Prior to designing the wardrobe for Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi feature “Tenet,” costumer designer Jeffrey Kurland read the script several times to envision each character’s individual style, he told Variety Artisans presented by Hamilton Watches.
“Every little detail from a pocket square to a pair of shoes to a cuff … what does that tell us? What is that saying about that person?” Kurland said. “All those details reflect on what a character is in a film.”
Kurland said the costume design was a collaborative effort with Nolan, that allowed each character to physically embody their personality traits. In order to achieve a distinctive look for each actor, Kurland opted for different tailors to design each character’s outfit.
“It’s always a pleasure to work for Chris,” Kurland said. “The material is always there. He’s thought the story out, he knows exactly what he wants, he knows what’s in his head, but he wants you to interpret it in your way, too, because he knows what you bring to the table is important also.”
Neil (Robert Pattinson), whose suit is loosely fitted, and The Protagonist (John David Washington), whose suit is perfectly tailored, look strikingly different when they are standing next to each other, which Kurland said was purposeful to mimic the characters’ individuality. Kat’s (Elizabeth Debicki) clothing is also coded with her character: Her conservative dress — sans flashy accessories — displays the root of her being, Kurland said.
But looks were not the only point of concern, as the action film dictated each outfit be adaptable to physicality. As a result, Washington’s suit was fitted with cardboard to accommodate fight sequences and ensure the suit did not move in an unflattering way.
“It’s hard work and it’s always thought provoking — there’s nothing simplistic about a Chris Nolan movie,” said Kurland, whose portfolio includes “Dunkirk,” “Inception” and “Erin Brockovich.” “But hard work is just so gratifying.”
This episode of Variety Artisans is presented by Hamilton Watches