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THE GOOD GERMAN

Costuming
Costume designer Louise Frogley worked with black-and-white on "Good Night, and Good Luck” and, like Messina, found the palette more liberating than challenging. She could use red shoes if they were handy, knowing they would appear black on film. "We put all sorts of mad combinations together without regard to color,” she says. "For contrast we relied on texture and patterns.”

Raised in post-war London, "playing on bombsites,” Frogley was still surprised by the degree to which Berlin had been destroyed, and crafted the wardrobe accordingly. "Everything was based on logistics and economics. It was a world of desperate poverty, grime and filth, lack of water, lack of food, and lack of privacy or personal safety, and you see that reflected in the clothing. Women would wear turbans or scarves because they couldn't wash their hair. They would wear bulky coats even in the summer to make themselves as unattractive as possible in an atmosphere where rape was commonplace. People often carried their valuables with them in rucksacks. They didn't have much clothing and what they had was old.”

At the same time, "People in the black market had money. You'd see prostitutes wearing the latest fashions, nail polish and high heels, provided that they had someone powerful taking care of them. It was a totally corrupt environment.”

Frogley patterned George Clooney's wardrobe after war correspondents of the time, who favored dark shirts with lighter ties. "Technically, they weren't supposed to wear dark shirts but they did it because they liked it,” she explains. "Jake would have done the same just to buck the system. He'd loosen his tie, leave his jacket unbuttoned and his hat cocked to one side, things no other officer would have done.”

For Cate Blanchett, the key was elegance. "Lena would find a way to be chic within her limits,” says Frogley. "She didn't have much money and would have to buy dresses on the black market, but they wouldn't be the latest styles. Still, she'd be more naturally tasteful than her roommate, Hannelore, who's coarse and generally not as well put together.”

The designer's largest challenge, by volume, was assembling period military uniforms for the four occupying armies. "We had them made all over the world and a lot of it doesn't match but that's okay because they didn't match at the time either,” she reveals. The Soviet uniforms, in particular, were coming out of a transitional stage in the early 1940s, wherein medals and insignia denoting rank were being gradually restored after years of being banned in an effort to convey equality among the troops—a concept that, by the 40s, everyone agreed had fostered more inefficiency than morale.

Moscow-born Ravil Isyanov, who plays General Sikorsky, helped the costume designer identify the various Russian military medals she had assembled, to determine which of them would be appropriate for the general to wear.

Frogley found it humorous that so many of her young extras had no idea how to wear their pants or their hats correctly for the time and says, laughing, "We had tremendous trouble getting them to keep their trousers up, because the style now is to wear them lower. We had to put suspenders on them so they couldn't be adjusted and still they tried, every time we turned around. They also needed hat lessons—back goes up, front goes down, pinch here—otherwise they'd wear them on the back of their heads. They were just naughty.”

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