Entertainment How The 'Tenet' Costume Designer Was Inspired By Connery's Bond

11:02  22 september  2020
11:02  22 september  2020 Source:   esquire.co.uk

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  Sean Connery at 90: Celebrating the first knight of action cinema Until 1962’s Dr. No, action cinema was the commonplace realm of jingoistic war movies, ailing backlot westerns, biblical excess, and tired thrillers. Yet, when an English author, a New York movie producer and a Canadian showman walked into a movie deal to bring James Bond 007 to the big screen, their cinematic vision of an adventurer spy had the potential to overhaul a genre. When they finally cast Sean Connery in the autumn of 1961, they went one better. They transformed cinema itself.As the Mods went to Brighton, The Beatles sailed to Hamburg and bright young British things began dominating 1960s culture, movie audiences sought a new wave of British cinema and representations.

How The ' Tenet ' Costume Designer Made Clothes Going Forwards Go Backwards. How did the Tenet script compare to Inception and Dunkirk? They feel like they’d be a little easier to grasp. It's more the character of Sean Connery ' s Bond , not necessarily the clothes he was wearing, because

Mixing costume design with fashion. Years later, when Hemming was asked to take charge of the costume design for the film series for The reason she chose to collaborate with a fashion designer was because she wanted to work with a company capable of tailoring Bond ' s suits in a Savile Row

Tenet is a film about many things, from entropy to time travel, Armageddon to environmentalism. But it's also a film about Robert Pattinson wearing a succession of truly astonishing suits. For that, we thank Jeffrey Kurland.

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JAMES BOND star Sir Sean Connery was discovered to have paid his accountant with his 007 movie costumes , claims EON’s archivist. Meg Simmonds has been the director of the official Bond film archive since 1995 and explained how barely any of the costumes from Connery ’ s period remain

Sean Connery uses it in his Bond films from From Russia With Love to You Only Live Twice. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan always use it Perhaps the collar of his shirt is hiding the bulkier part of the knot. Costume designer Louise Frogley decided to bring a “sharper” look for Bond .

The storied costume designer had previously worked with Nolan on Inception – where he proved his tailoring chops – and Dunkirk, but Tenet posed a very specific set of challenges. The first one being just figuring out what the hell was actually going on.

"I read the script at least six times before I even sat down to talk with Chris," Kurland tells me, over the phone, from LA. "That's how you do any Chris Nolan film. The script is there, and it's totally wonderful. And then it's usually up from there. It's always a wild ride."

Others were more Tenet-specific. With characters spending so much time in masks, their clothes had to convey who they were – and which timeline they were in – at a glance. He also had to figure out how to make sure that the fabrics didn't give the game away when actors were moving backwards, or forwards when they were supposed to be in reverse. Here, he shares his secrets, his tailoring tricks and why that Brooks Brothers suit isn't what you think.

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Costume designer Jeffrey Kurland and his team cut and stitched the clothing in the United States, manufacturing them for the main cast and thousands more.[8] Jessica Kiang of The New York Times described it as Nolan' s "time-bending" take on James Bond , praising the film' s cinematography, score

I have criticised Skyfall and Spectre costume designer Jany Temime a considerable amount for the overly tight and short fit of the suits in which she dressed Daniel Craig, as well as for a few other smaller details. But her brilliant costume choices far outnumber the mistakes. There is still much to admire in

How did the Tenet script compare to Inception and Dunkirk? They feel like they’d be a little easier to grasp.

Dunkirk is easier to grasp but still has its twist – there's a time element. So you have to figure out, what are we looking at? What is happening now? What is the flashback? What's going forward? You're always trying to figure out that – where are we? And how can I visually place – as far as costumes are concerned – who the characters are and what they're doing? With every Chris Nolan film, it just starts with the script, and it's always so imaginative and new. You always know it’s going to be a wild ride.

So you’ve read the script six times. Then what happens with Chris?

The chat is about the script itself and the story, then we talk about the characters. Who they are mentally, physically, how he physically wants to present them. That's a long chat about everybody. Then I go off and I start to draw. I sketch this thing and I show them to Chris and he says to me, "Oh, you're on the right track", or "No, no, no, you're veering off, that's not where I want to go." That's the kind of dialogue we have for a long time until we settle in on the direction for each character. Then I start choosing fabrics and I bring them over to Chris and it's always a shared decision. He's in on all the elements.

