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Dressing For War
A two-time Academy Award®-winning costume designer, Albert Wolsky was charged with dressing the leads and setting a visual tone for the characters through their wardrobe. "Contemporary films are much harder than any period films for many reasons,” he explains. "My job is really about storytelling, with the adjunct being the costumes.

In other days, it was easier to tell who a person was, what class they were and where they were coming from. But today, it's totally eclectic. You can't tell who's rich, who's poor; I can't even t e l l who's we l l dressed anymore.”

Since her unforgettable walk down Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman, Roberts has shown remarkable sophistication in style. Her longtime collaborator on such films as The Pelican Brief, Runaway Bride and Charlie Wilson's War, Wolsky designed the look of a gorgeous and brilliant spy who takes no prisoners.

Wolsky describes how he achieved the classic, look Gilroy and the producers desired for the leads: "Tony wanted the film to be glamorous and sexy, and yet, we couldn't have Julia Roberts walking around in strapless evening dresses. We had to find a way to do that whole look, which is really about not getting caught doing it. In Julia's case, it was all very slick and formfitting. I felt from the beginning she should wear extremely high heels, which she didn't mind. It gave her another stance, and it's sexy.”

Wolsky believes that the first time the audience sees the characters is the most crucial time for clothing to be perfect. As he designs, he asks the questions of "What do you see first? Who are these people?” He notes, "Julia is totally corporate, and she's a very black figure in the beginning. Clive is in this suit, shirt and tie—immaculate and in gray tones. The beginning of the film is full of grays and blacks. Tom Wilkinson is in black, and his whole world is in gray.”

Choosing the right color palette involved many conversations between Gilroy and Wolsky, as well as coordination with production designer Thompson on the color scheme he imagined for the rival companies.

Thompson says, "When you discuss color in the frame and the controlled use of color, Albert and I were coordinated with what the characters were wearing, what the walls looked like and how we could help each other. We discussed eliminating color from particular scenes, or making them lusher. The scenes have a real discipline to them.”

The colors and costumes (such as Owen's impeccably tailored Armani suits) depended not only on location, but the time period of a particular scene—whether it was told in flashback or in present day. Explains Wolsky: "During one of the flashbacks, when Claire and Ray meet in Rome, I wanted color. Then we go forward to this present day world, which has more grays, blacks and whites. Dubai, which is also a flashback scene, has a lot of color: lights, tans and beiges and summer. The story gave me a lot of control.”


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