Director Graham Moore was adamant about wanting to nail down the authenticity of what a tailoring shop looked like and what a cutter does in the process of making clothes for his new film “The Outfit.” He recruited fashion designer Zac Posen to take audiences inside the world of tailoring. Says Posen, “He was interested in close-ups of the texture of clothing material, the dust when you cut, or how threads rapidly fly up.”
Mark Rylance stars as Leonard, a master ex-Savile Row tailor, who winds up in post-WW II Chicago where he stitches together suits, while the local mob uses his store as a front.
To build Leonard’s costumes, the filmmakers found the perfect collaborator in Savile Row tailor Huntsman & Son who custom-made the shirts and suits in the film.
During that process, the pandemic threw a wrench in the works leaving Posen to hire a co-costume designer. “We wanted someone to share in the process, somebody that had experience in London because I wasn’t there to implement things,” he said. Sophie O’Neill proved to be an ideal collaborator, working to age the costumes to show wear and tear.
With O’Neill on board, Posen had another idea, “What if Mark could job-shadow at Hunstman? He’s such a thorough actor and researcher.” Rylance was soon in the tailoring room with the suitmakers, working alongside head cutter Campbell Carey while Posen watched over Zoom. “He [Mark], took part in making his costume. He was totally game for that as he learned how to hold the scissors and watch the perfection of Hunstman in these tailoring appointments,” says Posen.
While white shirts were prominent, Posen discussed color and how to make it pop through this dark setting of the tailor’s store and the traditional dark suits. “I had early conversations about Minnelli Yellow (inspired by Vincente Minnelli’s “An American in Paris”) and using colors that would pop on film,” explains Posen. He found ways to incorporate blues and greens through Zoey Deutch’s character, Mable. Adds Posen, “What I saw and heard from Graham’s original vision to what ends up on screen is a real testament to the producers, the production and the team that he put together here.”
With three costume designer credits to his name, the fashion designer says he is excited to work on more films and explore more work onscreen. “I’m really excited to work on costumes in the future and different genres of costume. Maybe using more of my fantasy sensibility,” Posen suggests.
And as the Oscars approach, who is Posen rooting for? “My very good friend Andrew Garfield. He gave an impeccable performance in ‘Tick, Tick …Boom!’ I watched his preparation for that and it was incredible,” raves Posen.
It is also the first time in 20 years that Posen, who has dressed Andra Day, Gwyneth Paltrow and Viola Davis, will not be flying out to L.A., despite getting daily requests. “There’s always next year,” he promises.