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Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25 August 1930) is a Scottish retired actor and producer who has won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards (one being a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award)

Sean Connery may be the most iconic James Bond in the history of the 50 year-old franchise, but the Scottish actor was crushed by the pressure that came with the Bond fame, causing a massive rift between him and the film’ s producers, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

a man standing on a stage: Elizabeth Debicki © Melinda Sue Gordon Elizabeth Debicki

What were the wrong tracks he felt you were veering off on?

The one that comes to mind is Kat, the Elizabeth Debicki character. You read the script and get the idea of who Sator is, a wealthy oligarch. You know where he comes from and what he does with his money. So what is his wife like? In my mind, I started to picture her in kind of fashionable clothing – wealthy, to show off. But when Chris and I talked he said, "No, I don't want to go that way, because she really is not in a happy marriage and I don't want her to seem like she's enjoying the fruits of this marriage." So I totally scrapped that idea and I just went back to what her roots would be: English rose, a certain conservativeness but a stylish look to her. Tailoring kind of reminiscent of the late Forties, early Fifties, but still bringing it into the modern era. There's a certain vulnerability there. She's not opening up to anybody, she's very closed, very within herself. So it shaped the character in a totally different direction.

One of the first I noticed is that she’s in heels a lot. There are a few wide shots where you can see her full height and she's really tall, even without those towering heels. What was your thinking there?

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4. Thunderball (1965) James Bond : Sean Connery Director: Terence Young Wardrobe designer : Anthony Mendleson Wardrobe master: John Brady Wardrobe mistress: Eileen Sullivan Tailoring: Anthony Sinclair Shirts and ties: Turnbull & Asser.

Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming, who had Craig emerge from the sea in Casino Royale in skintight swimming trunks, says his form-fitting look in the Eon Production Skyfall suits the times. “Now I really feel Bond has been brought into the modern era,” Hemming said while in Toronto

I started before the whole thing was cast, and [at one point] Chris said, "Elizabeth Debicki's playing this role and, you know, she's six foot three in her stocking feet." My suggestion was to take advantage of that. Let's own that, because she's never gonna be shorter than anybody on screen. So let's bump it up and give her what she comes with. She's so stately and she makes a statement physically, and visually, on her own. And as a designer, she's a dream to work with.

At Esquire, we were excited about the tailoring as soon as the first stills dropped. Can you talk me through your approach and thinking there?

My feeling was that each character, especially the three male characters – Neil, the Protagonist, and Sator, the oligarch – they all basically are going to be wearing suits in a good deal of the movie. And I needed to separate their characters, so that it wasn't just a bunch of suits walking around. So I used different tailors for each of those characters, because I knew the way they worked and I knew what I could get from them character-wise. For John David [Washington, who plays the Protagonist], a much more European cut, a more fitted look. Rob [Pattinson, who plays Neil] a little looser, still quite elegant, but much more free and moveable.

And for Ken Branagh [Sator], absolutely no flourish whatsoever. That character, because he had so much money, he did not have to show it. That boat was his money, it wasn't in the way he dressed. So his suit had details in it, like in the lapel, the little notch in the lapel is totally different than everybody else's, not like a Western suit. I wanted to pull in from a look that might be Eastern European, from possibly another time. His suits have a top stitching on it, whereas John David's have a very fine picking. They're made differently specifically for the characters and they're presented differently to the characters.

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John David, I wanted you to see his arc. You go from Mumbai, then you go to England, with the Michael Caine scene, where he says: "Brooks Brothers, not gonna cut it here." Then the next scene, where you’ve got the sharpest suit in the world. It was a silver, sharkskin, three-piece suit that I made for him and fitted to give him that V-shape, a nice waist and the hips are very linear, giving him as much height as possible. It was the same thing with Elizabeth. I cut those suits so that they would enforce her linear quality, her height, the skirts are longer so I could see the length of her leg. I just wanted to enhance all of that.

The Michael Caine scene is brilliant – the Brooks Brothers line got a big laugh in my screening. Are you working with brands on the tailoring or is it all you and your tailors?

All the suits are made, there is no bought suit. Even the Brooks Brothers suit, I have to say, was a bespoke suit.

