Dressing the Times: Gucci, Ferragamo and Nomex
Much of Rush takes
place off the track, and
Howard and his costume de signer, Julian Day, wanted
to celebrate the era. To accomplish, the production
utilized two fashion houses: Gucci and Salvatore
Ferragamo. Gucci provided the clothes for Hemsworth
and Wilde and Ferragamo provided the clothing for
Bruhl and Lara.
Explains Day, who gained much attention for his
work on Nowhere Boy: "Both houses were extremely
helpful, and I'm grateful to them. I went to Florence and
met with the creative head of Ferragamo [Massimiliano
Giornetti], and we talked about the characters. I
designed some clothes with their help from their
archival collections. I went to Rome and did the same
with Gucci and met with Frida Giannini. In some ways,
Gucci is more flamboyant, which suits James' character,
whereas Ferragamo is slightly more conservative, in a
beautiful way. That suited Niki."
As the style of the '70s was unique and colorful
on and off the track, historical verisimilitude had to be
achieved by the wardrobe department as well. "If you
take 1976, the year most featured, and look at Niki's race
suits, the advertising is all over the place," shares Day.
"That's because he would be sponsored by such-and-
such at one race, then that patch would come off and
be replaced by another one for another race. To avoid confusing the audience, I had to keep the suits basic
and consistent, and as Niki became more successful,
we put more advertising on him. I did the same with all
the drivers, certainly also for James."
Day -- who used to spend time on the Formula 1
circuit as a kid -- also had the challenge of capturing
'70s couture without falling into cliche. It was
important for the designer to honor F1, as his father
used to reproduce models of the racing cars. In fact,
a John Day model car is featured in Rush. "When you
look at footage or photographs from the racetracks,
you see a lot of primary colors," Day says. "Ron and I
felt these colors would work well for the race aspect of
the film. Off-track, I've gone for more muted, smoky
colors to reflect an idea of seeing life through a haze
of cigarette smoke because it seemed like everyone
smoked in the '70s."
Form followed function when it came to the F1
races and safety. Driver safety (as much as possible)
was everything. The original race suits were very
heavy, with three layers of Nomex and fireproof
underwear serving as the foundation of the uniform.
To achieve that look, Day went to a company called
OMP Racing -- which has been producing race wear
for almost three decades -- and created all of the film's
race suits, gloves and balaclavas.
That, naturally, had to be adjusted for
filming, Day shares: "Because the
suits back then were so heavy, and
the suits nowadays are the weight of
a shirt, we came up with a look that
was authentic but not as heavy as the
Competition wasn't only fierce
among the racers, but between the
houses financing them. Explains
Day: "At the time, Ferrari and
McLaren were the top teams, so
McLaren would see what the Ferrari
team was looking like...then they
went out and got new uniforms and would have new
adidas trainers for each race."
Day worked on differentiating the fashions at
different Grand Prix races and circuits. He went from
two extremes: Fuji, where it rained, had a crowd
that needed to be dressed in muted blacks, browns,
grays, blues and wet-weather gear; in contrast, the
fashion at Brazil, where samba dancers and grid girls
wore bikini tops and shorts and high heels, showed
fashion that was much more colorful. He provides:
"The crowd is just as important as the principals;
they're the backdrop to everything. The idea was
that you go to a Grand Prix and it would be all day.
You'd take your picnic hamper, bag, a wet-weather
coat, and over the process of the day if it got warmer,
you'd start taking it off. Of course, people would tie
it around their waist. That idea of making people
look as real as possible was important to both me
While it would have been easy to devolve into
stereotypical '70s clothing, Day is quick to remind the
reader that the era had something for all. He muses:
"Everyone has their own opinion of how '70s fashion
looked. There were a lot of big collars and paisley
patterns, but when you actually look at pictures from that time there was also a very normal side to the
fashion. I wanted to create a good brushstroke across
everything, so there's depth to it and not everyone
looks the same. When you've got 5,000 extras, you
want everyone to look like an individual...not a huge
block of '70s-looking people."
For Rhind-Tutt, this '70s sartorial flashback
was an added thrill. "It was like being at those long
family parties when I was a little kid with the sister's
boyfriend in flares," Rhind-Tutt recalls. "At that time,
I was looking up to all the fashions. In Rush, I get to
wear all those clothes that the grown-ups were wearing
then. It was quite cool."
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