, they are like children to me.
You have already spoken about your childhood aspirations to become a fashion designer. Did the costume design for this particular film create a sense of a loop?
I think I was about 11 years old [and] I was just making my own clothes. However, I have always wanted to work in fashion and in fact no, the circle has not come full circle because I made my wish come true by becoming a costume designer, not a fashion designer. I had never had such a wonderful experience as making my first short half-hour film. It was so exciting and dynamic. I was like, “I never want to do anything else.
“House of Gucci” now only plays in theaters.