John David Washington wearing a suit and tie walking on a city street: John David Washington in his three-piece sharkskin suit. Definitely not Brooks Brothers © Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros. John David Washington in his three-piece sharkskin suit. Definitely not Brooks Brothers


I didn't want to all of a sudden throw a ringer in there. I want continuity. Even though that suit is supposed to be lesser quality and less impressive, I knew I could create that, and still have John David not look like Trump. But I chose Michael a navy- and midnight-blue suit with those yellows – the tie and a pocket handkerchief that just pop – so there was an elegance and a thoughtfulness to the way he dressed. John David is in a warm, taupe-y brown plaid that I chose, and the tie is a repp tie, nothing special. Because in the next scene, boom, he's going in to meet Kat, and he's in that silver suit. It elevates immediately, and it comes right off Michael's line.

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The other standout suit, for me at least, is the double-breasted pinstripe number that Robert Pattinson wears while scouting out the Freeport. Can you talk me through that one. It’s astonishing.

That's an extraordinary piece of fabric. When I found that fabric I just fell in love with it. As we're going along, I talked to Chris, I said: "When Neil goes there, it's his first disguise, outside of the world of John David. He's going into the real world. What would his disguise be?" A little fashion-forward in a way, and he's a little bit forward-thinking, because it pops when it's lit in a certain way. If you saw it in the IMAX, you literally can see the threads, you can see the colours. There was an elegance and over-the-topness to it that fit Neil's personality.

The tactility does seem to jump off the screen.

It's a winner, an original. And that's another thing you have to understand: everything about a Chris Nolan film originally starts in Chris's head and it takes him years to write these things, and they're so original to themselves. So why would I go to the marketplace and depend on the marketplace to come up with things for this script, that has taken eight years to write? It's so incredibly, unto itself, an original. So for me, you create the look that goes with what Chris has created as a script and a story. And I think it works well. It worked on Inception. And it also worked, strangely enough – I know it's a uniform – but in Dunkirk.

You can really see that in the suit Neil wears when you first see him – looser, more relaxed, almost a foppish energy that really suits his character. And I can’t really remember seeing a suit like that, especially not on screen, for a long time.

Again, it has a slightly older feel to it. Because my original thought when I read the script was Neil struck me an ex-pat, he's gone off on his own and he's just living life the way he wants to. There's a certain laissez-faire to him, an I-don't-care quality. His suit is rumpled, it's not the cleanest in the world, but he still looks good in it because his personality shines through. So the suit was made and then aged so that it was saggy and drippy, and slightly toned and stained so it didn't look new. But it still stands out in the way that I wanted it to, because it fits his personality.

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When people think of spies and suits, they think of Bond. Was that in your mind, or is something like that totally irrelevant?

Well, it can't be totally irrelevant. If you're making a movie like this then Bond is the kingpin. It's like the big kahuna. But you want to make it different. I was more creating the Sean Connery Bond than anything else. Not necessarily suit styles but the way the suit is worn by the character and the way he looks in the suit, and I was trying to go beyond that. It's more the character of Sean Connery's Bond, not necessarily the clothes he was wearing, because obviously those were made in the Sixties. It's a totally different period. But it still, as a look, lasts and works. You want to achieve the essence of that, without stealing it, but still get the satisfaction that it gave. When you went to your first James Bond movie and saw Sean Connery, you thought: "Wow, this guy's amazing, I want to grow up to be like that." You wanted that quality.

a group of people standing in a room: Kurland designed all the film © Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros. Kurland designed all the film

Connery’s clothes always felt like they could stand up to the stuff he put them through, which isn’t always true of more recent Bonds. And I got the same sense from the clothes in Tenet.

You are building for certain problems that are presented by a movie like this. They're running, they're jumping, they're falling on the floor, they're fighting. But when they get up, you want to have that magic of: "Wow, he still looks fabulous." With Chris is usually in-camera, there's not a cut, so my stuff has to behave that way. It's in the building, to make sure all the room is there. And there are multiple suits made for certain things, and we make suits for the stunt people. But most of this was done by the actors themselves. It was John David who was doing all the fighting, and Robert was doing all the fighting with a stuntman, but they were always the ones doing the stunts. So the clothes had to do what my actors were doing.

How did you approach the uniforms? Was there any crossover with how you approached them for Dunkirk?

