Two longtime friends of director Luca Guadagnino added their personal touch to “Call Me by Your Name,” his sensual summer romance from Sony Pictures Classics that’s set in northern Italy in 1983.
An interior decorator by trade, first-time set decorator Violante Visconti (Luchino Visconti’s grandniece) dressed the 17th-century villa where young Elio (Timothée Chalamet) lives with his scholarly parents, the Perlmans (Michael Stuhlbarg and Amira Casar) and falls for the visiting American intern Oliver (Armie Hammer).
Fashion designer and repeat Guadagnino collaborator Giulia Piersanti created the film’s understated costumes.
Visconti conceptually married the Perlmans’ worldliness with the villa’s nostalgic past to attain the eclectic, lived-in feel of a deeply loved home. “[Much] of the furniture belonged to my father,” she says. “That made it cozy and personal. The Perl-mans are open-minded. They love books, music, history. … Their house is easygoing and non-structured, with flowers from the garden, furniture from their travels. It was there for generations. The Perlmans inherited it and added their lives to it. I wanted to give it the sense of time passing by.”
Most of the dishes and ’50s glassware belonged to Visconti’s parents and to Guadagnino. Maps, mirrors and paintings with Asian influences primarily came from Piva, an antiques store in Milan.
Visconti is especially fond of the pinkish couch in the library, a central piece in a number of scenes, calling it “a shabby-chic sofa in a place full of life and memories.” She recalls her collaboration with Samuel Deshors, the film’s production designer, who conceptualized many exteriors. “We obviously couldn’t have a normal swimming pool in this sort of garden,” she says. “[Samuel] had the clever idea of turning an animal watering trough into a pool.”
For the costumes, Piersanti avoided going overboard. “Very period-y clothes would have done a disservice to the film,” she says. “The key was giving a sense of insouciant adolescent sensuality, summer heat and sexual awakening. I wanted to hint at a nostalgic, suspended period.”
As a result, Piersanti stuck with a few key pieces for each character. She pulled from her own memories of Italian summers, represented in Eric Rohmer’s “Pauline at the Beach,” “A Summer’s Tale” and “A Tale of Springtime.” For the Perlmans, she drew inspiration from her parents’ photo albums.
“[Much] of the furniture belonged to my father. That made it … personal.”
Mrs. Perlman’s casually chic wardrobe, consisting of mustard and army green shirts and silk bourette shorts, was custom-made based on vintage Armani pieces. Aiming to differentiate Oliver’s looks from everyone else’s, Piersanti chose big Ralph Lauren shirts, short shorts and high tops for him. “I was looking at some of Bruce Weber’s earliest photographs, of the ’80s sexy, healthy American man,” she says.
For Elio, who wears plenty of Lacoste throughout, Piersanti wanted to emphasize his evolved, confident style in the final scene with a bold shirt that came from a vintage shop in Milan. But she is mostly keen on Elio’s burgundy polo shirt and Fido Dido T-shirt. “They are from my husband’s closet,” she reveals. “I love that they will stay forever on film.”