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AMERICAN HUSTLE

Dressing The Part
With the film set in the 1970s, costume designer Michael Wilkinson had a chance to express the decade's distinctive design through the film's fashion. His designs further expressed the film's theme: characters remaking themselves, transforming themselves into the people they aspire to be. "Michael constructs each character's personality in the fabrics they like, the colors they like, how they feel when you're around them," says Russell. "The cream bathing suits that he put Irving and Sydney in when they meet - this tells you a lot about them - they're stylish, but very much of their period."

Wilkinson explains, "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 New 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."

Clothing plays an important role in defining Bale's and Adams' characters. In fact, each character has over 40 costumes. "There had to be something about Irv's clothes that was very appealing - you want to trust him, you want to believe him. There's an aspect to his character that wants to fly a little below the radar. It's Sydney who starts helping him find a way to present himself to the world. We played with a lot of beautiful fabrics, some colors that were quite expressive, great combinations of vests and shirts, stripes and plaids.'"

In addition to remaking Irving, Sydney is also remaking herself. "She's a small-town girl who arrives in New York. She has a natural sense of style - and when she meets Irv, she gets the confidence to explore it. She picks out Diane von Furstenberg dresses, wears Halston, and starts really enjoying this new silhouette, this new freedom - it's super-sophisticated and confident." For Sydney and for all of the characters, Wilkinson worked with real clothes from the period to be as authentic as possible. He also ended up building a lot of clothes from scratch, designing costumes for specific moments in the film.

Adams' character is contrasted against Jennifer Lawrence's character, Rosalyn. Wilkinson says that the designs for Lawrence's costumes are meant to underscore the character as another hustler. "Rosalyn is a master of emotional manipulation - she really knows how to work a person over and she uses her sexuality to push her agenda. At the same time, we had to balance that against the fact that she lives this totally boring existence in the suburbs," Wilkinson explains. "She has wild mood swings, and this is reflected in her clothes, from her frumpy house dresses and muumuus to her 'dressed-to-kill' evening wear."

Cooper's character, the FBI Agent who falls under the spell of the hustlers he lures in, is another character remade through the film. "He starts off as someone who doesn't care so much about how he looks," Wilkinson says. "He's doing things like curling his hair, but he doesn't have a very finessed approach to what he's doing. When he comes into contact with Irv and Sydney, it has a huge effect on him. He re-invents himself: he goes from ill-fitting polyester cotton blends to silk shirts and stylish leather jackets."

"For Jeremy Renner's character, David wanted to put him in pale suits," continues Wilkinson. He had a signature way of dressing with a slightly old-school feel to it, a Rat Pack kind of boldness to it. Maybe his clothes aren't the most up-to-date - they hark back to another era, especially when juxtaposed with the finer, sophisticated clothes we see from Irv and Sydney - but he's a very well-dressed man expressing a New Jersey bravado, and that was fun to explore."

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