To me was a totally different challenge because I was creating the garments. You don't know who those armies are, we never even name them. We did tonnes and tonnes of research – there's so many bulletin boards of military and attack units, Navy SEALs, what do they wear – to come up with what I felt was sleek enough but still believable as a fighting uniform. But I still wanted it to have a bit of a sleeker look than just, you know, baggy camo. So when you see John David in the beginning of the Opera House, in his black uniform that was a jumping-off point for all the uniforms that continue from there. So there's a linear quality again – I keep using that word but it was very much part of my vocabulary during designing this film – there's a linear quality to that that is a straight up and down, slimmer quality. And I knew I would have all the masks, that there would be faces hidden. And, in truth, there are differentiations in masks and shapes as it goes through. They're not all the same by any means. They change with each different army, the teams are different. They're subtle, but they do change.

Did the fact that some things were shot in reverse, or shot forward and reversed, pose any specific challenges?

Yes, to a certain extent. For example, when you button your jacket, the front flap will move with the wind and with movement. I couldn't let it fold back, so I actually lined the front of these jackets with a cardboard-y lining, so that it remained slightly stiff and it didn't fold back. It just stayed where it was, kind of stationary. Chris had noticed that in tests and he said, "We need to do something about that." And we came up with that, which actually worked very well. It’s simple, that extra lining inside the suit, just a piece of the suit. But it did the trick. It achieved what he wanted.

a close up of a ceiling light: Shooting the hallway fight in Inception © Warner Bros. Shooting the hallway fight in Inception

His films must pose a lot of those kinds of very unique challenges.

Yeah, absolutely. I always have interesting problems that have to be solved. In Inception, it was Joseph Gordon Levitt's suit when he's fighting in the hallway, he turns and he's climbing. You didn't want the gravity of reality to give away the fact that this was all happening. So I had to wire his shoelaces they stayed where they were supposed to stay. The cuffs or the pants were slightly stiffened so they didn't fall onto his ankle, they stayed around. There's a lot of little things just to convince the audience that this was actually happening.

It’s so granular.

It's such a privilege, to be honest with you, because Chris is one of the few auteurs out there. He always comes up with his original story, directs it, produces it. He's involved in all of it, in the best way. Because he is a creator. He creates all these worlds. It's so much fun to be able to help to visualise it.

Robert Pattinson et al. standing on a sidewalk: Himesh Patel, Robert Pattinson and John David Washington chat about ram-raiding an airport © Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros. Himesh Patel, Robert Pattinson and John David Washington chat about ram-raiding an airport

Do you have a favourite look from the film, that you would put in your own wardrobe?

Oh, God, it's hard. It's like choosing one of your children. I was very fond – just as a look, as a fashion look – I'm very fond of the burgundy suit that John David wears in Italy, at the dinner with Sator.

That whole sequence had a really different feel to the rest of the film – much brighter colours, somehow looser and more vibrant.

I wanted him to cut like a knife through butter. John David looks so good in clothes, he wears them well, and I thought this [suit] will work really well. Because it's coming through all that Italian architecture, yellowish stone, and that burgundy suit comes up, and I was just very happy with that. But I love Neil's suit with a shawl collar. That was a daring move that Chris accepted. He was into it, because it was very Neil. You're never gonna see this on anybody else. But Neil could wear it. You know, Rob Pattinson could certainly sport it.

Jeffrey Kurland holding a sign posing for the camera: Jeffrey Kurland at the 2020 Costume Designers Guild Awards © Frederick M Brown - Getty Images Jeffrey Kurland at the 2020 Costume Designers Guild Awards

I wanted to steal that look for myself, with the scarf and the popped collar. It’s such a strong image that really stands out, I guess because like the suit itself, it felt so distinctive and authentic to the character.

It's a wonderful pairing of actor, character and suit. The actor fit the character beautifully, the suit [fit] the character, and that just all came together nicely. With all of them, to be honest. Little pieces like the jacket I have on Himesh Patel. The leather jacket. It was such a find. It was actually mine, from long ago. And it's a unique looking piece and I put it on Himesh and it came together with the plaid shirt, you know. And that little bit of originality, his own character's personal style, just got in there. Sometimes you just get lucky and find something so unique. I have a lot of stuff I've saved over many, many years that you never give away because you know there's gonna be a place where something's gonna work great.

Does anything ever appear in multiple films? Or is it, once it’s used, that’s it done?

I don't like to repeat anything. Every film is so original unto itself, it deserves its own look. Over my career, I've tried to – and hopefully successfully – reinvent the suit for each character. Tom Cruise's character in Mission Impossible: Collateral is not the same as Leo [DiCaprio in Inception and it's not the same as JD in Tenet. Everybody's wearing suits, but I hope they don't look the same because they're all character driven. And that's the thing that I enjoy, and that I like to do.

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